Two time London Cabaret awards nominee Amber Topaz is an internationally renowned burlesque performer. Known for her siren song, comic antics and signature swing prop she was named one of the Top 50 Burlesque Acts in 2011 by 21 Century Burlesque magazine.
Since starting in burlesque at the suggestion of a photographer Amber Topaz has been gracing stages across the globe with her sultry song and dance. She has toured the United Kingdom with “An Evening of Burlesque” since 2011 performing her signature acts like “Sauce”. She has headlined such venues as The Burlesque Ball at the Showzam Festival 2012 and had her own sell out one woman shows ‘Storm in a D Cup’ and ‘the Mile High Club”. She also has the distinction of being the first artist to perform burlesque cabaret in Morocco at the ‘Lotus Club’ and being the chosen cover model for the photo book Burlesque Beauty. She is also a regular headliner on tour and at the burlesque supper club Volupté in London. Beginning May 2013 she will tackle the role of ‘Miss Nightingale’ in the critically acclaimed ‘Miss Nightingale – The Burlesque Musical’.
Amber originally a musical actress and model never intended on getting becoming the burlesque star she is now. When asked how she made the career choice she replied “The universe conspired to find me an outlet for my talents and creativity.” Audiences entertained by her song and dance comedy styles have been thrilled that the universe conspired to bring her to burlesque stages.
The brunette bombshell Missy Malone, who now resides in Central England, is called the Queen of Scottish burlesque. Voted one of the Top 50 Burlesque Acts in the world in 2009, Missy is known for her classic 1950s pin-up girl style and the distinctive white streak in her hair.
Taking up burlesque full-time in 2007 she toured with The Damned on their ‘Twisted Cabaret’ UK/Ireland tour. She now performs with her own revue show, Missy Malone and Friends Burlesque Revue, across the United Kingdom often seen in burlesque hotspots such as the High Tease (Bath), Wet Spot (Leeds) and the Candy Box (Birmingham). She is also a regular at events like the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Rockabilly.
The burlesque performer, actress, and model is known for high energy performances and her use of numerous and extravagant props. Whether she is stilt walking in her ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ act, or covered in balloons for her classic bubble pop routine Champagne she has audiences dropping their jaws. Missy is partnered with Leyla Rose in the Missy and Leyla Show. Together the duo brings a sexy comedy to the stage with their acts Hawaiian Hula, Elf Snowball Fight and the always over top Pillow Fight. In corset and panties, the girl fight with feathers flying act is the stuff schoolboy, and grown men’s, fantasies are made of. Whether as a solo act or part of a duet Missy Malone’s sexy and sensual style is what burlesque is all about.
Beatrix Von Bourbon may have achieved mainstream popularity as a semifinalist on season six of Britain’s Got Talent, but the tattooed vixen was known as a top act on the burlesque scene for years before her television debut. Voted one of 21st Century Burlesque Top 50 Act three years in a row (2010, 2011, 2012) she is a weekly regular at Cafe De Paris and Crazy Bear in London. Early in her career Beatrix Von Bourbon spent several months performing Variety Theater and modeling in Stuttgart Germany. She now teaches the art of burlesque and is a resident judge at the annual Berlin Burlesque Contest.
It does not matter which character from one of her signature acts she is playing, be it the bungling bellhop from Hey Bellboy or the slightly demented tooth collector in the Tooth Fairy the raven haired beauty proves she can deliver a sexy comedy. But don’t put Beatrix Von Bourbon in a box, her burlesque work is groundbreaking and original taking burlesque beyond comic bump and grind. In her two of her signature acts, Winter and Love Will Tear Us Apart she delivers emotionally charged performances full of romantic and dreamy emotions rarely seen in the work of other artists.
Beatrix Von Bourbon said “I believe burlesque striptease is not about being a ‘classy stripper’, displaying generic notions of sex in a tasteful style. It’s got much more depth than that.” She definitely brings that depth to burlesque.
The voluptuous Miss Khandie Khisses has been dubbed the ‘Queen of Burlesque’. Watching her act it is easy to see why she has been voted as one of the Top 50 Burlesque Acts in the World 4 times consecutively (2009, 2010, 2011 & 2012) by 21st Century Burlesque magazine. Known internationally as a burlesque dancer, fire performer, model, writer and sometimes mermaid her sensual curves put the VA back in VA-VA-VA-Voom.
Miss Khandie Khisses has performed by invitation at such venues as the Australian Burlesque (and subsequent 12 day tour), Paris Burlesque, British Science Festivals, Festival of Sins, and Rock n Soul Festival. She is also seen also gracing the stages of burlesque theaters like the Greene Room in Milton Keynes. When not performing she teaches the art of burlesque in workshops through her own school Hidden Heart Academy.
