Michelle L’amour is someone I find endlessly fascinating. She is warm and charming to speak to, with a delicious laugh and composed demeanour. But when she takes to the stage a sexual power and captivating energy exudes from her, whether she’s floating across the stage with her fans or whipping the audience into a frenzy with a high-energy striptease. She expertly provides what I refer to as ‘exquisite escapism’.
I still remember the first time I saw Michelle perform in person. It was her dreamlike homage to Sally Rand; thick soft white fans and short blonde curls. The entire place fell silent, and I felt like a little girl again – wide eyed and open mouthed, witnessing a beautiful burlesque fairytale. (You can watch this routine, and many more of Michelle’s acts, by clicking here.)
We finally sat down together to record an interview on the Sunday of the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend in Las Vegas this year. We had a new Reigning Queen of Burlesque, and Michelle and Franky were newly married…
H-M: So – Mrs L’amour! Have you decided – is it going to be Mrs Vivid or Mr L’amour?!
M: *laughs* You know, I think we’re just going to pick a new name –
H-M: A new name?
M: Yeah, I think we’re going to go with Everleigh. I mean, I’ll still be Michelle L’amour, but I think it will officially be that.
H-M: So what did you think of last night, and the results?
M: I thought last night was… huge. A lot of top talent, many people applying to get in, and those that got in to the Miss Exotic World/Reigning Queen category – a really tough decision!
I thought the results… Some were questionable *laughs* But I thought Kalani did a great job.
H-M: I think most of us agree – I was talking to Catherine and Jo and we agreed that the standard was just sickeningly high! There were so many potential runners up to Kalani…
M: Yeah, and it’s good that it was that close, that it was that good, all around.
H-M: And you were happy with the main result, that Kalani won?
M: I predicted it, I saw it coming, but it was really exciting … I think she will be a really good ambassador for the Burlesque Hall of Fame for sure –
H-M: Yes I think she’ll do them proud. And it’s long overdue –
M: Yeah –
H-M: So that’s fantastic.
And of course your Chicago Starlets competed!
M: Yeah they were so cute!
H-M: Was that a routine you choreographed?
M: Yes I choreographed. It was originally choreographed for four, and when I brought it up – ‘Do you guys want to apply?’ We built on the four and made it fourteen – a gaggle of girls, it was really fun!
H-M: And obviously you’re stupidly proud of them…
M: I am, I’m a huge burlesque mama. When they came to me, many had never danced – they have come so far, it’s so cool…
H-M: Are a lot of these girls very new to it, or is it the seasoned group that have competed here?
M: These girls have been doing it for three years so they’re pretty fresh, but not all of them have been doing it three years; some of them it’s their first year –
H-M: And it’s not their first BHoF weekend, is it?
M: For some of them yes. A lot of them came for the first time last year, and they came back and then some! So it’s been really exciting.
H-M: You must be really proud of what they have achieved…
M: Yeah I just… When I started coming here I was the only one here from Chicago and I just really wanted to bring that recognition to Chicago
H-M: I think it really is recognised now as a burlesque city – a burlesque dot on the map…
M: Yes, I really wanted Chicago to have a face at these national festivals and competitions, so I am really proud.
H-M: You won [Miss Exotic World] yourself in 2005 – you must have memories of what that experience was like.
H-M: Did you have a shell-shocked ‘Kalani’ moment?
M: Yes I was! And I think everyone else was too, because no one really knew who I was –
H-M: I was going to say – as far as I remember, was it two or three years before that when you did your first public striptease?
M: Yes, yes. My first striptease was in February 2003, so it’s been a little over six years now.
H-M: So it was a serious achievement to win that early on – most people seem to build up to it…
M: Yeah, I went for the first time in ’04, and then I won in ’05, but there was definitely a lot of, ‘Who the hell was that?’ *laughs* ‘Who? Chicago what?’
