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Delores Deluxe Talks Body Confidence the Burlesque Way

One of the huge advantages of living so close to London is that I get the chance to rub shoulders with some of London’s most fascinating, most amazing people, and one of those people is the totally delicious Delores Deluxe.

Delores is an established performer, producer and promoter on the London burlesque and cabaret scene. She is a founder and leader of London’s longest running troupe,  The Kitten Club Burlesque Cabaret which have been performing around London for 7 years.

Delores also manages all the entertainments for Volupte, one of London’s premiere venues.

Having a 10 year background in classical acting and musical theatre, she was delighted to stumble into the emerging burlesque scene in London and to put her skills to an exciting new use. Delores has an all-star troupe of Kittens, all very successful in their own rights within the industry. She has led the troupe to many successes and glamorous accolades including two West End Shows, residencies at Volupte and Madame JoJo’s, Performances at Cafe de Paris, Claridges and Bush Hall and also regular musings on the airwaves of BBC London.

She takes her role of making the world a more glamorous and stylish place very seriously, campaigning for several global, worthy causes such as The Anti-Training Shoe Society, Unsightly Fleece and Hoody Awareness, Grey Underwear Anonymous and the recently formed Lipstick Association, ‘Keeping it Red’.

Delores is here today to tell us a little bit about something that effects us all, Body Confidence

KD: Welcome back to A Hopeful Romantic, Delores. It’s always a pleasure to have you here. Could you tell us what inspired you to begin a course on Body Confidence.

Delores: I have been working in burlesque for the last 8 years and started teaching burlesque around 3 years ago. After our shows, I was always amazed at the reaction from the women in the audience who would regularly come up and tell us, not just how much they’d enjoyed the show but also how inspiring they’d found it to see a variety of real women of different shapes and sizes onstage. They would often ask us for advice on anything from lingerie, corsetry, confidence, fashion and even their sex lives!?

When I started teaching burlesque more regularly with The House of Burlesque Academy, I found that a few ladies in the class would have real issues with their bodies and their confidence and would often ask to talk to me after the class to discuss these issues. I decided then there was probably a market for a class more tailored towards focussing on positive body image, perhaps with a burlesque twist!

KD: Men don’t seem to have the same issues with their bodies that women do, why do you think that is? Or do you think they’re just better at hiding it?

Delores: I think men, particularly younger men, have issues too, maybe they are just less open about discussing them?

KD: What do you see as the main cause for women’s over-all lack of body confidence?

Delores: I think there are many causes – I’m sure that many people have long term deep seated issues with their bodies that a couple of hours in a burlesque class won’t be able to address – I am not a psychologist! On a more general level, I do think the media, with airbrushed and enhanced images on every magazine, has set a very unrealistic ‘body ideal’ for most women

While I can understand that fashion magazines do, and have done this for years, my real hatred is for the newer celebrity magazines where we see women berated on the front cover for having lost or gained weight, wearing unflattering clothes or nipping out without make-up. This sets a really dangerous example and puts enormous pressure on all women, particularly younger girls who feel they have to look a certain way to be accepted.

KD: Do you think women’s attitudes toward their bodies are getting better or worse with all of the interconnectedness of the internet and social media?

Delores: There are definite negatives and positives to the internet – the digital age of Photoshop (or similar) means that so many images we see online are not real and while this does make the pressure and negativity widespread, it can also offer support and positivity.

I’ve had horrible things said about images of me online in the past but these days I choose not to read them!

Delores: Self-acceptance! I try to focus on the fact that we are all individual and unique and to bring in the burlesque theory that there is no ideal, it’s about being the perfect version of yourself.

KD: What do you think is most detrimental to our body confidence?

Delores: Our own judgement – we shouldn’t compare or try to be something or someone we’re not. I also think it’s absolutely vital to be aware of body shape and type and dress accordingly – looking like a million dollars in something that really suits your figure will do great things for your confidence.

KD: It seems to me that pop culture and air brush mag covers and cosmetic surgery readily available for a price take their toll on any woman’s body confidence. How can we combat that influence when we’re surrounded by it every day?

Delores: We have to be realistic and recognise it for what it is. Look around you? You can see that most women don’t look like the models on the covers of magazines and that attractiveness really is a lot more than a flawless face and perfect body.

KD: In the burlesque performances I’ve seen, I notice that there are women of all body sizes and shapes, and the confidence and sensuality all of these women exude on stage is amazing. Why, and how, does burlesque helps build body confidence?