Whether she is paying tribute to her days serving in the Royal Air Force with her act Babe of the Blitz, wearing a gorilla costume in Kong’s evolution or dancing with fire in Temple Temptress she captures the hearts of audiences across the globe. Her slapstick comic style, sexy shimmy, and infectious smile make her a show stopping hit. When asked what burlesque really is Khandie replied “For me burlesque is now more an ‘umbrella’ term to cover all sorts of art forms within cabaret and beyond that involving some stripping (but not always), comedy and a sense of sass.” And that is what she does every time she steps onto the stage.
Immodesty Blaize is one of the UK’s top showgirls and she became the only European burlesque performer to win the prestigious title ‘Reigning Queen of Burlesque’ in 2007 at Las Vegas’ Burlesque Hall of Fame.
Immodesty’s documentary ‘Burlesque Undressed’ was the first burlesque cinematic documentary which was screened in cinemas during 2010 in over 30 countries. Immodesty also brought burlesque into mainstream TV for many years as both a chat show guest and and also with live performances on prime time shows like Dancing With the Stars and the Paul O’Grady Show.
Since her debut in 2005 Scarlett Daggers has been in high demand both in the UK and internationally. Scarlett, who has has unique signature acts including fire performances, is known as the flame haired tattooed vixen of the UK burlesque scene. Scarlett Daggers has appeared at top venues such as the Supper Club and the Cha Cha Club in Paris, and has performed at highly regarded burlesque shows such as the London Burlesque Festival and The Wet Spot.
Scarlett Daggers is the creator, and a resident performer at, Nottingham’s biggest and best cabaret and burlesque show ‘The Gilded Merkin’. The Gilded Merkin is held every three months at the Glee Club, Nottingham. For more information about dates and booking information, check out the Gilded Merkin website: www.gildedmerkin.co.uk
Inga Ingénue, “The Little Blonde Bomb”, was born and raised in Seattle, WA where she began taking dance lessons at the age of three. For the next 16 years she studied French ballet, traditional and rhythmic tap dance, jazz and modern dance from instructor Susan Wright. In 1999 Inga attended Oberlin College where she studied modern dance and performed with the Oberlin Dance Company and VIBE Jazz/Tap Company.
Since joining the Seattle burlesque community in 2005 Inga has become an international burlesque star. In 2008 she was honored to compete for the title of Reigning Queen of Burlesque at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Competition. She is a permanent cast member of Lily Verlaine & Jasper McCann’s touring show “Land of The Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker” and plays the lead role of Alice in their annual production of “Through the Looking Glass: The Burlesque Alice in Wonderland”. Inga is also featured in the wildy successful “House of Thee UnHoly”, produced by The Swedish Housewife, and was the opening performer for the Seattle leg of Immodesty Blaize’s “Burlesque Undressed” tour
Missy Macabre is the ultimate Fakir Fatale. She has been dubbed ‘Sideshow Royalty’ by the British press and she brings elegance to the intriguing world of Circus Sideshow and Cabaret.
Missy is a wonderfully decadent performer with a spectacular collection of breathtaking costumes. One of her well known signature acts is the ‘Bath of Broken Glass’ (see videos below). Constantly pushing the creative boundaries of sideshow art, Missy Macabre combining her acts with dance, theatre, eroticism and juxtaposition. Such creativity shows her as a highly innovative and admired performer. Missy is a prolific fire performer and is certainly one of the most diligent of female fakirs performing in Europe today.
Missy’s stunts are executed with poise, confidence and skill and her acts are reminiscent of the traditional traveling circuses of yesteryear.
The Queen Calavera opened his doors in July 2008. Until today it is the only burlesque club in whole Germany and the bar is open every weekend from Thursday through to Saturday. When the Queen Calavera first opened the burlesque scene in Germany was still relatively small. The first performers to appear at the Queen Calavera were The Harbour Pearls, The Teaserettes, Julietta la Doll and Eden (Glamourama). Since February 2012 the club showcases international performers as well as local talent and in 2012 they welcomed an impressive 52 different performers from around the world to their stage. Most performers love to perform at this venue due to the small, cozy and intimate atmosphere.
During 2013 there will be lots of new performers at the Queen Calavera who will appear there for the first time. Amongst those being welcomed for the first time there will be Aurora Galore (GB), Constance Peaches (GB), Minnie Tonka (USA) and many more.
