Is there a burlesque super fan who deserves a moment in the spotlight? Send your nominee to firstname.lastname@example.org for their chance to shine!
Name: Luma Rouge
Location: Wherever great burlesque calls me.
How long have you been a fan of burlesque?
Since I was maybe 8 years old. I saw burlesque cabaret acts at dinner theater. My mother read my diary and saw drawings of sexy showgirls wearing skimpy exotic costumes which I had designed and she was so concerned about my mental health she took my diary to my pediatrician and showed her the drawings in my diary. My mother asked my doctor what she could do to help me. My doctor said, “Stop reading her diary”
When did you know you had crossed the line from “appreciative” to “super fan”?
When I went to “Under St Mark’s” in NYC to see Revealed Burlesque. On 8th Street, with a nondescript entrance, I walked down a flight of stairs into a small dark room with a small stage and only a few rows of audience. I was greeted by a girl wearing nothing but a g-string. She escorted me to my seat, last row center. Bastard Keith was the host. He opened the show singing a ballad with an extraordinary voice that filled the theater and flushed the outside world away. Then with a witty sense of humor, he picked out various characters in the audience and joked with them. He welcomed a returning burlesque fan, Clarice, who was seated in front of me.
At that point, I took out my sketch pad and started sketching Clarice in the audience. I wanted to remember everything in the theater. No photography or video recording was allowed and I thought, this show is something special, I must document this. I sketched Bastard Keith talking to Clarice and I sketched the scene of the girl who escorted me to the seat from my memory as I sat there. I did not want to forget. Now my memory is sketchy of all those years ago but I think some of the burlesque performers that night were Peekaboo Point, Gal Friday, Nasty Canasta, Madame Rosebud, and Gigi La Femme. Each burlesque act was unique with an unusual concept. The girls were gorgeous, incredibly sexy, and their music choices were unusual and sophisticated for a stripping act. I was thrilled to hear cultured avant-garde humor alongside pure unabridged sexy avant-garde burlesque acts. The show ended with a nude performer lying down onstage with sushi on her belly while the other performers kneeled around her to eat them with chopsticks.
At the end of the performance I asked my friend when the show would happen again because I wanted to invite my friends. I was told that each burlesque show is unique, there was new material each time. I could not believe that the performers had no record of their performance and that most of New York had no idea of this sort of theater called Neo-burlesque. I went home and scanned my sketchbook from that night and posted my sketches on Facebook. I thanked the performers for their exceptional talents that inspired me and I suggested everyone go see this show. These sexy performers create their own acts, pick their own music, make their own costumes, and choreograph their own acts. They have total creative freedom. I was in awe! At that moment I became a Super Fan.
What or who first turned you on to burlesque?
I grew up going to all sorts of theatrical shows. Started dancing professionally at age 10 so theater was in my blood. I had seen traditional burlesque from a young age in Paris, like Folies Bergère, Moulin Rouge etc., but it was my dear friend Ella who introduced me to Neo Burlesque through Revealed Burlesque.
What is your favorite hometown venue and why?
I go anywhere I hear of new acts. I love going somewhere I have never been before. I love traveling to see festivals in new places. I am hesitant to say where I went most often because there are too many to list and I do not want to leave anyone out.
Do you have a regular table/seat? What makes it special?
I am happiest in the first row where nothing is obstructing my view. Ideally, a seat with room for my paints and enough floor space around my feet that I can throw each painting from each act on the floor to dry and no one will step on it.
What’s your libation of choice?
The sweat sprayed from a breathless dancer on stage who is so sexed up from undulating to the pounding music and that they literally explode on stage.
What was your most memorable night of burlesque?
All. Each night is unique. I adore all performers because I respect their art form. It is incredibly hard to be a burlesque performer and I am fascinated by the differences of venues, dances and the differences in audiences. But mainly, I am attracted to how performers bare their souls on stage. I can literally feel their heartbeat from the other side of the theater.
What is the most exhilarating element for you? The costumes? The skills? The skin?
Their brains—which makes all the rest happen
Have you ever dated a performer?
Do you generally go with friends? Or fly solo?
I prefer to go solo so I can have more room around me for my paints and my large costumes. Also, a date can distract me. I need all my attention on the stage and on my canvas.
Do you travel specifically for burlesque?
Yes. I have flown all over the world and to many different states in the USA just to see burlesque shows. From where I currently live, for the past 10 years, I have had to drive over two hours each way to get to the closest show in NYC or Brooklyn. I pay for gas, tolls, parking, often a hotel room or until recently for an overnight babysitter to watch my children. So, not counting ticket price and tips, it can cost me on average $200 just to attend a show. I go to very late night burlesque at a few venues in NYC and in Brooklyn. I usually leave the clubs at 3am and then I have a long drive home. Sometimes I am so tired when driving home, I take a nap in my car at the gas station on the highway. When I come home, I wake the kids and make them breakfast, take them to school and then go to work. I have trained myself so that I do not need to sleep two nights a week.
Do you ever NOT tip? Why?
I always tip. Except once. The MC was terribly drunk and humorless. He came on when the show began and I was so disappointed that I walked out without leaving a tip—but I still feel guilty about that.
Have you ever introduced someone to burlesque and it didn’t go well?
Have you ever performed yourself? Or wanted to?
My art is a performance. When I go to burlesque shows, I dress in theme for the show or what my mood tells me. Either black tie long evening dress, corset, fishnets and serious pumps or S&M leather attire. I paint in time to the music of the act and I aim to finish the art when the act is over. When I am painting from my core, I am in sync with the performer. It’s as though I can feel what their next move is going to be before they move and my hand moves my brush to their destination at exactly the time they arrive. When I paint, I leave my own body and enter theirs. By painting them, I can feel how they feel. That’s why I paint live at the theater and not from photos or videos.
If you were a performer, what would your burlesque name be?
If you were curating your ideal evening of burlesque, who would perform? No time or geographic boundaries…go wild!
I would want all the performers I have already painted to come back and perform again so I can paint them again doing all the acts I love. And I would want my pro Rodeo cowgirls and cowboys to ride their bucking broncs and bulls and perform burlesque acts while stripping on horseback or on top of a bucking a Brahma bull.