Burlesque peers and fans collectively swooned last week when the video of Michelle L’amour and Russell Bruner’s new duet, debuted at The Big Sexy Show on February 14th in Chicago, hit the internet. And what a fascinating double act they are: asstastic burlesque superstar Michelle L’amour, known for spellbinding grace, hilarious viral videos and unrelenting raunch in equal measure, and Russell Bruner, a disgracefully talented showman stripteaser with an armful of BHoF awards and a queue of top burlesque talent eager to collaborate with him. Together they have produced a delightful, transporting routine, radiating charm, class and good old fashioned showbiz.
Russell Bruner posted the video to social media last week, with the following statement:
“Weeks before the show, Michelle and I had been talking about a collaborative number and had a few different ideas in consideration, but we ended up moving forward with this act idea when Michelle found this beautiful vintage gown in New Orleans. It was an amazing find and she looked absolutely lovely in it. From there it was easy to conclude to move toward a flowy classic partner dance with duet strip.
Michelle gave the dress lots of love, alterations and restorations to get the gown ready before we met. I made a collapsible top [hat] for the act, and found some matching blue clothing items to match Michelle’s gown.
We spent some time going through lots of music options and Franky [Vivid] put the three tunes we narrowed down together and made more edits as needed while we put it together.
It was a joy working with Michelle to put the choreography and sequences together and it was great bringing in ideas and collaborating in a way that brought out our strengths and personalities.”
Michelle L’amour expanded on his comments for 21st Century Burlesque Magazine:
“The duet came about when Russell suggested that we do a duet. I thought about it for a bit and then came to him with an idea. It was a VERY different idea than what came as the final result. The original plan was to do something that had a lot more comedy and we emailed back and forth about that for a while. Then, I went to New Orleans and went in to a store that I should NEVER go in to. I’ve bought too many fancy things from this place, but I’m totally enabled by Franky [Vivid, Michelle’s husband]. Anyway, I went in there with my Studio L’amour teachers (teacher trip!) and was about to leave when I realized Lady Ginger wasn’t with us. I went to the back of the store and there she was in the middle of all these vintage costumes. I saw the green dress. I tried it on and, damn it, it fit! I bought the dress for no real specific purpose. I just thought I would do something with it one day. It needed a lot of love, alterations and rhinestones. A few days after I bought the dress, I went to a drag show in NOLA and they were playing Fred and Ginger on the TV. Then I thought, what if I used the dress for this duet with Russell and we went in a completely different direction? I pitched it to him and he was on board.” (Continues after image…)
“I suggested he do our Valentine’s Day show in Chicago and maybe just come in that week and we’d knock it out. We premiered the act on February 14th and he arrived in Chicago on February 9th. We didn’t even have our final version of the music until the 10th. We worked every day in the studio and came up with something I’m really proud of. I really hope to travel and perform this act in as many places as possible.
Now, I know people love the pants removal. I love it too. It was actually the first thing we choreographed. He talked about how he usually has people from the audience hold his suspenders and he rolls right out of his pants. I said, “Well, why don’t I just do this shoulder stand and you can hook your suspenders on my feet and roll between my legs?” That got some eyebrow raises from Bruner, but it worked! We definitely had kinks to work out and I definitely landed on his head a couple of times. It’s the price you have to pay for magic!” (Continues after image…)
“Working with Russell was really great. I thought we worked really well together. I was a little unsure at first because our styles are so different, but it really came together. He’s also VERY good at rhinestoning. As I mentioned, my dress needed a lot of stones replaced. I was stressing out about show production and he said he could help. I couldn’t believe it! He worked really hard on that dress. I woke up one morning and he was already hard at work gluing stones on for me. How nice!
We hope you enjoy this little bit of old school magic. We are proud to present to you, ‘Soft Lights and Sweet Music’…”
More Michelle L’amour and Russell Bruner on 21st Century Burlesque Magazine:
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.