Here are the best and longest standing burlesque shows around the UK
The Wet Spot, Leeds
(regular events throughout the year)
The Wet Spot has been hosting burlesque and cabaret events since 2007 and showcases some of the UK’s finest burlesque performers, including Ana Fur Laxis and Missy Malone. For more information on events and booking information check out their website at www.thewetspotleeds.co.uk
The Martini Lounge, Liverpool
(regular events throughout the year)
Located in the heart of Liverpool’s city centre, The Epstein Theatre has a striking interior and hosts Liverpool’s very own ‘Martini Lounge’ burlesque and variety shows. For more information on events, performers and bookings please check out their website www.martinilounge.co.uk
The Volupté Lounge, London
(weekly events all year round)
The Volupté Lounge hosts burlesque and cabaret shows in a decadent environment while you sit and enjoy your dinner. For more information check their website www.volupte-lounge.com
Club Noir, Glasgow
(regular events throughout the year)
Club Noir are predominantly based in Glasgow but do travel and host events in other locations around the UK. For more information check their website: www.clubnoir.co.uk
The Gilded Merkin, Nottingham
(regular events throughout the year)
Nottingham’s biggest and best cabaret and burlesque show is held every three months at the Glee Club, Nottingham.
The 7th annual London Burlesque Festival takes place at locations around London from 10th to 19th May 2013. For more information including booking information check the London Burlesque Festival website: www.londonburlesquefest.com
(25th May 2013, London)
The next Sublime Boudoir event is on 25th May 2013 at the Old Vic Tunnels, London. To see photos and read about previous Sublime Boudoir events, see our article Sublime Boudoir. To check for schedule and booking information, see www.sublime-boudoir.com
PHOTO CREDITS: the main photo is copyright of The Wet Spot, Leeds.
Modern day burlesque is composed of many different genres of entertainment but none as famous as the slow sensual strip-tease. When most individuals are asked to describe what burlesque is today they will probably answer with something along the lines of ‘strip-tease’. Burlesque is considered a classy performance by 21st century standards, due to the lack of revealing anything considered truly indecent. Women strip down to a tiny g-string and wear nothing on top except for playful nipple tassels or nipple pasties. This is all people generally and honestly know about the world of burlesque, some even thinking that the seductive performance is all there is.
The word burlesque is an adjective, noun and verb. The origins of ‘burlesque’ is actually dated back to the late 17th century in Europe. The big kicker here is that a burlesque show didn’t consist of any strip-teasing. Burlesque literally means “to imitate, parody or send up” and it became a well known term. Being defined by spectators as grotesque imitations of already existing performances and social and economical statuses. Examples of burlesque performances are “The Rape of the Lock”, “Hudibras” and the scene from Shakespeare’s “Mid-Summer Nights Dream” where his characters, Pyramus and Thisbe, are mocking a romance from another play titled: “The Knight of the Burning Pestle.” Eventually burlesque split up into two types of humor: high and low. High burlesque was imitations of literature and other performances while low made a mockery of serious subjects.
Plays that were considered burlesque could be compared to parodies today. Comedy movies such as “Scary Movie”, “Meet The Spartans” and “Vampires Suck” are all spoofs of other movies. Televisions shows such as “Family Guy” and “Robot Chicken” would be lumped into this category of burlesque as well. Through comedy these productions poke fun at world wide social issues and problems found in society. That’s what late burlesque did as well, making statements of the social and economical classes though crude humor and entertainment.
Burlesque is probably sounding less and less classy as the history unfolds itself, especially after being compared to such blunt, and even vulgar, movie films and television sitcoms. That was exactly how the people of the 17th and 18th centuries felt but at the same time, just like today, they also loved it.
Through the 1830s to 1890s, burlesque turned musical with Victorian burlesque. Taking well known plays, operas and ballets and turning them into musical comedies. Often creating them to be risque and absurd.
American burlesque, which is the most popular form, took certain elements of Victorian burlesque and morphed into a whole new entertaining epidemic. The crude entertainment of the burlesque scene began to simmer down in England but thanks to New York City, it was revived. The American style was mostly centered around exotic performances and female nudity and thus the birth of the burlesque strip tease was officially born. Besides scandalous scenes, American burlesque also incorporated singing, circus stunts and tricks and low comedians to bring back the boorish humor of the original burlesque. The 1920s through 1940s, otherwise known as the ‘Golden Age’ of burlesque, flourished with new burlesque starlets such as: Gypsy Rose Lee and Sally Rand.
Burlesque today has expanded even more and added different and exciting elements to it’s shows. Once a mockery and unsavory form of the arts is now one of the most dazzling display of talents in the world. Each show can be so vastly different in themes and props, such as Dita Von Teese’s strip routine in a giant martini glass. Some performers bring a little special something to their acts from aerial circus stunts to ballet and singing solos. Burlesque is even including the men, crafting another way to enjoy burlesque or as it’s called: boylesque.
