Weekly Burlesque: Interview with Immodesty Blaize

Having seen US and UK burlesque, have you noticed any particular differences, either in the audiences?

My fan base is around 60% female and pretty darn glamorous! I’d say it’s a spread of media/celeb/fashionista/cultural types and sassy women. I have found the male/female ratio in USA audiences to be similar, although there seems to be much more of a music and rockabilly contingent in USA.

What do you consider to be unique about your style on stage? What do you most enjoy about performing?

I don’t know if I can put my performance style into words — does “va va voom” count?! I guess all my heroines along the way have been strong, very passionate women, and I have various parts of Eastern Europe in my heritage, so I like to inject a bit of that fiery European passion into my performances. I’m not a cheesecake girl.

Performing is a wonderful ritual for me, right from the moment that I wake up that morning. I can be quite reserved off stage as I like to have quiet moments and take time to watch everything and observe; perhaps this surprises some people who don’t actually know me.

I do believe in “transmit” and “receive,” not just “transmit” all the time. When I perform, that’s when Immodesty lets rip, so I enjoy all aspects of that process. It takes so long to put an act together behind the scenes, so actually getting to perform it is a lovely reward for all the hard work.

What has been your most scandalous moment? Your proudest?

Hmm, well, being a lady, I’m not sure I should put my most scandalous moment in print! Proud moment, goodness…I’m going to mention a different kind of proud moment.

I received e-mail correspondence from a lady who had suffered from an eating disorder and self-harming, and after she came to one of my shows, she said she was inspired to work on her issues. She wrote a few months later and attached a photo, saying she was getting up to a healthy weight again and doing really well. It was deeply touching.

What’s next for you?

My debut novel, Tease, published by Ebury Press, will be on shelves this May. It is a bodice-ripping bonkbuster, so think Jackie Collins does burlesque via Dynasty with a huge squirt of Chanel!

There’s more sex, scandal, Swarovski, and shoulder pads in my novel than you can shake a stick at. If you can’t make it to a UK bookstore, you can check my website for updates and links to order it online.

I’m also super excited about the next annual Tease Show at London’s Koko. I put it on every year, and the 2009 show has another incredible line-up, with Catherine D’Lish, Kalani Kokonuts, Michelle L’Amour, and Perle Noir amongst others, with special guest Marc Almond, our 12-piece big band, and our British queen of camp comedy, compere Julian Clary. Oh, and yours truly too!

Here is a link to last year’s for a little teaser of what’s in store for the 2009 show, May 11–14. Details can be found at www.koko.uk.com or on my website.

What would you most like to say to new performers?

I’d say to embrace what you have and don’t worry yourself about what you don’t have. Find what makes you unique and what suits you, and hold on to that.

It’s far more memorable to do your own special thing and be yourself than just doing a version of a show you’ve already seen someone else doing. I would also say to go for quality over quantity every time. Oh, and of course, have fun!

– Jo Weldon

Jo Weldon is headmistress of the award-winning New York School of Burlesque and is a regular burlesque performer. Visit burlesquedaily.blogspot.com to read her daily blog.

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