H-M: It’s so funny because the Snow White routine that you did has now become such a classic – many young and new performers I have spoken to, if you say ‘Michelle L’amour’ they’ll say, oh the woman with the amazing fans or the Snow White girl – the routine with the apples!
You took something and put such a great spin on it –
M: That’s exciting, thank you.
H-M: I’ve been talking to a lot of the really established stars and legends this weekend – and there has been an emphasis on the Burlesque Hall of Fame, on its continuity, that it gets support. What would you personally like to see happen and develop; do you have any ideas of what you would like to see happen?
M: I would love to have an actual place for the museum; I’ve seen something that they’re working on and I think that’s the ultimate goal. But I just think it needs to be out in the public a little bit more –
H-M: Public awareness –
M: Yeah… I think if we really want to keep this going and have it survive we need to open it up a little bit and not just make it such an insider thing, you know? I would just really love to make things a little more public…
H-M: I think this is a year where it has had a lot more exposure – I think it’s exciting that the mainstream are catching onto it – it can only be a good thing I guess…
M: Yeah, you know if it’s treated correctly I don’t think it will spin out of control if it hits the mainstream. I think if the art is treated correctly then the mainstream will treat it as it should be.
H-M: And would you agree this is where the highest calibre of burlesque is to be found, that it encourages excellence in people?
M: Absolutely, this is the Mecca of burlesque, this is the pilgrimage you make every year. And the talent has grown hugely, the level of performance is topped every year – it’s really exciting.
H-M: Just when you think it can’t get any better someone does something amazing…
Michelle: The Early Years…
H-M: I think out of almost anyone I can think of, you have got to be the most comfortable person with their body and nudity that I know –
M: Wow, thank you – it’s huge to hear that!
H-M: So, were you always that uninhibited? Were you brought up in some kind of ‘naked house’?!
M: Oh goodness no!
H-M: Or did you just… Like you said, you were so shy, so you obviously learnt to be comfortable somehow…
M: Yes I did. I grew up in a born-again Christian home, very… I don’t know if strict is the right word, but a guilt-ridden house, a really unhappy house. And I don’t really know how I got here.
I think it was the first time that I did anything like this, just got that little taste of it, I just wanted more, and more, and more. And the costumes got smaller and smaller… The thing is, I don’t really enjoy the costume process; it’s like a nuisance to me, I don’t really like it! *laughs* Which is why I don’t wear a lot of costumes! And that’s how I became ‘The Most Naked Woman’. I envision the costumes, I like coming up with ideas, but as far as myself executing them … I really do not enjoy hunching over and rhinestoning my G-strings – if I had someone to do it for me that would be great! It would be awesome, I would be set!
H-M: Once the costume comes off, you do seem to come into your element! On Friday – it was when you were right down to the bare essentials that the real Michelle magic seemed to happen. Am I right in my perception? As if you think, ‘right, I’m at that point now, now I can work it’?
M: Yes, I prefer it. The worst part of my day is putting my clothes on. I can’t stand it. *laughs* I will be happy in tiny G-strings and heels – everything else is just annoying to me!
H-M: It sounds like typical psycho-babble, but do you think kind of environment and upbringing caused or encouraged this path?
M: Well no one else in my family is like that – my brother and sister aren’t.
H-M: Did it feel like a rebellion to you – forging your own identity… Anything like that? You know, that’s the kind of common thing people might think – you’re a product of your upbringing…
M: I’ve thought of that. I’ve thought about that, but I never really felt like, ‘I’m going to do this and rebel’. I never really thought about it, it just felt like that’s what I was supposed to be doing.
H-M: It felt like a calling, a natural progression –
M: Yeah, it is.
H-M: And you’re well educated! I’ve read different things; one source says you have a degree in acupuncture!
M: I don’t even know where that came from! Someone said that to me and I was like, ‘what are you talking about?’ *laughs*
… It was finance. I don’t know anything about acupuncture! … Someone said they read that on Wikipedia – I guess if you’re going to make stuff up that’s not bad. Can you imagine me doing acupuncture?!
