Monday 22 June 2009

Guest Blogger: Tempest Rose

Firstly, I would like to thank Burlesque against Breast Cancer for kindly inviting me to contribute to this wonderful blog and to show my support for this worthwhile cause, and secondly to thank all those who have supported my work over the last few years. And lastly I’d like to dedicate this story to Scott – a Good Samaritan!

I came to burlesque through a career in traditional theatre and musical theatre as do many burlesquers and burlesque will always be to me a wonderful form of entertainment with a long proud history. It allowed me as a performer to find a creative freedom that as a ‘jobbing actress’ was previously unavailable to me and to bring together the many skills and talents I had acquired over the years.

I am always flattered when girls fascinated and entranced by the spectacle of burlesque come to me and say ‘I want to do that!’ but always feel obliged to gently probe their reasons behind wanting to take it up and to give an insight into the realities of the job. We live in a society where the years of hard work put into art and entertainment are often overlooked and the common perception is that being a performer is an easy way to glamour, riches and adoration.

Being a burlesque performer uses almost every skill I have ever acquired in my life and takes up every spare bit of time I have. I am performer, director, producer, costume designer, script writer, musical director, PR representative, press agent, technician, negotiator, business woman and teacher all rolled into one!

The job requires not only extreme organisation but extreme flexibility to cope with any situation. Colleagues of mine have often whiled away the hours laughing about the ridiculous situations we have found ourselves in. From blowing up balloons in full make up and costumes on a packed Friday night tube train rushing from one gig to another; keeping a full West End audience entertained as the sound desk malfunctioned during one our Kitten Club troupe numbers; standing under a freezing cold shower soaking my outfit to go onstage looking as if I have been caught in a rain storm; to having to walk through crowded venues with people dancing with drinks in their hands in hundreds of pounds worth of costuming.

I have performed on stages that I haven’t ever seen before until I have stepped onto them in front of an audience to perform. I’ve used my wits to cleverly put down a member of the audience who seemed to feel that a ticket to a burlesque show entitled you to touch the performers. I’ve woken up with swollen eyes due to constantly using false eyelashes and most recently, been stranded at 11.30pm in Southampton having missed the last train to London due to a delayed ferry connection.

It is to this last situation that I must extend my thanks to ‘Scott’, who saw it in his heart to offer three stranded cabaret performers with three suitcases and a bicycle a lift to London and spared us a night stuck at the rail station! I have performed to packed houses and celebrities and shared stages with them which was utterly thrilling, but also wanted to cry when tickets for other shows would not sell no matter what we did. Glitter, fabulous costuming, technical malfunctions, law suits, full houses, television appearances, praise and criticism… it’s been an incredible few years!

These types of stories will be familiar to most burlesque and cabaret performers for whom performance is in their blood and who strive everyday to become better at what they do. I can honestly say I have loved (nearly!) every second of it and would not do anything else.

Burlesque is wonderfully inclusive and performers come from all walks of life and backgrounds and each bring their own wonderful unique style and experience. It’s not for any one person to dictate who can and can’t be a performer but for each person to be honest about whether it’s really for them. If you can change in to full make up and costume in a tiny, dirty room with no sink and no mirror and no help and emerge to perform looking like a million dollars with a smile on your face…then come join the family!

Tempest Rose is a singer, performer and dancer. She has her own revue show currently in Oxford. She has twirled at all the major London venues, as well as appeared on national tv, radio and West End theatre. You can find out more at

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