* Write a list of all the things a Burlesque Artiste has to do, and compare them with what you know you can achieve. Still think you have what it takes?
* Lovely ladies who you may want to look into are Burlesque artists: Lili St Cyr, Gypsy Rose Lee, Sally Rand, (and more recently) Dita Von Teese, Catherine D’lish, The Sweet Soul Burlesque Troupe from Vancouver… fetish and pinup model Bettie Page, movie icons Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Betty Grable, Barbera Stanwyck, Rita Hayworth, and Mae West for style and glamour inspiration.
- If you can’t find any troupes or shows near you to join, you can start out in pole/strip clubs if they’d take a classier act. Remember that hands-on audiences are a no-no! Burlesque, is, of course, stripping (usually down to pasties and a g-string) but the tease part is the main bit! Remember dolls, Dita Von Teese started out in a strip joint!
- If there’s no chance there, then local bars and clubs need shows and performances of entertaining value to draw in customers on the nighttime. A classy bit of Burlesque is great here also, though it does help if you can sing a little cabaret!
- If you have trouble finding a troupe, don’t start there. More on troupes later! If you do join a troupe, you probably don’t need the rest of this guide! Listen to these lovely ladies and ask yourself if it’s the life you want. If not, search for another troupe, or go it solo.
* For hair and make-up: try cherry red lips, and black cat-flicked eyeliner. Look at vintage hairstyles for inspiration in the eras 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Barrel-curled hair is easy, best done with nylon net rollers and pins! You can also use hot-rollers, they are great and quick before a show! Invest in lots and lots of hairspray. Be bold with colour. If you’re wearing a blue corset, wear blue nail varnish and blue lipstick, but line the edge of your lips in black and blend them together for twilight to midnight look. If you’re wearing lilac, wear lilac lipstick, smoking purple eyes, and matching polish. Oh, and don’t forget your toenails need love too!
* Clothing: Be a vintage vixen. Curvy wiggle dresses, cocktail gowns, and all manners of retro clothing remind of a more glamorous era when ladies always wore a pair of stockings. Nothing better than to create the illusion of that in the minds of common males, eh? Pill box hats are brilliant- or any hat with a veil actually. Mini top hats are gorgeous accessories and so are big hair flowers and fascinators.
4. Practice and cultivate a show. If you don’t join a troupe, it’s important that you practice the basics. Taking corsets off with one hand, dancing on your tip toes as though you’re wearing high heels, extending the arms and legs gracefully, and so on doesn’t come naturally to some people. Depending on what type of act you want to do, you will need to learn different things, but as a rule of thumb you need to be able to take your clothes off and look good doing it! The idea is that you don’t look like you’re concentrating. When you get dressed and undressed, always try to do it one-handedly, and also as though someone is watching you so you must keep all your intimate parts covered! Can you change your bra without taking off your blouse?
# Seductive tricks: On stage- learn to suspend yourself from a pole and slide down it v-legged. Learn how to take all your clothes off (besides those pasties and panties of course!) with only a fan in each hand as coverage and not show the pasties or panties! Learn how to sit on a chair provocatively. Chairs are great, cheap props, and everyone loves a chair routine! Learn to lock eyes with your audience. They won’t know what hit them. To tease whilst seated, stretch out your legs and rub them round as though feeling the seam up the back, or caressing the stockings. You can also disrobe with your back turned to your audience. Especially taking off that corset or bra… they won’t immediately know about your pasties!
5. You may want to throw away all your drab or store it away for a rainy day. It may come as a shock, but you may find it hard to walk around in jeans and a tee-shirt. Why? Because it's not glamorous. Is Audrey Hepburn famous for wearing jeans? No! Did Marilyn Monroe’s tracksuit bottoms puff up with air? These are two lovely ladies who were known for class, style, sex appeal, and yet they weren’t Burlesque honeys - but they were still icons. You work, learn, and live the fluffy wedge slippers and chiffon nightgowns, but Burlesque is almost about everything we do. If you wear a bullet bra on stage, wear one off stage, and if you wear matching underpinnings on stage, wear them off stage. You’ll probably feel better about yourself too! Be a glamour girl every minute of every day if you want to be a real Burlesque ‘star’. It’s a lifestyle, and it doesn’t have to be expensive either!
- Half your wardrobe should be lingerie! It doesn’t have to be expensive, you can get cheaper items and then customise them with lace and frills from a haberdashery. Alternatively, you can bargain hunt on the internet or in charity or second hand rose stores for corsets and suspender belts, and some gorgeous vintage finery! Panties are best full and frilled. All the better to whip them off and show off that flash g-string underneath! You can get fabulous panties with corsets up the sides, you can unlace them slowly and just let them fall away! Magic!
- You must be able to walk in the heels you buy, and dance in them too. The shoes should only come if it’s part of your act!
- Hands on audiences: No no! We can’t have the audience copping a feel, that’s not what it’s about. Burlesque is a part of voyeurism. Keep out of reach- and make sure you keep all your props and clothing out of reach too! Having a lovely assistant to collect them is a good way to make sure nothing gets pinched.
- Stuck clothing: Velcro = legend. Zippers are great, but they get stuck sometimes so have a lovely assistant on hand to sexily help, or ask a member of the audience for help.
- Losing clothing by accident: It happens. Just make like it was meant to! A bra can take a pastie off if it’s not stuck on properly. Hold it in place, cover yourself with a prop or your hand for the rest of the routine, or lose it all together! Another great idea is to flash the pastie-clad boob, and then take them off and keep the bra on! It wont spoil your dance if you take it off at the end, only to be covering yourself up with your arm!
- It takes a hell of a lot of time of research, shopping, exercise and travel to be a Burlesque Queen. Make sure you don’t compromise on personal time and family and friend time. Make every precious second count.
- Burlesque still comes with the misconception of being stripping. Use a stage name, and stick to it in all interviews, especially if you need a job on the side to pay for the vintage clothing.
- Likewise, this is a world where women need to be careful regularly. If you are taking clothes off, dancing provocatively, and showing off lingerie, be careful of the drunks who don't quite get it (especially in a bar scene).
- For the reason listed above, avoid alcohol while you're on the job. It can also tarnish your name if you're caught drinking a beer hours before a show, and you mess something up (even if it's entirely unrelated).