H-M: I can’t believe there’s a degree in it! Is there?
M: I don’t know! *laughs*
H-M: But it’s like two completely different worlds – finance and striptease. I wondered how they collided – surely you must have had some different plan or vision of your future, or was it more of a ‘I want a backup’?
M: No, I didn’t want to do it at all – I hated it.
H-M: Did your parents say, ‘you’re going to go to college!’
M: It was, you know, ‘you have to get a real job,’ and I really wanted to dance, that’s all I wanted to do. For my first two years of college I went to a community college, because I had a scholarship there – so I don’t want to go anyway, great I don’t have to pay for it! And I get to go in the city and dance and do what I want to do and teach – that’s what I really wanted. And then I ended up going to the University of Illinois, because the boy I was dating at the time went there –
H-M: As so often happens!
M: Yeah. And he was doing engineering, and he also didn’t think that I could be a dancer, or that I should –
H-M: Oh, how supportive!
M: I know! I mean, I don’t even understand what I was doing at the time. So I just thought, okay, I’m gonna do finance! I was good at math, and I enjoyed it to a degree, you know. But the thought of me in an office is just ridiculous!
H-M: I can’t imagine you in an office…
M: I did it once as an internship – I was a telecommunications analyst, and it was hellish! *laughs* I just don’t understand how people do that every day. No, it’s not me. But I have it, doesn’t mean I know anything about it, because I was choreographing in my head most of the time in class!
H-M: So it was more just a sort of compromise –
M: Yeah, I don’t know. I mean I still danced on the side. It’s not like it made my parents happy… We’ve had a very rocky relationship, and I’ve been disowned from the family three times or so. My mum just started coming back around in the last year.
So, you know, I don’t even know what I was doing – I don’t know if I was subconsciously looking for approval or… I guess I just believed all the hype – that I couldn’t do it, so I just did something else, and then I thought FUCK THAT!
H-M: So where was the ‘fuck that’ turning point? What made you think, ‘you know what, I can do it, I’m going to do it’?
M: The ‘fuck that’ turning point was: I was working in a candy shop in college called Inside Scoop, and I heard on the radio that there was this dance audition for an agency, and I said, ‘ahh, im bored out of my mind, I haven’t auditioned in a while, so maybe I’ll just go’. It was like one of those really scammy talent things, you know, but I just needed to get out and do something.
But that’s where I met Franky, and Franky saw me dance, he saw me audition. I did this aggressive rock dance, and at the time he had a rock band and wanted to do this Vegas show with this industrial glam-band, but with dancers and stuff in the back. So he approached me about choreographing and doing that, and I said sure, and that’s how we started working together. And then the first show that we produced (it was like the day after or week after or something), about a month before graduation, I thought, ‘this is what I’m gonna do now’.
I cancelled all my interviews; I had all these travelling interviews and I just called and cancelled them and just went for it. And that is totally crazy, but that’s what happened. So instead of going to make money and a living I chose to suffer for a little bit!
Michelle: The Dancer…
H-M: I’ve read that you studied countless forms of dance from your teens and I have a couple of dance-related questions. One is, do you think that a background in dance or a pursuit of dance for performers is an essential core part of burlesque performance?
M: I think that because this is such a physical and visual art that it’s really important that you know how to move your body. I think that taking it from a theatrical point of view is totally fine, however even in theatre you need to know how to move your body, and I think that applies double when you’re dancing naked. You can see everything! I really think it’s a big part of it.
H-M: So you would advocate performers pursuing some form of movement class or study some form of dance…
M: Yeah it’s good, it’s good for you, you know? Gosh, if you can expand on your skills then that’s great.
H-M: This might be a difficult question, but do you consider striptease, burlesque, as essentially a dance medium?
M: Goodness… That’s a tough one! The hard thing that I see with dancers is that they can leave the tease out of it and it just becomes a dancer taking her clothes off, which is not interesting. If there’s no connection… I don’t know how else to describe it.
