Cadbury Parfait is an award-winning performer serving classic burlesque with a generous side order of tongue-in-cheek British humour. After several years performing and teaching at Shimmy Shake School of Burlesque in Berlin, she’s now back in the UK and continues to ‘take stages by storm, one giant boob at a time‘. A frequent collaborator with the Cocoa Butter Club and Shenanigans Cabaret, Cadbury’s appearances include Latitude Festival, Edinburgh Fringe, and Soho House Berlin.
1. How would you define yourself in three words?
Funny, sassy and glamourous.
2. Who would play you in a movie about your life?
Myself, let’s book the gig. My first experience on stage was acting, and my degree is in Theatre, Film and TV, so any opportunity to perform is welcomed. Plus, who better to play Cadbury than Cadbury herself? Cringing at referring to myself in the third person!
3. What is your biggest strength?
I’d say my sense of humour and a desire to ensure everyone around me is having a good time.
4. What is your biggest weakness?
I’m far too idealistic; I romanticise scenarios in my head, and then I’m disappointed when life doesn’t happen that way. I blame being raised on classic Hollywood musicals and Jane Austen novels.
5. When are you most happy and inspired?
Happy with friends enjoying excellent food, great drinks and cackling like hyenas. Inspired in any creative space – it doesn’t matter the medium in which the art is presented, just being able to absorb and immerse myself into it gets my creative juices going.
6. What is your favourite on-screen burlesque moment from film or TV?
Cher in Burlesque, I’m joking, imagine! My first memory would be watching Gypsy – the Bette Midler version. One that I adore, however, is Julie Andrews in Darling Lili. Julie has been a lifetime love, and I enjoy watching her go from sweet songstress to bumps and grinds.
7. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
I’d say it would be from Moira Love, who ran the local theatre in my hometown and I’ve worked with since I was three years old. She taught me the importance of theatre etiquette, being on time and carrying yourself in a way that’s respectful to others. But for life advice, it’s from my late Grandma, Nana G: “Better to be single than settle.”
8. If you could switch lives with one person for a day, who would it be?
My head says Rishi Sunak so I could tear the Tories down from the inside out. My heart says Elizabeth Taylor in the 50s – I’d clear out her wardrobe! She was a wonderful woman, so glamorous and important to multiple humanitarian movements.
9. What’s the biggest myth or misconception about burlesque?
That it is totally different to stripping and a ‘higher art’. It absolutely isn’t, and to say so does an injustice to the sex workers and strippers who paved the way for us to be doing what we do today.
10. If you could only perform to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I never tire of doing my lipstick act to Etta James’ I Just Wanna Make Love to You; it’s got it all – the sass, the sax, the grinds, and it’s well-known so you immediately have the audience onside.
Cadbury Parfait performing.
11. What surprisingly useful things do you have in your show case?
Rennie. It’s not a secret that I do enjoy a drink backstage, but I’ve reached a joyous age where heartburn now plagues my existence, so I always have them on hand. I’ve also learnt to have a snack with me in case tech overruns and you end up skipping dinner.
12. Do you have a backstage ritual?
I’m very time management-focused; I will never be late. I like working out how long I need for everything, which makes me flexible if another performer has an emergency and the order needs switching. Before performing I enjoy a drink, a stretch and a wee (do this before you put a corset and multiple harnesses on). Afterwards I crash hard and fast; the adrenaline deserts me instantly so I can be quite quick, and I hope other performers know it’s not them, just my mood on the floor!
13. What advice would you give to new performers starting out today?
Do your research, go to shows, watch online, and please don’t bankrupt yourself building acts when you first start out. Pay is pretty dismal and you’ll probably change your style as you grow and evolve as a performer. Just do one thing well: you absolutely don’t need to do gloves and a corset and stockings and fans in your very first act. Finally, pick a name that represents you and what you have to offer, and for the love of god, check to see there isn’t another performer with that name.
14. What is your proudest achievement?
I always love hearing from prospective performers that they enjoy my work and that it has encouraged them to take classes or perform. Featuring on the Burlesque TOP 50 list blew my mind and it’s a real honour to be amongst so many performers I look up to. I also loved producing in Berlin and offering paid slots to new performers and space for people to experiment.
15. What is your biggest regret?
I think it’s dangerous to look back and regret things in life, life-threatening choices aside. Instead I think of it as a chain of events, and if just one of those changed, I wouldn’t be here doing what I’m doing today. I have my health, wonderful people in my life, and great opportunities to perform, travel, eat, and experience the world, so I don’t think I regret anything, really.
16. What is the biggest challenge facing today’s burlesque scene?
It’s still diverse lineups, sadly; producers are still using tokenism to ‘spice up’ their casts, and it’s exhausting. The economy and cost of living crisis also means going to shows is one of the first things people stop doing to budget, and so shows become a luxury or completely inaccessible. Producers often do what they can to negate this, but ultimately you can see the shift in the commitment of audience members to buy tickets.
17. If you could go back and tell yourself one thing when you started out in burlesque, what would it be?
Don’t underestimate yourself, and ask for what you’re worth. I grew up being told talking about money is gauche, but it’s so important to have those conversations.
18. What is a cause or issue that’s very important to you?
Where do I start? The world feels like such a mess, and my millennial generation has had this impending sense of doom for as long as we can remember. Humanity is the biggest cause I’m concerned about; we appear to have lost any sense of the word and allow the media and society to pit us against anyone slightly different. The world would be a kinder place if humanity was placed above profits and borders.
19. What are you currently reading, watching, and listening to?
Everything, I’m a bit of a screen fiend! I’ve just finished Fleabag for the 100th time and eagerly anticipate Feud: Capote vs The Swans. I watch everything from utter trash, feel your brain melt out your ear TV to old black and white Hollywood classics. Bookwise, I finished Queenie by Candice Carty Williams, and I highly recommend it; it felt a little too close to home in a good way. I’m also reading Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors – it’s hot and angry. My music taste screams middle-aged, camp musical theatre producer; I have no shame in blasting Cole Porter musicals, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand and Julie Andrews.
20. If you could share a dressing room with one performer for the rest of your career, who would it be?
It’d have to be my pal, Felicity Felicis. We get along so well and we’re very much on the same page when it comes to having a good time. She’s an incredible performer with a filthy sense of humour and a laugh to match.
21. What would you like your life and career to look like in 10 years time?
I’d love to be performing, teaching and coaching full time and really helping new performers understand the importance of theatricality and energy on stage. I have an ultimate act in mind, but it requires a pretty penny and some rather ample storage, so I’d like to see my gravy boat dreams come true.