BHoF 2012 – The Road to Reigning Queen: Scarlett James [9/11]
21st Century Burlesque Magazine has documented the contemporary burlesque scene…
As we count down to the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend, let’s find out more about the eleven talented temptresses competing for Reigning Queen! I have asked each of them about their lives, personalities, preparations and plans, so that those who don’t already know them well can learn a little about them and their work, and those of us who know them better can enjoy their thoughtful and entertaining responses.
Next up, Scarlett James from Montreal…
If I looked you up in a twinkling, rhinestone covered burlesque dictionary, what would the entry for ‘Scarlett James’ say?
Ambassador of Glamour in Montreal, Scarlett is a business woman as much as she is an artist and has been pouring her heart, soul, body and mind into burlesque since 2008. She has created what she calls a “burlesque economy” in Montreal by building a brand that is now recognised and is able to provide work for burlesque artists in Quebec. She is now working on international plans, that will be revealed when the time is right!
Paint us a little picture of your everyday life and work in Montreal…
I like to have breakfast, my favourite meal of the day, then I enjoy going to the gym; it keeps my stress level down, I am a big believer in a healthy mind and healthy body. I will work on my computer and turn on the TV on the news channel and keep it there all day in the background, so I can work and be kept informed of what is going on in the world. I will have lunch with business acquaintances and/or friends, brainstorm, develop and share, then go back to my office and work on the organisation of my events (private and corporate) and the next trip. In the evening I will work on costumes and designs, ideas for the stage decor, glue rhinestones or go to dinner with friends. When I finally get into bed, I will take a moment to write in my diary, learn a couple of words in Russian or Chinese on my iPhone, just because I think it is entertaining and I love the sound of it. Then I go to sleep, or try to because my brains just won’t stop! I’ve taken a day off probably once every two weeks in the past eight months, but as one says: ‘no pain, no gain!’ I love to work, I love what I do I love to learn.
What would you say is your greatest strength?
I think my sensitivity/intuition is my greatest strength, it warns me of trouble, it inspires me, it also guides me and has never done me wrong!
What has been the highlight or defining moment of your career to date, and also in your life overall?
Difficult to say, there is more than one and none is more important than the other. Well, the day I saw burlesque for the first time changed my life. I truly had an epiphany. My whole life made sense and in one second only; all my questions got answered, desire and dreams were possible and a goal obtainable. It was truly a magic moment for me. Everything fell into place like in a Tetris game! Then every day I see my company growing and gaining strength, and every time I say thank you to my audience after a show is a highlight. This is what keeps me going. By nature I am a builder; I want to do things that are strong and will last.
Can you tell me a bit about your chosen act? Why have you chosen it, is it an old trusted act, or a new routine? Have you made any special changes or ‘upgrades’ to it for BHoF?
I have chosen my Himalayan act (also called ‘The Chandelier’). I feel like women are goddesses, so this is a way to express it. It is a fairly new act, I have done it only twice. It is not overly complicated but the message is clear. The only change I made to it is to make it shorter (4mins) and removed the other actors in the number. I had to comply with the requirements of the pageant, the only way to be fair. The original number lasts nine minutes and has four monks in it. very epic!
“I am myself every time I step on stage, I have no intention of changing. I want to enjoy and savour every second of it as if they were the last seconds of my life.”
You have competed before. What has previous experience taught you – do you plan to do anything differently this year, or adopt a different Approach or attitude?
Performing for one’s peers is rather stressful, but I am myself every time I step on stage; I have no intention of changing. I want to enjoy and savour every second of it, as if they were the last
seconds of my life. There is so much work behind the scenes that when I am on stage, any stage, it is the candy or reward.
Is competing something you enjoy, or that pushes or encourages you to excel?
I don’t compete, I feel the contestants are so different that at the end of the day it is in the eye of the judges that it all happens and it is a question of taste. So it is not in my power to compare myself to anyone. I am looking forward to performing and to sharing my body of work, to giving
everything I have got into those four minutes, the way I always do, and I am certain that some people will love it. It is the love I put into my work that always pushes me to get better.
How would you spend your year as Queen – do you have any specific plans or goals if you win?
If granted this honour I will continue to do what I already do – wear burlesque with pride, be an ambassador on an international level and keep working on demystifying the art of burlesque.
I think winning will help me continue this mission that I took on a few years ago; I would like to continue to give a great example of what a burlesque artist is, on and off the stage, inspire others to commit to the art form and spread the word. I want to continue and stimulate the
‘burlesque economy’, digging in history even more to educate and create new projects, but all of this I will do, either way.
What are your dreams and hopes for burlesque in the future, and yourself as a part of it?
I have lots of ideas, goals and plans. I also have a lot of ambition, so everything I set my mind to do, I do. There is a great future for burlesque, I think it should be a part of our everyday entertainment, on the same level as circus is. The world is yet to be conquered, by me and/or any great burlesque artist but I sure want to be a part of it! I am not in a position where I can share my plans as yet, as I want them to see the light of day. Like any business I need a fair amount of discretion…
The Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend
21st Century Burlesque Magazine has documented the contemporary burlesque scene since 2007. Founded and edited by Holli-Mae Johnson.