H-M: So I suppose then the opposite could be true as well – emphasising the tease aspect but not concentrating on their choreography and placement, finesse and all those sorts of things…
M: Exactly, that’s the trick – the trick and the art of it is blending those things and finding the right balance of everything and that’s what makes it something special; when those things happen together.
H-M: So when did all your dancing turn into striptease? What caused that transition, that new focus for you – was there a key moment?
M: Before I was even dancing! It was always there. It was always there, even before. I didn’t take class until I was fifteen because I was way too shy to do anything in front of anybody –
H-M: See, I find that so funny, knowing you now!
M: Yeah! *laughs* I started first playing the violin, I played for ten years, but that was easier for me because I could hide behind the music. I could hide behind the music stand and the violin –
H-M: Like a prop –
M: Yeah. It was like my first little tiptoe into public performance. But with the sexy side of things, I remember even before dance that I was just really interested in how to be sexy and beautiful. I would stand in front of the mirror a lot and try to figure out poses that I thought looked cool, and I don’t really know why *laughs* but it’s come in handy so that’s good! Yeah, so it was always there, I just had to do it!
“I approach sexuality with intelligence, and I think that’s something that isn’t done and I think it should be done. I don’t think it should be denied, I don’t think intelligence and sexuality need to be split up. I really hate it when women dumb themselves down to be sexy. It makes me crazy…”
H-M: I want to come back to Franky and your relationship, but I also just want to come back to the issue of being comfortable with your body and your own sensuality. Do you think 21st Century women are almost afraid of their bodies and their sexuality?
M: Absolutely. Yes.
H-M: I think that maybe they are so conscious of being judged or evaluated on that level alone, maybe objectified, and so maybe they feel that they constantly have to move away from the sensual and the erotic and prove that they are something else, that they have more levels, you know – a substantial part of themselves…
M: Yeah, it’s really hard for me. I mean, as a teacher I see it all the time, but it is encouraging that it can change. But I do see it, often, and what’s happening is, the women aren’t really being true to themselves as women, they’re denying all of that. It’s a gift to be a woman, and that should be exciting and you should use what you have, you know? And to see as twisted and squeezed out and become this awkward sexual thing where it’s not… I mean, I don’t get it! And I feel bad for them, because it just doesn’t have to be that way … So I strive to change that.
H-M: You’re often asked to address women on self-esteem issues. When you teach burlesque, is there something else at the heart of it that you are really trying to teach and get across?
M: Well, yes. I mean, underlying – I don’t wear it on my sleeve but underlying, it’s just finding that comfort level with your body, knowing what your body can do, knowing how to play up those parts of you. Even just walking and standing up straight, and being proud and presenting yourself and not apologising for it. I think that is so difficult because you’re not taught that, and I have trouble with that still – I will apologise for myself behind the scenes and in many conversations with Franky. I’ll be like, ‘ohh sorry I didn’t mean to do that’ –
H-M: Yeah, I say sorry for saying sorry!
M: Yes exactly, exactly. It’s kinda silly, and I struggle because I don’t want to be arrogant, but also it’s that confidence and arrogance border.
H-M: Obviously not all of the women in your classes will go on to be performers, but there’s so much they can take away from it without having to go to that stage…
M: Yeah, and I hear so many times how much I’ve changed people’s lives and that is really exciting.
H-M: That must be really rewarding.
M: In times where I’m just feeling really frustrated and, you know, ‘why do I do this?’ Someone will say something like that and THAT’S why.
H-M: It reminds you why you do it.
You do have an obvious, strong portion of female fans; I remember reading that one woman got so whipped up and excited at one of your performances she just hurled her panties onto the stage –
H-M: That makes me ask – why do you think you have avoided perhaps threatening or irritating women? Some overtly sensual women do – do you have any idea why or how you have avoided that happening, or for that matter, why women are threatened by eachother at all?