Modern day burlesque is sometimes referred to as neo burlesque. Some famous performers these days are: Ginger Valentine, Lou Lou D’vill, Perle Noir and Dita Von Teese. Each bring tantalizing bits of sex appeal with every graceful movement and flirtatious smile. Using plush boas, large fluffy feathered fans and spontaneous props to keep the minutes of their strip-tease lingering, they playfully re-cover what they just revealed. Always keeping the audience wanting more, burlesque dancers often interact with the crowd. Throwing removed gloves and stockings to the eager gentlemen. Ginger Valentine is a straight A tease when it comes to titillating the men. She offers them a glove and when one reaches for it excitedly, she pulls back. Repeating this process until she throws the glove to the side of the stage.
This art form has so much to offer and is never dull or shy. Stripping is an art, no matter what the critics say. Slowly removing only a few articles of clothing while taking up a time frame of three to five minutes. Its a lot more challenging than one may imagine.
Boylesque performers are transforming the classic act of strip-teasing into a whole new and exciting genre of entertainment. Keeping the performances comparable with regular burlesque, men also wear ostentatious outfits consisting of glitter, thongs, nipple tassels and themed costumes such as sailors and school boys. The most enjoyable element of boylesque is the ability to make people laugh until their sides split.
Throughout history women have mastered the arts of manipulation, seduction and sex-appeal. They have also typically dominated the stage in the sultry and flirtatious world of burlesque, strip-teasing their way into the hearts of gentlemen since the Victorian era. Burlesque has expanded into a creative outlet for dance and imaginative performances. Another add on to the ultimate sport for ladies involves…well…not being a lady.
Boylesque mainly focuses on spoofs and ‘acting’ totally and unforgettably silly and coy. Boylesque performer, Tom Delish, created a scrumptious performance where he dances, strips then proceeds to spray canned whip cream all over his chest and nipples. While shimmying the audiences gets flecks and globs of whip cream all over them. Definitely a show worth seeing but if being covered in a man’s cream isn’t on your agenda, you may just want to stay in the back of the crowd.
Just like the ladies of burlesque, the men of boylesque are facing crude obstacles of judgment and rude slander. Boylesque isn’t just about stripping, dancing suggestively, being considered un-manly and flamboyant or dressing up their manhood in sparkly silver streamers and making it twirl like a helicopter. However boylesque performances can be elaborate and even visually stunning without the help of silver streamers. Boylesque incorporates more than just bumping and grinding into their routines, some performers perform aerial circus tricks, puppetry, unicycle riding, pole dancing, plate spinning, female impersonation, dressing and acting like mimes or clowns, musical theater and so much more.
One burlesque performer, Mark “Captain Kidd” WinMill, creates a feast for the eyes when he strips while hula-hooping with multiple hula-hoops. A tricky and daring routine that involves immense dexterity and training.
Where To See Boylesque
Interested in Boylesque now? Some great performers to see are: Go-Go Harder, Raoulala, Misty Meaner, Cherry Loco, Stormy Leather, Tigger!, The World Famous Bob, British Heart and I Kenny Believe it! There are also all-male boylesque groups such as the adorable Stage Door Johnnies.
Many burlesque clubs now offer boylesque performances such as the Wam-Bam in London. There is now also an annual boylesque festival that takes place in New York every year. Other festivals such as The London Burlesque Festival, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver International Burlesque Festivals and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe now offer the nipple-tassel seduction of strip-teasing men.
Energetic and playfully provocative, boylesque shows are definitely worth indulging in.
Top photo: Stage Door Johnnies
Bottom photo: Raoulala
Raoulala is Holland’s premier boylesque performer. A professionally trained dancer, Raoulala has accomplished an impressive career in professional dance including ballet. The first time I saw Raoulala performing was at one of Madame Risquée‘s shows performing his Frog Prince act with performer Deena Ray. Men in ballet tights have a rather eye-opening affect on the ladies at the best of times and Raoulala was certainly no exception. Little was left to the imagination as he gracefully and gently frog-leaped across the stage in those froggy green tights!
Raoulala has appeared on Dutch television numerous times including on the popular series ‘Spuiten en Slikken’ which features discussions about sex, drink and drugs. How Dutch! Raoulala was interviewed by the show and has also appeared as a boylesque performer on the show in just his boxer shorts and a hat.
Roaulala’s style of performance is mostly the enjoyable tongue in cheek comedy striptease that is typically burlesque. Some of his acts are more professionally choreographed, mini theatrical performances such as ‘Thrill Bill’ where he appears alongside Deena Ray in a Chinese take on the movie Kill Bill.