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the australian burlesque festival: interview with dolores daiquiri and peekaboo pointe

The Australian Burlesque Festival is entering its third year and looks set to be bigger and better than ever. Running over the 7-24 June, the festival will be home to your local favourite burlesque performers as well as some fabulous international acts.

I had the chance to interview Dolores Daiquiri from VIC who is the festival’s co-producer, founder and director, and Peekaboo Pointe, a performer all the way from the USA.

Thank you lovely ladies for your time!

Dolores, what inspired you to start the Australian Burlesque Festival?
I have been a burlesque artist for over 10 years and am very passionate about performing and production. I love being on stage as there is nothing more thrilling when you share your passion with an audience and other burlesque artists. Along with performing I have produced a myriad of successful shows and had been toying with the idea about starting an ‘Australian Burlesque Festival’ for years. I wanted it to be owned and operated by burlesque artists on behalf of the burlesque community. This was very important to me and my current partner Rosy Rabbit.

Did you ever imagine that it would be so popular?
Not really! I knew that burlesque was becoming increasingly popular but I did not think there would be this insatiable appetite for the art-form. I think we are successful because our shows consist of so much variety and genres of burlesque such as classic, neo, dark, vaudeville, comedic, theatrics etc. My partner and I really want audiences to have enough choice within our shows so they are interesting and varied.

Peekaboo, what inspired you to take part in the Australian Burlesque Festival 2012?
I wanted to have another chance to tour Australia!

So you have performed in Australia before?
Yes, I was a part of the Burlesque Ball in 2010. I had a great time in Australia; I’m so glad I get to come back! I am really looking forward to seeing new cities on this tour!

Dolores, in my experience burlesque tends to be more popular with women? Do you think that this is true? If yes, why do you think that is?
Yes burlesque is extremely popular with women. A large proportion of our audience members are women. We got plenty of men too but women flock to our shows every year. I do believe that women enjoy burlesque as it is not tacky, sleazy or degrading. Striptease is fun, flirty, raunchy, sassy, feminine, funny and entertaining. Burlesque, when done well, is about the tease and not the sleaze!!

Dolores and Peekaboo, why do you think that Burlesque has been increasing in popularity over the last few years?
Dolores: People love to be entertained and because burlesque exists within so much variety it attracts many different audience members. In one week you can go and see a glamorous classic inspired show to a slap-stick comedic burlesque show to dark and mysterious!!

Peekaboo: I think it’s a way for women to unleash their dirty side. We’ve been told to keep that side hidden for so long, and it feels good to let it loose!

Dolores, what do you think Australian artists in particular have to offer the burlesque scene?
Australian burlesque is currently steeped in theatrics and narration. We love to tell a story and are constantly pushing the boundaries. There are some really creative and exciting burlesque performers and stage shows at the moment. It is a wonderful time to be a burlesque artist and to attend a show.

Peekaboo, who are your favourite Australian burlesque performers and why?
I have a little crush on Tasia…I can’t wait to share the stage with her!

Dolores, what do you think is future of Australian burlesque? Do you think that it will continue to grow or popularity or are there concerns that it’s just a passing fad with mainstream audiences?
There is always a risk that burlesque will implode! The burlesque community discusses this at length from time to time. Many of the revivalists are concerned that there are too many people who think they can perform burlesque as it looks easy and is the latest thing to do. However there is a big push to protect our industry from this, particularly relating to the ‘Hollywood’ sanitation of striptease and the constant threat of girl groups who call themselves a ‘burlesque troupe’.
We don’t think it is going anywhere though as there are some very powerful and strong advocates of burlesque and in my opinion it is here to stay.