M: I think that I have avoided that, for the most part, because I approach sexuality with intelligence, and I think that’s something that isn’t done and I think it should be done. I don’t think it should be denied, I don’t think intelligence and sexuality need to be split up. I really hate it when women dumb themselves down to be sexy. It makes me crazy.
So, I think that’s part of the reason, but I also think that I have an accessibility to me, which I struggle with, because sometimes I don’t want to be so accessible – I just want to be this ‘goddess’ thing, you know?
H-M: With an unattainable mystery!
M: Yeah! Like, I am – you wanna talk to me? Great, talk to me! You know, I’m not scary. I think I just have this accessibility because I teach all the time and it’s there, and I want to help people – maybe people just feel that from me?
H-M: I think you definately have a ‘human’ quality to you; you have a past, you’ve had sadness and difficulty in your life, and everyone likes a story – something they can relate to in a person…
M: Yeah… I’m really about coming from a genuine place – that’s really important to me.
H-M: Sincerity –
M: Yeah. I’m just… I’m not about the fluff, you know? I really like substance in my sensuality.
Michelle and the Mainstream…
H-M: On from that: I remember when I watched you on America’s Got Talent – you got a really cool reception from Brandy. And we all thought, well maybe it’s just an act, she’s playing it up. But do you think she actually represented a viewpoint that genuinely disappoints you – do you think that was a genuine negative response?
M: Yeah, it was really frustrating, and it was, it was genuine from her; that’s how she was behind the scenes to me, she was nasty. And, yeah it is upsetting, but I just… It was weird to me that even in the Knight Rider one she didn’t even see the comedy of it, you know?
H-M: I think, my thought was that she didn’t want to see it – she didn’t want to see that there was any merit in it, perhaps.
M: Yeah… But yeah – I bit my tongue! *laughs* I bit my tongue a lot!
H-M: That’s because you’re classier than she is, obviously!
How would you like the mainstream world to see burlesque, if it was up to you to have a key definition set down? What is it essentially about for you?
M: It’s the exaggeration of femininity and all that is woman. And I think if it’s represented in a classy and intelligent and humorous way, I think it’s very accessible to people. And it’s something that’s kind of threatening, because a lot of sexuality that’s out there and that’s being represented in the mainstream is cookie cutter, it’s manufactured, it’s not genuine – so it’s not hitting people at a personal level, it’s hitting people where they think they should be hit, you know? So when they see something that’s actually affecting them it’s kind of threatening, I think. So I’m hoping that the audience gets educated and they know better what they want.
H-M: Going back to America’s Got Talent for a moment then – did you do that for fun, or did you do it to consciously represent the community? Did you have that in mind?
M: No, no I didn’t – I was asked. I thought it was stupid! *laughs* I was asked many times to go and audition for this show, and I just thought it was the stupidest thing! Like – I’m gonna go on NBC and do my striptease? Are you kidding me? Do you even know what I do…?
So finally they contacted me again the last day they were in town and I was like, ‘Fine. Fine, I’ll just come. And you can see!’ *laughs*
So I went in, I didn’t wait in line, I just went right in and did my Snow White act – to the fullest, and did all my interviews in my pasties and G-string. And I got a call [during] an Exotic World … they said, ‘we’re going to have you come to LA in a couple of days, and you’re going to do your Snow White act, but we need you to change the costume – legal legal legal’ etc. And I had no idea that this was going to be filmed, I just thought ‘cool – free trip to LA!’ So I went, and then I saw what was going to happen and thought ‘Oh. Okay, alright… Sure – I’m the controversial bit in the show, I get it, I get this’. But I did, once I got there, once I realised what was happening, I felt a responsibility to represent the burlesque community well, and I had so much anxiety about it afterwards…
H-M: So it hit home later on – ‘I have a bit of a responsibility here…’
M: Yeah! Because, I knew that no matter how good an interview I did, or what my performance was like, they can edit it to make me look like the dumb stripper – I knew that that was a total possibility. But honestly I thought they treated me perfectly, as far as what they put in of my performance and my interviews. I felt good about it, I felt I didn’t look stupid, you know? I was proud of it –
H-M: No I don’t think you did, I don’t think you did at all.
