Welcome to the first installment of Talking Toxic, my new interview segment! (Stop cheering, I’m gushing!!!!)
This time around, we’re doing the nasty with Tiger Tiger, Bristol burlesque legend and creator of Burning Brightly events. We’re talking really dirty things here, we’re talking Hula, we’re talking Feminism and we’re talking Lilo and Stitch… Oh yeah baby! Read on…..
Tell us a little bit about Burn Brightly Events, how did you get started?
I’ve been running events professionally and as a volunteer for about a decade, so when I started performing burlesque I knew eventually I would want to get into running burlesque shows. I didn’t want to assume I already knew what I was doing, as running events doesn’t necessarily qualify you to run burlesque shows and a lot of people just jump in and do it and run really poor shows as a result. I knew I wanted to run something big and theatrical, so I didn’t put on my first burlesque show until I had been performing almost two years and I was confident I knew what I was doing. As it was, that show was a massive success – we sold out and had to turn people away on the night. It was a charity show and we raised over £1500 for the charity. It was after that I decided to put on an annual charity show, and run other shows throughout the year to help bankroll the charity event.
Your shows are infamous in Bristol, I was lucky enough to get a seat at your Jungle Fever event. Have you got any projects in the pipeline?
I’m glad you enjoyed it! Jungle Fever was an awesome show, it was such a pleasure to work with everyone involved from the performers and crew to the stall holders – it all came together to make for an amazing atmosphere.
Our next show will be our November charity show, Girls Girls Girls! A Charity Night of Elvis-themed Burlesque. Beyond that, because of my other commitments my plans for 2013 are a commercial show on June 1st which will help bankroll our November charity show. I can reveal, exclusively, that will we be having a Latina theme to our June show and the line up is pretty much already confirmed. I’m really excited about it, there will be people on the bill I’ve wanted to work with for a long time. I’m also hoping to have the time to start running smaller shows as well to fill the time between the theatrical shows – what we like to call “down and dirty” shows, the kind above a pub or bar, that sort of thing. I’m currently planning one for December 20th – with an end of the world theme, as it’s the eve of the (supposed) Mayan end of the world. I’m hoping to have more details available on that show very soon!
As a performer you are quite multi-faceted, where do you get your inspiration and what drives you to perform?
My inspiration as a performer comes from a lot of different places and is as varied as my personal interests. I have acts that have been inspired by the song I use for it, I have some that have been inspired by films or literature and others that just come from an idea that’s popped into my head and grown from there. Some inspiration can come from unexpected places – one of my first acts, which is now my signature act, Too Hot To Hula, was actually inspired by the film Lilo and Stitch! I wanted to bring a Hawaii hula routine together with an Elvis song and it just came together like it was meant to be.
I’m a creative person, I have performed on and off since my early teens in one way or another and I’m also a writer – so I can’t explain what drives me to perform – the need to create perhaps. It’s just like my writing, it’s something I have to do, because something inside me will wither if I don’t.
What has been your greatest moment performing or otherwise in your career so far?
Every now and then as a performer, you have a great show and those are the ones that really stick with you, I’ve been really lucky to be on the same bill as many performers I admire greatly. So I have so many good memories from performing and when I’m 80 I know I will be able to look back and go “wow that was me, I did those things” and remember the good times and I’m hoping to have many great moments ahead of me. But looking back now, I think it has to actually be the charity show I put on last year – Who Wants To Live Forever: A Charity Night of Queen-themed Burlesque in aid of the Mercury Phoenix Trust. I was compere at the show and I led the audience in a singalong to Bohemian Rhapsody, to have so many people really enjoying themselves really rocked. The atmosphere was sensational and even now I have people tell me that was their favourite part of the show.
How do you perceive the contemporary burlesque circuit, has it changed much since you started out?
It has definitely changed. I first saw burlesque in the mid 2000s but didn’t get into it myself until early 2010 after taking lessons in 2009. At the time it was changing, I was one of many girls getting into it at the time as it was starting to come into the mainstream. But since then the Burlesque movie and the rise in available classes has meant a massive influx of new performers. Some are amazing, but unfortunately some aren’t and many are willing to perform for free so it’s making it harder for those of us trying to get paid shows.
The burlesque scene has become greatly popular especially with the meteoric rise of such performers as Dita Von Teese or the Porcelain Twins – how do you think this has affected the art form?
As an art I think it has become a lot better known and more accepted in the mainstream, which has opened it up to a bigger audience who might not have seen a show previously. Alongside that, burlesque is now wider known in the general public so this has meant that there are lots of different shows on offer now with a really varied audience. It also means that performers are coming into the burlesque scene from other art forms, enriching it with their backgrounds in performance art, ballet, tap, bellydance, fire and circus skills.
Quite a few burlesque performers have come under heavy fire for calling themselves feminists, personally I think that the larger portion of the burlesque scene embodies an empowerment structure, what do you think?
Everyone that knows me knows that I am a feminist, and I have written a couple of articles on feminism and burlesque for the website CoochieCrunch.com (http://coochiecrunch.com/2012/ 05/12/burlesque-feminism-and-superheroines/ and http://coochiecrunch.com/2012/09/11/ burlesque-as-a-feminist-act-revisited/). And you’re right – although I shy away from using the word empowerment, there is a strong argument for burlesque being a feminist act. I know some feminists don’t sit comfortably with the idea of burlesque – which is something I’ve tried to address as a feminist who performs burlesque. To me, the fact that women in this country have the freedom to perform burlesque if they so choose, is feminist. I think that the very act of burlesque itself can be feminist. In my second article I have addressed feminism within the industry of burlesque and really I think it’s just as feminist (or not) as any other walk of life. Women who perform burlesque are not being exploited, they are not being objectified, they are taking pleasure in their bodies and passing that pleasure onto their audiences – what can be more feminist than that!
Now, where can our readers see you in the coming months?
Locally, I will next be performing at my own Burn Brightly show – Girls Girls Girls! A Charity Night of Elvis-themed Burlesque on Saturday 24th November at the Trinity in Bristol (http:// burnbrightlyevents.co.uk/burnbrightlyshows/upcoming-shows/). This show means a lot to me because we are raising money for St Peter’s Hospice who nursed a friend of mine last year, I’m sure she would love the show and I’m honoured that so many of her friends and family will be coming to it.
Beyond that I will shortly be updating my diary with new bookings so readers can check back for more gigs in the future! – http://tigertiger.me.uk/burlesque/diary/
Massive hugs and kisses to Tiger Tiger and don’t forget to check our Burning Brightly and the Burlesque diary for further info 🙂
Bruises and Bile