To see Perle Noire is to be instantly dazzled. You can tell she’s a rock star simply by the way she enters the stage. She combines her natural talent with relentless hard work and investment, and has become one of the most desireable stars on the international burlesque circuit today. Hotly pursued as an instructor, she is dedicated to coaching and mentoring performers, and her students include Miss Exotic World, Reigning Queen of Burlesque 2016, Miss Poison Ivory.
Her goals are always clearly defined, and she meets each challenge head-on and throws herself into it headlong. With a rare combination of talent, passion, and industriousness, she burns new paths for herself and others.
I’ve been fortunate to host some of her classes at The New York School of Burlesque, and it has been thrilling to see her develop her vision as an instructor as well as a performer. Recently she took some time out of her jet-set schedule to do an interview, and I’m excited by her plans!
Jo Weldon: How did you become interested in burlesque?
Perle Noire: I auditioned for a musical about black burlesque performers in New Orleans in 2003. That was the catalyst for my obsession and love for burlesque. While I prepared for the play, I found out about Lotti the Body, Toni Elling, the Harlem Shake troupe, and my muse Josephine Baker. Research these women! You’ll see why I fell in love.
When did you start teaching? I remember people clamouring for you to teach and you waiting until you were ready.
I like to take my time with my artistry. I didn’t think it was appropriate to teach until I mastered my craft. I started performing burlesque in 2003; however, I didn’t start teaching until 2010/2011. My fans started asking for dance classes and private lessons so I spent about a year working on the curriculum.
What is your focus as a teacher?
My first Perlesque class was simply an hour of fun! Dance, dance, dance! As I’ve evolved as an artist, so have my classes. I noticed that people feel connected to me during my performances, and when I walk into a room. I started receiving messages from all over the world about my gift to connect and move people to tears. I realised that this started to happen once I finally started my healing work to let go of my ghosts of the past, and trauma. One day, I noticed the light bulb! I have a gift and a responsibility to teach the art of healing through connection. That is my focus as a teacher now. It is my obligation to share how I used burlesque to heal my spirit. I believe you have to master the art of connecting to truly be captivating onstage.
Where have you taught around the world?
I’ve had the honour of teaching in some of the most beautiful cities in the world! I’ve taught sold out classes in Tokyo, New Zealand, Sydney, New Orleans, and of course, The New York School of Burlesque. I also teach independently, so to keep up with my schedule, visit my website.
What is it like to travel as a teacher?
It has been a validation that I’m on the right path. People cry with me in class. We experience healing through subduction. It is a priceless experience. I love teaching, and truly believe that it’s a special gift that I have. I am convinced that I am supposed to teach full time.
How would you define Perlesque?
Perlesque is a combination of classic/neo burlesque, Latin and African flair. Perlesque classes offer a different approach to using your body in burlesque. I teach how to use simplicity to tell your story. I teach how to use your body as a prop with musicality, and coquettish flirting. When students master these techniques, along with connecting, they can move an audience without an expensive prop or costume.
You are developing a troupe. What inspired you to do it? What is your focus as a troupe leader?
The House of Noire is my latest creation. I was inspired by the legendary vogue houses in NYC. Especially the legendary mothers! As the mother of the House of Noire, my focus is to create business opportunities for my members, and show them how to become the kind of artist who gives to the audience. I want my gems to be celebrated and admired. I don’t want them to be admired for their props, costumes, and beauty – I expect more. I want them to become breathtaking artists who leave their heart lying on the stage for all the world to see. The sense of family and community was another motivating force behind creating the House. I am interested in mentoring, and creating dramatic beauty onstage with the lovely gems. I also have the strong desire to give back to my community, especially to the women of colour in burlesque. What better way to give back to them by mentoring and creating opportunities to perform all over the world.
You motivate students not just with your performances and classes, but with your social media posts called ‘Perles of Wisdom’. What inspires them? What are some of the reactions you’ve received? Can we look forward to a book of your philosophy?
To be honest, my Perles of Wisdom are inspired by my life and those around me. Most of them are words I had to tell my reflection at some point in my life. I have always been intuitive so the post always touches someone as soon as they need it. I receive so many messages a day from people who love the posts. As a matter of fact, it was my fans who started to call the posts Perles of Wisdom. I’ve just had a meeting with a special lady to discuss the Perles of Wisdom book! Everyone has been asking for this for quite some time, and now the time feels right. I’m excited and grateful for so much love and support!
Perle is producing her first show ever at Duane Park in New York City July 14, featuring The House of Noire.
Perle Noire interviewed by Jo Weldon, Headmistress of the New York School of Burlesque and author of The Burlesque Handbook.
Jo Weldon, commonly known as Jo Boobs or Jo Boobs Weldon, is a performer, photographer, author, activist, educator, and essayist based in New York City. Weldon’s body of work centers around stripping and striptease. She established and runs the New York School of Burlesque and wrote The Burlesque Handbook, the first manual ever published on how to create classical and neo-burlesque routines. Weldon is active in the burlesque community, contributing her knowledge and experience to projects and collaborations. Though she now works in the theatrical world of burlesque Weldon has never lost the influence of, and inspiration from lap dancing and strip clubs. She continues to work as an advocate for sex worker rights and freedom of sexual expression.