M: But you know, it’s really hard – they mess with you. So now a lot of girls tell me every year, ‘hey, I’m going to audition for America’s Got Talent’, and I’m like, ‘yeah okay!’ *laughs*
H-M: Good luck!
M: Good luck! It’s kinda hellish, but okay! As long as you are realistic about what you expect to happen then… That’s fine!
H-M: You have this franchise, this empire! The L’amour Group – you’ve got a video, you’ve got a photo book, you do shows, you run classes… Is burlesque very much a business to you – do you think about it in a very businesslike way?
M: This is my living, so yeah I take it seriously. I want to keep this art going – I want to still be able to perform, and yeah I have all these things, but I have all these things because no one is going to do them for me if I don’t do them myself, you know? No one is going to create big shows in Chicago if I don’t do it! So I don’t really have a choice. Yes, I have a business head for sure – that is my degree, I learned a little something! But I don’t think it’s bad; I always feel like there’s there’s this little nugget of art versus commerce – you know, ‘if you make money doing this then that’s bad!’ Well the good news is that I’m not making any money doing this, but I’m certainly trying!
I’ve opened up my own studio and I have a production company… It’s a lot of work, it’s difficult…
H-M: I interviewed Dita a few months ago, and we touched upon this, because she gets a lot of flack from people who say she’s sold out and she’s not in it for the art, she just wants to sell her underwear line and her books etc. And I think… It’s important to me anyway that the performers that I admire and respect get the chance to explain that that’s actually not what it’s all about –
H-M: I don’t know if you agree, but I don’t see why good performers should be hesitant about doing that –
M: Yeah, exactly. Nowadays there is no circuit, there’s nothing – there’s no events that you can just jump on and just go ahead an make your money every week and do your shows… You have to have your hands in many pots, you know? You have to able to do more than just one thing if you want to do this as your only job – you have to do a lot.
H-M: I get the impression that some performers or some people almost look disdainfully on it – there’s almost something glorified about the poor, poverty stricken performer who ‘does it for the art alone’ and so anyone who wants to make their living…
M: Totally! And I feel that from people, it’s so frustrating. Because I’m just trying to bring this to people.
H-M: In a way it’s silly because all anyone else is doing – someone who loves their job – they’re doing something they love, but for their living, but for some reason with art and performance it’s different…
M: Yeah! I’ve always just really questioned that whole idea. I mean, wouldn’t you love to make money from your art? Isn’t that your dream? I suppose there’s honour in living in a box and creating great art, I suppose! But, goodness – we have to survive, we have to eat, you know?
“I think it’s really important to really respect and appreciate everybody that you’re working with, all the way down to the person that cleans your dressing room…”
H-M: I’m sure a lot of people who work in office jobs all day would much rather, you know, be playing electric guitar or whatever it is they dream of doing!
M: Sure exactly! We don’t always have to be the tortured artist – it doesn’t necessarily make it good art!
H-M: Do you enjoy producing and choreographing as much as performance? Is it an equally enjoyable part of your life?
M: Let’s see… Ultimately if I could just perform…? I think that would be my ultimate thing. Yes, I love choreography – I do choreography for myself and the girls, but sometimes teaching is a bit of a strain, because it’s a bit more emotionally draining for me –
H-M: You’re quite invested in the people you teach –
M: I’m very invested, and it’s a lot because sometimes it can take a lot from you. And it’s hard, because I also have the performer side of myself and I have to feed myself too, so it’s a little conflict in me, you know? Producing is good – it’s really stressful –
H-M: I imagine you’ve learnt a hell of a lot producing your own shows…
M: I’ve been producing as long as I’ve been performing; there would be no way I’d be doing burlesque if I wasn’t producing my own shows, because there was nothing happening in Chicago, so we made it happen. So it’s come easier now because I have more experience etc. Still, it’s great just to walk into a show that I’m not producing and just go onstage and do my thing – that’s great! *laughs* Because I don’t have to worry about ticket sales and paying the rental to the theatre and paying my performers – I don’t have to worry about any of that!
