Scarlett James

How did you find a passion in Burlesque?

One of my best friends brought me to see a show and I had no idea at the time what Burlesque was. We went to see the show and I truly had an epiphany, since that very moment, I dedicated my life to this art and since Montreal has such a big history for entertainment and cabaret in the 20’s to 60’s I felt it was my duty to bring it back to life.

Everyone had forgotten about it and no one knew what burlesque was. Lili St. Cyr lived here and was THE headliner for 8 years in Montreal with many other great names! ┬áSo there, I founded the Montreal Burlesque Festival, I co-wrote a book on the History of Burlesque, participated in an exhibition for the Montreal history museum, made a mini-series documentary on an international level, and been very active every hour and day since 78 years – I think that sums it up!

What is the most difficult aspect of being a part of the Burlesque industry?

The biggest challenge I had to face was at the very beginning of my career…How to explain to people what Burlesque was, how it is different than going to a strip club, and convincing people it was okay to come to a show. My audience is mainstream, so I had to work hard to remove the fear they had…

What advice would you give to anybody wanting to join the industry?

Do it because you truly love it, it is a labor of love, you have to love the audience, but first and foremost you have to love yourself; be dedicated and resilient. If you are going to do just half of a good job, don’t do it.

Their is a message in burlesque, own your sensuality, be true, be genuine. It is not your body that you present bare, it is your soul, your inner power, your beauty within. One has to be ready for that…

What is the best aspect of being a part of the Burlesque industry?

Like anyone who does something they love, it brings me joy, fulfils me in many aspects of my life, allows me to express myself, and shows a form of sensuality that is different from what we have access to with the click of a finger.

I am making a point. Burlesque enables me to do that. It allows me to travel to places I never thought I would see, meet people from different cultures and different perspectives, triggers my creativity to a higher level and taught me how to run my own business. It has so many benefits for me, I can’t say which one is the most important… I am so grateful.

Do you have a Burlesque icon inspiration…why do you like them?

They all are my inspiration! I am always learning from everyone I work with – Michelle, Dirty, Dita, Perle, Cartherine,┬áKalani, Angie… they are all fantastic, and of course, last but not least, the great Lili St. Cyr.