Delores: Burlesque is a very feminine art form –  the costuming alone encourages positive body image by focussing on accentuating curves and celebrating being womanly. It also makes us look slightly differently at what is sexy,  perhaps seeing things as they were in the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s when women’s bodies weren’t under the pressure they are now and a feminine figure was something to be aspired to.

It’s also important to remember that most professional burlesque performers will have had a background in acting, singing or dance so they are trained performers with talent, skill and personality which does breed a confidence that is very attractive and seductive.

Personally having spent my previous career in acting and musical theatre, burlesque was a breath of fresh air for me, finally being celebrated for being unique and individual rather than feeling like the odd one out a lot of the time!

KD: How much does our attitude toward our bodies influence the other areas of our lives?

Delores: Very much so! I think feeling bad about any part of ourselves will be likely to have a negative impact elsewhere.

KD: What regimen would you put women on, if you could, to improve our body confidence.

Delores: I think to focus on making the most of what we have – a Gok Wan approach if you like! Celebrate, dress up, draw attention to your best attributes and get to feeling happy in your own skin.

KD: Tell us a bit about the Body Confidence classes. When are they available? Where? Who can participate? How can we sign up?

Delores: Studies show that women are up to ten times more likely to have a negative body image than men. This is unsurprising when you consider how much emphasis is placed on the ‘thin is beautiful’ message in today’s media. Celebrity magazines constantly bombard us with unflattering images of women, badly photographed, emblazoned with vicious tag lines of how they have gained or lost weight and therefore failing to live up to this ridiculous and un-natural body ideal that society deems acceptable.

We ladies of burlesque are here to help! We do not endorse any of this awfulness. Our industry is made up of women of all body types, shapes and sizes, all of them equally fabulous, sexy and successful with no sense of competition or ideal.

This workshop will look at the way we see ourselves and challenge how we feel about our bodies. We will be encouraging positive body image by creating a burlesque character that is the perfect version of ourselves – focusing on the things we do like, learning to accept the things we don’t and how we can make the most of what we have, regardless of size or shape to begin to accept ourselves as truly unique, beautiful and sexy….. with a little burlesque twist!

The classes are starting at Sh! Women’s Erotic Emporium – the first one is on the 27th September at 6.30pm

£25 (includes bubbly and cupcakes!)

Sh! Store
57 Hoxton Square London. N1 6HD

020 7613 5458 or book online:

www.sh-womenstore.com

Delores can be contacted via her PA, Miss Jillian George–Lewis

You can find Delores Here:

www.shwomenstore.com
www.volupte-lounge.com
www.thekittenclub.com
www.houseofburlesque.co.uk

 

 

 

 

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The Fabulous Delores Deluxe Talks Burlesque

KD: I’m very excited to have the fabulous Delores Deluxe on A Hopeful Romantic today. Delores is the best person I know to reveal to us a little of the delicious mystery that is burlesque.

Welcome Delores! I’m absolutely thrilled to have you as my guest. I have a confession to make; you’re one of my fantasy guestsJ I’m dying to know how did you get into burlesque, how did you get to be Mummy Kitten of the Kitten Club?

DD: I originally trained as an actor and was working as such for about 7 years. I was offered an audition to be part of a cabaret burlesque troupe that was about to be set up. I didn’t really know what burlesque was but I had a feeling I would like it!

I did the audition and was totally hooked – it offered so much of what I really enjoyed doing and obviously the opportunity to wear corsets for a living! I took a decision to turn down a much bigger theatre contract and do the pilot of the burlesque show which I ended up co-running with Kitten Blue and was named The Kitten Club.

Kitten Blue eventually moved to Vancouver with her Canadian Tomcat and I took over the business and show in London and haven’t looked back!

KD: I attended a burlesque teaser taught by one of your kittens, Tempest Rose, over at Sh! Women’s Emporium close to a year ago now, and one of the ideas that I found most striking, that made me want to learn more about burlesque, was the idea of women, not only in control of, but celebrating their femininity and their sexuality. What happens on stage at a burlesque performance seems so much different from what happens at a strip club. Could I ask you to address the differences and your views of those differences?

DD: Burlesque shows and strip clubs, as far as I’m concerned, have very little, if any, common ground.  Striptease is only a small element of what burlesque is but I think many people associate that with stripping and strippers.

Burlesque is an art form which is as wide and varied as any other, while there is an element of striptease,  there is also great emphasis on skill, storyline, costuming,  comedy, message and spectacle. The point of a burlesque act is not how much clothing is removed but rather to entertain, tittilate and even educate!

Strip clubs are traditionally for men. Burlesque clubs are frequented by everyone ; couples, groups, hen parties, celebrations and a large percentage of our audiences tend to be women.

