Here at Vollers Corsets, we are fascinated by the art of burlesque and its booming cultural scene.
We recently caught up with award winning burlesque artist Tempest Rose to discover her thoughts on the misconceptions within her industry and how the burlesque scene is evolving.
Tempest on her journey through the burlesque industry...
When did you first discover the world of Burlesque? And when did you decide you wanted to make being part of the industry your job?
I first discovered Burlesque in 2007 and knew instantly it was something I wanted in my life. Luckily I discovered it via being asked to audition for top UK troupe, The Kitten Club, so was able to throw myself into this mesmerising and (then) underground scene straight away.
It took me a year after that to take the decision to quit professional acting and focus on my burlesque career, and I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions of my life.
How do you plan your acts?
My acts are usually in response to things - a creative challenge, a frustration, song lyrics, I find I work best when I have something to fight against or explore. At any one time I usually have a few solo acts and full scale productions for House of Burlesque swirling around in my head waiting for the right time to be unleashed.
How would you say your image and performance is different from other artists? Do you have a unique style?
When you're part of an industry that has such a specific aesthetic, in many people's minds it can be hard not to feel like you have to conform. I was mildly relieved all my bookings didn't dry up when I decided to stop wearing red lipstick and black eyeliner on stage a few years ago, silly really. I think my theatrical background has heavily influenced the way I create and perform shows which makes them unique.
What is your greatest achievement to date through your work on the Burlesque scene?
The fact that I can think things up in my head that people want to collaborate with me on and people then pay to see. It's a constant surprise and humbling joy.
How do you see the Burlesque scene evolving over the next 10-20 years?
If we can inspire new artists to really explore burlesque as a living art form that not only celebrates its past but responds to contemporary culture, then the sky's the limit. If not then I imagine history will repeat itself, and then in 20 years time a small underground group of artists will discover and reinvent this forgotten thing called burlesque and it will change their lives for the better.
Photo: By Scott Chalmers
Tempest on body confidence...
Do you think that the industry helps with body confidence?
Yes, as long as the industry fights to stick to its original strength of celebrating all bodies - including ones that don't adhere to the media and commercial standards of "beauty" and "sexiness."
This requires constant vigilance, though. As the industry becomes more mainstream there is more pressure on producers and performers to conform to a mainstream ideal by people who don't understand the attraction of burlesque in the first places to audiences. Massive shout out to my colleagues who have dug their heels in at various points and not bowed to this pressure.
What makes for the ideal corset to wear during a Burlesque show? Do you have any thoughts on waist training?
A properly made corset that allows you to move properly is a must, and it has to fit correctly - there is no point wearing a corset that is too big or too small - it's like Goldilocks, but with heels, red lipstick and kick-arse curves. I sing a lot on stage so I've never gone in for waist training. It’s serious business and commitment so if you want to do it, do your research.
Tempest on integrating in an underground industry
What do you think is a common misconception about the burlesque industry?
That you can put on a pretty outfit and take it off with no thought to concepting, intention and stage craft and call it burlesque. That it's easy. That we all wear red nail-varnish - mine are a particularly fabulous coat of gold-glitter this week.
Photo by Zoe Hunn
Did you find it difficult to find like-minded people? And how did you find them?
Sometimes, but I think that's true of all walks of life. I think like attracts like, but you have to put it out there, talk about something if you're passionate about it and it will eventually fill your life.
Do you see yourself apart of the Burlesque industry for the rest of your life? Are there any others areas you'd like to move into?
I think burlesque in some form will be part of my life always. It's had too much of an impact on me to ever let it go, my blood (and lungs probably) will be glitter-filled forever.
Who would you like to see us spend 5 minutes with?
Tweet us @Vollers_Corsets