The Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend is just over a week away, and here is a chance to find out more about the first five performers competing for Best Debut in the Saturday night pageant. You can read Part Two here…
Lada Redstar (Former Yugoslavia)
If you looked me up in the dictionary, it would say… The showgirl with the biggest and most eccentric feather headpieces in Burlesque!
I became a burlesque performer because… It’s a way to refuse reality and society as it is today. It’s creating my own world where I’ll be happy with the role that I have decided in it, with no pressures from the outside, where the choices will be made by myself, and myself only.
I just never wanted to be part of the system; it sounds adolescent to say it this way, but that’s exactly what it is. I just DO NOT want to be part of this society where a life passes so quickly and meaninglessly. Where so many meaningless values are above the Aesthetic, the most sacred of them all.
I did NOT want my last though on my death bed to be: ‘I should have done more. How many things I’ve missed!’ Well, I’ll probably say it anyway, a life is not enough for all Beauty, but I’ll at least feel I lived MY life, not the life that somebody else has decided for me. I’ve found MY way, and I feel lucky and strong, because many people never do in their life. And I’ve found it through living in Art, being Art.
I know I’m an outsider, but there are different ways of being a ‘rebel’. Today, I think it’s more rebellious to be elegant and to accept myself as a woman rather than being a punk, in a way! I am a sort of rebel of the Aesthetics and of Beauty.
When I’m on stage, I have… the amazing feeling that I’m doing EXACTLY what I want with my life. I feel satisfied and FREE.
When I’m on stage, I want the audience to feel… amazed and stunned and surprised and amused!
I applied to compete at The Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend because… I just wanted to live the best experience my career and burlesque can offer me. Nothing is better and bigger than BHoF; we all know it. And I want to meet the Legends and hear and see it all!
I chose the act I’m competing with because… It’s strong and it brings something new and fresh and unique, and at the same time, it respects the codes of classic burlesque and it’s an homage to its heyday.
If I am awarded ‘Best Debut’… It’s bad luck to talk about it! Sheesh!
To me, life is about… enjoying every single bite of it! And eat it all!
My guilty pleasure is… there’s no guilt in pleasures. Never. There’s guilt in not pursuing pleasures. Mine are love, men, art, antiques, taxidermy, erotica, books, and feathers.
In ten years time, I hope to be… still alive, at least! Life is so unpredictable!
Bella de Jac (Australia)
If you looked me up in the dictionary, it would say… Sparkly, excitable, occasionally naive, frequently naked, loves everyone. Also see: Burlesque Tunnel Vision (obsessive condition where person/s cannot function in any other capacity when planning a new act or preparing for an upcoming show).
I became a burlesque performer because… I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else but on stage and backstage; it’s where I’m at home. I also like taking my clothes off… a lot.
When I’m on stage, I feel… Mostly I feel like a queen, sometimes like a scared little girl, but always at home.
When I’m on stage, I want the audience to feel… Their genitals… Kidding! I suppose I just want the audience to have a good time. They can take away nothing but aesthetic pleasure, or a bit of ‘Fuck yeah! Burlesque Rocks!’ Or they can feel deeply moved or inspired, but I just want them to have a good time.
I applied to compete at The Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend because… It’s the Holy Grail! Just the opportunity to perform in any capacity is such an honour.
I chose the act I’m competing with because… It’s my Aussie rock act and I have so much fun performing it. Plus, I’ve been told it’s fun to watch.
If I am awarded ‘Best Debut’… I will probably pass out from shock.
To me, life is about… Love, art, beauty, humanity, dancing, singing, aiming higher, going everywhere, loving, love, love, love.
My guilty pleasure is… None. I don’t take guilt with pleasure. That sounds wanky, but I don’t know many burlesque performers that feel guilty about doing the things they love! I think we take pride in enjoying pleasure shamelessly to be honest.
