Saturday, 2 June 2012

Beginning Burlesque

A little over four years ago I was working in a Jazz Bar in Chester, when they announced that they would be holding a new Burlesque night there, once every two months. I can't remember now whether I was aware of Burlesque or not... probably not much!
The show was called "Dixie's Dollhouse" run by Dixie Licious from Newcastle.

The poster for the very first Burlesque show I ever saw!

I'll be honest, however, and say that I don't remember very much of the evening at all! There had been a family birthday party earlier in the daytime and I might have had rather a lot to drink!
I do remember arriving just as the night started and seeing the gorgeous Frankii Wilde performing her Cat act... it all goes slightly blurry after that though. My abiding memory of the evening is seeing a beautiful girl (Zara Ann) covered in sparkles and pouring champagne over herself and me announcing "That'sh what I'm gonna do!"

I had just graduated from Liverpool Theatre School and College with a Distinction in Professional Musical Theatre. I had a fabulous agent who was getting me regular auditions and I sang in a soul band once or twice a month. However, any theatre monkey will know that's not enough and I was going slightly crazy not performing. Burlesque seemed like a perfect, short-term solution: in 2008 shows were springing up all over the place, I was able to be creative and costume and choreograph for myself, and because the shows were one-nighters, if I got an acting job I wouldn't be letting anyone down in the way that I would if I were to take part in, say, a local amateur dramatics production.

I joined the Ministry of Burlesque forums and began asking all of the typical 'newbie' questions about music, costumes and the like, finally stumbling across a job post asking for a newcomer to perform at a night in Southport - the show was called "Ladies of L'amour" and it took place at a venue called The Latin Lounge. It was headlined by Millie Dollar and Anna Fur Laxis - two incredible performers who are still a huge source of inspiration to me. (I remember Millie performing an act with a purple costume, I think it was a cat-themed routine, and I saw Anna's 'Time for Tease' and 'Shipwrecked' acts)

My act was called 'The Waitress' - it was a cheesecake style routine to the song "9 to 5" and was a generic striptease act: a waitress gets bored and drinks the drinks she's supposed to be serving to the customers: gets drunk and strips! I wore a custom-made French Maid style costume with stockings and underskirt from La Senza, pasties from Ann Summers, shoes from eBay and pants from New Look which had my name written in glitter across the bum!

I remember talking far too much backstage and being aware that I was getting annoying (this is still something I do when I'm nervous!) and asking for lemonade to add to the champagne glasses (I actually received a double-vodka and lemonade: I didn't realise this until I was performing the act and had to down four glasses of the stuff while performing! Eek!) I also remember flicking my stocking too hard when I took it off and it landed on someone's lap - he picked it up, put it round his neck and wore it for the rest of the evening!
I also remember the train was delayed on the way home so I missed my connection at Liverpool Lime Street and had to get a taxi home to Chester!

Pictures from my very first ever show!

It's funny looking back at how I started in Burlesque - never expecting it to last this long and take over my life! I've changed so much as a person and a performer: I no longer perform Cheesecake routines, whereas my first two acts were both in this style (my second act was called 'Late for a Date' and was to "Be-Bop-A-Lula"!) and I've even changed my stage name. I appreciate much more the value of costuming and presentation and the importance of a well-executed, unique idea. I love Burlesque, Cabaret and my Cabaret Family, and this is where the whole wonderful roller-coaster began!

I hope you've enjoyed this little trip down memory lane! I usually blog about more recent shows, like this one, and this one too...


  1. I love reading about how people get involved in the craft. I would love to perform one day, but never knew anything about getting started.

    Are there different levels to how revealing one's act becomes? Or is it always down to the pasties and panties? The allure of burlesque is so mysterious, but I guess that is because I just don't know much about it!


    1. I think the best advice is to find what works for you. Burlesque literally means "in a joking style" and striptease is only a tiny element of the genre as a whole. I've seen many incredible acts that incorporate singing, dance, mime, circus, etc, and have little or no striptease at all!

  2. I have just installed iStripper, and now I enjoy having the sexiest virtual strippers on my taskbar.