Watching a documentary on BBC Three about nurses being taught how to perform burlesque, I sat and thought maybe this is something I should try, so, I began my research into the unknown world of burlesque. I had just given birth to my beautiful son Leone, who is now nine years old, I knew I had to lose weight and regain my self confidence. I wanted to do this for myself and not anyone else.
I booked for a four week beginners class with http://www.burlesquebaby.com/ in London which was two hours per week for four weeks. The excitement and nerves running through my body was already taking a positive effect on me. I went to my very first burlesque class in 3 inched heels, leggings and a loose T-shirt. I wanted to feel relaxed and comfortable as my weight was 22 stone; I didn’t feel ready to wear a corset or stocking at this point in time.
The ladies in the class were of all ages, body shapes, and creed. We were all feeling the same, not sure what to expect in our first class, but we all got on really well and supported each other.The teacher was fully dressed in her burlesque outfit and looked stunning. She not only inspired me but her class was making me rediscover my body confidence and how to move in a sexual and powerful way.
When the music started, I did not recognize any of it, as it was by Sonny Lester, David Rose and way past the jazz and blues genre. I loved it! I felt I could escape as the music was pumping out of the speakers, we were all following our teacher’s lead. She was amazing and I couldn’t take my eyes off of her! Her hips, bumps and grinds, her flawless moves were making me want to continue the class for two hours more.
Our homework after the first class was to research the past burlesque stars, legends and the music. I bought many books on burlesque too—Jo Weldon, is the best when it comes to knowledge of burlesque! After my four weeks course, I saw Simon Cowell on the TV advertising for Britain’s Got Talent 2009, he said, “I’m looking for something I have never seen on the show before”. I thought, I know he has never had anyone striptease for him before, Should I audition? I got online and submitted my application form, not expecting to hear back from them. However, I had my first invitation to audition for the production team in Birmingham, UK. My nerves were at an all time high and while I had second thoughts about it, I went for it anyway. They were very welcoming and kind at the first audition. It was a long day in the holding room, but totally worth it.
Four months went by and I received a letter inviting me to the live auditions in Birmingham to striptease in front of Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Piers Morgan. The Alexandra Palace held an audience of 2,500 people. The last time I danced in front of an audience of this size was when I was competing for the World Disco Dance Champion. Ant and Dec were in the wings with me, and wished me luck as I walked on the stage. All I could concentrate on was the judges. The judges had their questions for me and wished me well with my audition. The music started and I was so nervous, but I thought this is it: the last chance to dance again. Adrenaline was pumping through my veins, I felt sexy, in control and powerful. I had not felt this way since I was in my early 20s. Before I knew it, one of my nipple tassels flew off, so I threw it to Simon Cowell, hoping he would laugh but at the end of my act, he came up on stage and placed my tassel back on my breast for me, that made my day! I was so lucky, I made it to the semi-finals and danced to my favourite 80s track Flashdance … What a Feeling.
I was subsequently discovered by Sharon Kay, the director and CEO from Burlesque Baby TM, http://www.burlesquebaby.com/ I danced at her burlesque show in London and that was my very first experience of being welcomed into the burlesque community. Since then, I have also hosted Burlesque Baby hen parties in Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds during weekends. I recently won HEAT 2 of the Neo Burlesque Awards 2014, run by Burlesque Baby. This competition is open to all burlesque and boylesque performers from around the world and it is a fantastic event. The audience get to be involved in the judging process along with the judges. Burlesque has changed my life for the better. I have lost seven stone in weight since I started dancing again. My self-esteem and confidence are much greater now. I am also more involved in the burlesque community and really enjoy meeting everyone with the same passion. I feel powerful and sexy again !!!
I have recently connected with a burlesque legend from the US known as “Satan’s Angel”. She too, has taken me under her wing. I’m very excited to be competing in the Neo Burlesque Awards on 20 November 2014 at Madame Jo Jo’s, Soho, London. In addition, I have entered myself in the Miss Pinup UK 2014, which is a modelling competition. I love burlesque because I am my own choreographer, costume designer, hair and makeup stylist. I am in control of my act, no one can put their hands on my body as my body is my art. Any women out there reading this article, if you are thinking about trying a burlesque class, I’d say ” GO FOR IT”.
Images courtesy of Fabia Cerra