H-M: Do you think it’s important for a performer to be aware of the production and everything going on around them?
M: Yeah, I think it’s really important to really respect and appreciate everybody that you’re working with, all the way down to the person that cleans your dressing room, if you have one! I think my favourite people in the theatre are the tech guys – the lighting guys. I think they’re awesome. You always want to treat your lighting people well…
H-M: I’ve read some really funny things about you – you have your own star, you have your own cocktail, your own colour – L’amour Blue is an official feather colour! Is it amusing to be like a living brand, do you find it surreal?
M: It’s just ridiculous to me. Franky bought me the star – when he was courting me! *laughs* But yeah I don’t know, I guess I don’t really think about that very much. I wanna take over the world!
H-M: So, you met Franky while dancing for his band… What has he brought to your life, in both the business partnership and the personal partnership between you?
M: It is great and horrible to work with the person that you are involved with! But he is… He is fantastic; I don’t know that I could really be doing all that I’m doing if it wasn’t for him. Sometimes I struggle with that because you don’t want to be the woman leaning on the man! But I think it’s a really equal partnership and we work really well together, and we have such a passion for what it is that we do. I think it’s perfect…
H-M: Did you guys always plan to get married on stage?
M: No! He proposed to me on stage five years ago. And I was the one dragging my feet! *laughs*
H-M: Someone was only saying to me the other day, ‘Franky and Michelle are looong overdue!’ Everyone is really pleased that you guys have got married…
M: Yeah, we’ve been together for seven years and he proposed to me on stage and, you know, there were a lot of issues. I wanted him to propose to me, and then when it came to the idea of getting married, I had all these problems with my family, I had a really hard time being comfortable with the word ‘wife’ – I just didn’t like how it felt, and I just had a lot of things to get through personally before I felt like I could do that. And then this year rolled around, and it was like,
‘Hey, what do you think about doing something at Exotic World?’
‘Yeh, sounds pretty good!’
Everything felt right, and we kind of officially decided at the beginning of May that we were going to do it, so we planned everything for about a month, which is par for the course!
H-M: I loved that despite it initially seeming like a performance, it had the feeling of a really intimate ritual. All the washing and cleaning and dressing you… But again, it’s all sincerity with you; and I think a lot of people that didn’t know, who thought it was part of a whole performance eventually realised that it was a truly genuine moment. Everyone felt so moved that you had decided to share it with us. Was that part of it? You wanted to share it with your community and the people you knew?
M: Yeah I did, just because this place is really special to me, so it was perfect for us to do it that way…
H-M: … Well, you’re such a popular couple, and everyone is so delighted for you. I know people would love to hear more about ‘Casa L’amour’ in our ‘Couples Special coming up!
M: They call it ‘VivAmour’ at home – the Chicago Starlets say they’re going to ‘VivAmour’ –
Franky: Like the mansion – like a circular driveway, with valet –
H-M: Little bay trees –
M: A moat would be awesome – yeah. *laughs*
H-M: Maybe someone will buy you one as a wedding present, pay for the installation!
M: Hey, that’d be good!
At this point, we concluded the interview and went to freshen up for the Sunday night show…
My thanks to Michelle and Franky for their time and generosity.
Burlesque Hall of Fame / Miss Exotic World Judge, 2011 Holli Mae Johnson is the founder and editor of 21st Century Burlesque Magazine, a pioneering publication created twelve years ago to unite, document and celebrate the global burlesque community. Holli is actively involved in the burlesque community on a day to day basis and is privately consulted by performers and producers at every level for promotion, critique, recommendations and encouragement. As a documenter and critic, she has seen countless burlesque and variety performances from across the world and provides an intimate perspective and insight into the lives and careers of burlesque’s greatest pioneers, performers and personalities.