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Performer Ivy Paige: ‘My biggest challenge is convincing people that cabaret is itself quite special’

Ive Paige. Photo: Steve Ullathorne Ive Paige. Photo: Steve Ullathorne

Ivy Paige’s Edinburgh show Seduction is inspired by her experiences on ITV’s talent show The Voice. She tells Giverny Masso why she is determined to convince the world that cabaret is not a dirty word…

What was it like to appear on The Voice?

As I’m already an established artist, I wanted to create as much publicity in the shortest amount of time. I wanted to show people that cabaret singers are amazing. I feel that they are often looked on as second-rate in the industry, but I know so many phenomenal cabaret artists. I think people use cabaret as a dirty word, which I find offensive. In the current political climate, not only does cabaret provide social commentary, but it also offers entertainment, which is what we need right now.

What’s your Edinburgh show about?

It’s called Seduction because when I was on The Voice the press kept referring to me as seductive, and I found it interesting that a strong woman in TV was taken that way. I’ve flipped it on its head. For me it’s all about female empowerment. It’s also about the fact there’s a prevalent culture of pick-up artists who tell people how to pick up women, which I find fascinating yet hugely offensive. I thought: ‘Why don’t women do this?’ Maybe it’s because we are a bit cleverer, that’s why.

What are your future ambitions?

After Edinburgh, I will probably collapse in a heap. Then I’ll rework the show and go on tour with a big band. My ultimate aim is to take Seduction to Las Vegas. As I’ve had exposure on a major TV platform, I’d love to do more TV. Ivy Paige should have her own TV show. However, there isn’t anything else in the world that can make me feel like live performance does.

What has been the biggest challenge in your career?

Getting people to understand what cabaret is. People might think of it as an old-fashioned term, and that a cabaret singer is someone who sings on a boat or sings musical songs but not in the West End – and absolutely no disrespect to anyone that does that – but it’s about convincing people that cabaret is itself quite special.

How did you get into performance?

My mum used to take me to lots of dance and drama classes. I was a natural-born show-off. My first role was as a teapot in a local dance show – my hat fell off and I cried. After playing Annie in an Off-West End production, I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I chose to do a degree in contemporary theatre at Dartington College, because I saw myself as an artist and theatremaker rather than an actor. I got into cabaret in 2006, when I did a show called The Powder Room, for which I created the character of Ivy Paige. I wanted my character to have a real name. Not only is Paige a homage to Bettie Page, but it’s also because Ivy reveals things about her personality rather than her body – I imagined a costume made of the pages of my diary, which is something I’ve yet to do.

CV: Ivy Paige

Training: BA in contemporary theatre (2000-03); MA in arts management, Dartington College
First professional role: Teapot in a dance show at Parkwood Community Centre (1987)
Agent: So Comedy

Seduction runs at Assembly George Square from August 1 to 26

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