Dolores, what inspired you to start burlesque around ten years ago and how did you break into the industry?
I discovered burlesque years ago through my love of 40s/50s vintage fashion and Hollywood glamour. I was and still am very fond of classic pinup styling and would trawl through old magazines for hours. My favourite is a 50s Men’s Magazine called ‘Cabaret’ which would often feature burlesque striptease artists. I got hooked on these gals!
My humble beginnings as a burlesque performer started over ten years ago when I visited the US of A and discovered that there was a huge burlesque revival happening in LA. I was so thrilled that when I came back I co-founded Australia’s first burlesque troupe. I performed at some amazing shows with my troupe for about 8 years but decided to go solo in 2009 as it become artistically challenging and much more difficult to create my own burlesque acts. Since becoming a soloist I perform quite often and have had some wonderful experiences and opportunities come my way.
I feel so blessed to have this career as a striptease artist and have had the good fortune to perform at some very high profile events, star in some fabulous shows, special occasions, produce and direct my own productions such as ‘The Australian Burlesque Festival’ and travel to Paris and London to perform. It has been and still is a wonderful journey!!

Peekaboo, how did you get into the burlesque industry and what advice would you have for people just starting out?
I started performing burlesque about 10 years ago. I am a classically trained dancer, and I was performing in a modern dance company in NYC and I was so bored with it. I somehow found myself performing in a burlesque show, and realized I was home. I never went back to modern dance. Advice to new people…try something new and be true to what you think should be onstage. Don’t be afraid to think out of the box! Take risks!

Dolores, what is your favourite kind of burlesque act to perform?
Classic, classic, classic!! I love re-inventing burlesque of a by-gone era and am inspired by the burlesque gals of the 1930s through to the 1950s.  I enjoy injecting glamour and sophistication into my acts.

Peekaboo, how do you come up with your burlesque acts?
It’s different ever time. My inspiration comes from all over the place, and my acts range in so many different styles. There’s one common theme though…dirty!

Dolores and Peekaboo, would you identify as a feminist?
Dolores: Mmmm that is a hard question to answer. Yes and no! I believe that women should be able to do and be whatever they want. Without getting too political I am all for equality and giving power back to women. We are still treated like second class citizens in many countries including Australia at times. This repression is not just by men but by women as well. I get so sick of some feminists who pick on burlesque because they see it a repressive and sexualising females. NOT AT ALL!

Peekaboo: Yes. I used to hate that word, and I kind of still do. But if I look at my life, I realise that I am way more feminist than I think I am.

Do you believe that feminism and burlesque can go hand in hand, or are they mutually exclusive?
Dolores: Of course! Many burlesque performers and audience members consider themselves to be feminists.

Peekaboo: I do. I don’t think you can do this without being one.

Do you believe that burlesque can be empowering for women? If so, why?
Dolores: I try to stay away from the word ‘empowering’ when it comes to burlesque. I don’t believe burlesque should be used to give women confidence about themselves or their bodies. That is what a therapist does. If women decide to get into burlesque then it should be for other reasons such as a creative adventure or an extension of who they are or what they do.

Peekaboo: I think that whatever a woman wants to do is empowering, whether it’s doing burlesque, being a mother, or a doctor etc… I don’t know if burlesque is exclusively empowering to women. I think there might be instances where it’s not. It’s not for everyone.

While the strip tease is part of both stripping and burlesque, why is there such a distinction between the two? What would you say are the main differences?
Dolores: Burlesque is predominantly for men and women as it is all about the tease and using your imagination. Performers can take off as little or as much as they like. As an individual or group we are in control of what we do and have the creative and financial power over our performances. We never completely strip! Contemporary stripping is mainly for men in strip clubs and is often about completely removing as many garments as possible for the ultimate reveal. Many strippers take off everything and nothing is left to the imagination! Often the girls are controlled by men in these clubs and are dictated to regarding what they can and cannot do. Having said that I do not think burlesque performers are better or above contemporary strippers as many of my pals are working this circuit. They are just different in who they appeal too and who and how we entertain.

Peekaboo: Both involve stripping. Both are sensual in nature. Both are performances. One is a sales position (stripping), and the other is entertainment (burlesque). That to me is the difference. As someone who has done both I find that to be the biggest difference.

If the Australian Burlesque Festival sounds like the thing for you, you can buy tickets or find more information at http://australianburlesquefest.com.

(Image credit: 1.)

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