A day in the life of a burlesque dancer

Hello, Scarlet Rose. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got into burlesque?

It all started when I watched La Maison Derrièr episode of the Simpsons, and after my GCSEs I decided I wanted to run away to Vegas and be a showgirl.

I remember watching Immodesty Blaize do a burlesque special on the Paul O’Grady Show and she was just amazing – a very theatrical lady and she wanted to promote good things about the industry, and I remember thinking that I want to be like her.

So a few years later I had a bit of a Google and found The House of Trixie Blue in Newcastle, and joined up to her burlesque classes. I really loved doing it – Trixie was very complimentary and built up my confidence. It wasn’t till my 5th class came around where I was asked to work for her agency and start performing for her company.

And it just started from there. I started performing with other dancers and it has been all go from there.

So what does a typical day in your burlesque life look like?

If it’s a typical show day I will try to relax and do as little as possible before. I will get up, have a shower, and do all the prep and grooming etc.

I always take a packed lunch with me because there’s never time to go out to eat and on an evening after my show has finished there are very few places that are open.

I always do my face and hair before I get there so I don’t have to do too much to it when I get to the venue, apart from adding a bit more lippy or fixing my hair or something. I arrive before the audience gets there to say hello to all the other performers. I will have a soundcheck, get a feel of the stage pace, and do a quick run-through of my routine just to check I know what I am doing – which is super important for first routine debuts.

The audience arrive at about 7.30pm and the show starts. The compere introduces everyone and I always try to text my dad, as he is a performer, before I go on stage just to calm my nerves.

After the show, I just get all the slap off and have a really good cleanse and just relax for the rest of the evening and the next day too if I have nothing on.

What are people’s reactions to what you do?

Most people think it’s cool and are interested in what I do. I sometimes get people saying, oh it’s posh stripping, but I’m not bothered in the slightest. Everyone is usually interested and I can talk about the industry and about performers and shows etc. I had one bad reaction where someone thought I was doing it in order to nail attention and find a man, but what would make them think I was in it for that reason? Burlesque is not like that, it’s the passion in my life and I’m not going to stop doing it.

What are the toughest things about working in the performing arts industry?

I have had a really good experience of the industry so far. The main thing is the amount of work that you have to do. It’s not really regulated in terms of wages either, and that’s one of the biggest things in burlesque at the moment.  

Admin and costume are really tough as well, I imagine costuming to be what going into labour is like because it is a lot of hard work, you get sick of it, you just want the end product and you can’t really be bothered. And then you make the product and you end up wanting to do another one. I make all my costumes and it does take a lot of time and effort, but I love it.

What advice would you have for those who want to get into burlesque dancing?

I remember being asked this a few months into when I had started doing this and I didn’t feel qualified to give an answer. I would say be nice to everyone you meet because people remember you for being pleasant to work with. I would also say in burlesque don’t feel like you need to be the queen of everything straight away, take your time to learn the craft. Go see shows and be part of workshops and find out what it is you like and want to learn. 

And as for a little performance tip – the face is everything. No matter how much of a tool you feel, you will look so much better with a good performance face.