In ten years time, I hope to be… Still shaking my titties for cash! Honestly, I’m not sure; performing arts isn’t an exact science and I gave up strict forward planning years ago. Maybe I’ll be performing or producing with a few little carnie babies running around my feet, learning how to tassel twirl from mama’s burlesque and boylesque friends, and playing peek-a-boo amongst the feathers. Maybe I’ll be touring, maybe producing my own show, maybe mentoring, who knows! Whatever it is, I hope to stay creative and give back to the burly community. Ten years isn’t such a long time to be honest…
Coppelia Circus (Japan)
If you looked me up in the dictionary, it would say… Sometimes she is sensual, and sometimes innocent; she is a protean Miss Entertainer!
I became a burlesque performer because… I like to self-produce my shows, including costume, music, and dance.
When I’m on stage, I feel… a sense of a mission to entertain everyone!
When I’m on stage, I want the audience to feel… I want the audience to enjoy my vivid performance.
I applied to compete at The Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend because… I’d like to have self-confidence and an established career as a burlesque dancer.
I chose the act I’m competing with because… I’ve reset myself! This show is quite plain. Just the way I am.
If I am awarded ‘Best Debut’… I’d like to say ‘Thank you’ to all burlesque fans, especially Japanese burlesque fans and the members of MURASAKI BABYDOLL.
To me, life is about… keeping expressing.
My guilty pleasure is… Drink!
In ten years time, I hope to be… a costume and headdress designer.
Elektra Cute (Minneapolis, USA)
If you looked me up in the dictionary, it would say…
verb (used with object), e·
1. to kill by electricity.
I became a burlesque performer because… I never turn down an opportunity to dress up and strip down.
When I’m on stage, I feel… full of possibility. Every performance is a new adventure with a new audience and new opportunities to entertain and explore.
When I’m on stage, I want the audience to feel… like part of the fantasy.
I applied to compete at The Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend because… I came last year for the first time and was dazzled beyond belief by my peers, idols and legends. I am honoured that I was chosen to compete; the news came as a true shock!
I chose the act I’m competing with because… It’s the first act I created that has stayed with me and grown with me. Now in its third incarnation, I am proud to have produced something that continues to resonate with me and my audience.
If I am awarded ‘Best Debut’… my head will explode. And I will probably trip on my dress.
To me, life is about… finding your fun.
My guilty pleasure is… I don’t harbour guilt about any of my pleasures, and they are varied and plentiful!
In ten years time, I hope to be… gluing rhinestones, frantically searching for cheap flights to Vegas, and trying to figure out the best way to get ten pairs of stilettos, four gowns, and six swimsuits into my suitcase!
Jessabelle Thunder (Los Angeles, USA)
If you looked me up in the dictionary, it would say… Uncontrollable booty shaking.
I became a burlesque performer because… I always loved watching burlesque shows because of the variety of acts and people I saw perform, and how each one of them had so much confidence and owned the stage. I wanted a piece of that fantastic action.
When I’m on stage, I feel… Sexy, sassy, flirty, confident and alive.
When I’m on stage, I want the audience to feel… Highly entertained and happy.
I applied to compete at The Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend because… I wanted the opportunity to perform for hundreds of burlesque performers and enthusiasts from all over the world.
I chose the act I’m competing with because… it is one of a handful of acts that I have that I feel super confident performing. This was the first act that I ever performed, and I feel like each time I perform it I gain more and more confidence and have so much fun with it. I also think the song is a perfect interpretation of me as a performer.
If I am awarded ‘Best Debut’… I’ll probably cry, then be in disbelief for an hour or two, and then be full of smiles and more tears and gratitude.
To me, life is about… Continually learning about yourself and bettering yourself, whenever possible.
My guilty pleasure is… There are too many! But here are a few of the top of my head: shoes, dresses, chocolate, anything related to the UK (TV, movies, people, shops, etc.), and shaking my ass.
In ten years time, I hope to be… Bringing my burlesque talents to stages all over the world, as well as living in London. Oh! And maybe finally making use of my MA in Marriage and Family Therapy, as my family wants me to do.
Quoted in major international newspapers and held in high esteem and affection by the international burlesque community, 21st Century Burlesque Magazine has documented the contemporary burlesque scene since 2007. Founded and edited by Holli-Mae Johnson.