Burlesque performer Tempest Rose: ‘I had to learn how to entertain people sitting around me with just my personality’
My first burlesque job was in Kitten Club Burlesque Cabaret at underground burlesque club Volupte. I trained in musical theatre and had to put together a routine I thought was ‘burlesque’, with singing, dance and comedy.
This was before burlesque hit the mainstream. I had an idea that it would be like the Kit Kat Club in Cabaret and, in fact, I was not far off. I did the audition and was invited to watch the show. It was exciting, multi-skilled, sexy and satirical. I knew I wanted to be involved immediately and luckily I was offered a place in the troupe.
In my first show, I had to perform two self-created solo acts and five group numbers. There were two shows a night, so I didn’t have time to be nervous. The crowd was glamorous, drinking champagne and dressed to the nines. I knew I had stumbled on something amazing.
Probably the biggest development in my work since then has been in terms of presentation: back then, I didn’t know much about styling and hair and make-up, but I did the best I could and continued learning my craft as the burlesque scene went from the underground to the mainstream.
Things I had to learn quickly included how to entertain a room full of people who are seated all around me with my just my personality. That authenticity and creative freedom among all the glitz and glamour is what I first fell in love with – I still love it to this day. If you feel you might love it too, my advice is to start doing your own research.
The burlesque scene is now more high-profile and widespread, but you must still bring individuality and creativity to your work. We are artists, so it is not enough to replicate: you must innovate, too.
CV: Tempest Rose
Training: London Academy of Performing Arts
Theatre includes: Seven sold out runs at the Underbelly Festival, Southbank; Shipwreck (UK Theatre Tour); Burlesque Idol (performer and producer) Hippodrome Casino, London; Burlesque Hall of Fame, Las Vegas.
TV includes: Performances for BBC1, Channel 4, ITV 2 and MTV
Other Credits: Founder of burlesque production company House of Burlesque
Tempest Rose’s House of Burlesque Revue runs at the Underbelly Festival until September. She was talking to John Byrne