The performers are all in control of their acts which they will have created themselves and are being specifically booked and paid for. Although burlesque is sexy, it is not designed to ‘arouse’ men, nor is it gratuitous or sleazy.

KD: Perhaps this is a good place to ask for Delores Deluxe’s definition of burlesque.

DD: Burlesque is a sexy, sassy and skilled theatrical performance.  Its roots are in variety and music

KD: I’ve only read sketchy histories of burlesque, which I’ve found totally fascinating, but I’m very interested to know what you see as the major differences between early burlesque and the recent revival of burlesque?

DD: There are many different types and styles of burlesque.  British burlesque (traditional burlesque), American burlesque (classic burlesque), neo burlesque – also  there is the Berlin cabaret and even Moulin Rouge. We are very lucky in London to have one of the most thriving scenes in the world at the moment.

Modern burlesque is amazing and unique in that we have so much history to look at and take inspiration from and you will see an astounding diversity of style at any one show, coupled with performers putting their own stamp and creating modern routines with contemporary music and style with ideas inspired by our burlesque ancestors.  Burlesque is very specific to the time it’s created. Traditionally, it would send up high art or make a political statement or commentary which you can definitely see on our scene.  I think the major difference would be the position of women in society now – many of our shows and venues are produced and run by women so it’s a very feminine strain of show business.

KD: What makes the Kitten Club brand of burlesque unique?

DD: The Kitten Club has a very ‘tongue in cheek’ style and the show is fairly quirky – I guess that comes from me and the type of act I find funny! We often describe ourselves as ‘Carry on Burlesque’ in style in that we really like to use parody, send things up and definitely don’t take ourselves too seriously!

KD: As well as performing at Madame JoJo’s and Volupte, you and the Kittens also offer burlesque courses through The House of Burlesque, and one of those course which I’d like to talk more about is a course to boost women’s body confidence. I don’t know many women who couldn’t use a bit of body confidence boosting. Could you share with us how that course came about?

DD: It came out of many things, firstly burlesque made me realise there is no one ideal. Having been an actor for years and often being made to feel like a freak of nature for not being a 5’4’’ size 8, chorus line blondie or just not being seen for certain jobs at all because I was the wrong size or shape. Finding burlesque was a massive confidence boost at the time and gave me the opportunity to challenge what pigeon hole people might put you in.

I found that many of the women who came to our shows would often approach us afterwards to tell us how much they enjoyed the show and seeing a variety of  women with different body shapes. They would often want to talk about themselves and their hang ups ,  ask us about costuming, corsets etc and ask for advice on how they could buy similar. I also found this in the burlesque classes I was teaching – women wanted something more so I set up a body confidence class, which challenges women to look at themselves differently and focus on positive body image.

KD: If you could give women one piece of advice that would help them boost their confidence about their bodies, what would it be?

DD: Ignore the media  – abandon celebrity magazines!

KD: I think that may be the best advice EVER, Delores! Thanks! That leads me to my next question. The gorgeous costumes aside, what has always struck me most about my limited encounters with burlesque is the unabashed, downright joyous celebration of feminine beauty. Is there something in the psychology of burlesque that just brings out the inner feminine?

DD: Burlesque is very elegant, sensuous and voluptuous. Curves are greatly revered and the syle of performance means that parts of our bodies we are conditioned to dislike are portrayed as sexy, beautiful and perfect.

KD: Burlesque has an amazing history, and is enjoying an exciting revival. Where do you see that revival leading?

DD: Long may it continue! Cabaret is fast becoming a number one night out. Time Out now has its own cabaret section with many people choosing a night out at a burlesque show rather than the theatre. There are so many clever shows on the scene with performers and producers really looking at new, exciting ways to interpret the style

I can only see it going from strength to strength with the wealth of talent and vibrance we have in the cabaret community.

KD: As the New Year begins, what does the future hold for Delores Deluxe and the Kitten Club?

DD: The Kittens are raring to go for 2012. The Kittens themselves, Vixen de Ville, Tempest Rose, Vicious Delicious and Tomcat, Christian Lee, are all also well established, successful solo performers on the scene as well as being part of the troupe. We will be continuing our residencies at Volupte and Madame Jojo’s and are looking at hopefully taking the show further afield later this year for a few one-off dates.

KD: Where can we see the Kitten Club perform?

DD: We work at Volupte – a fabulous dinner cabaret club just off Chancery Lane with an amazing cocktail bar and kitchen. We perform here twice a month – you can see full details of dates and book a delicious night out at www.volupte-lounge.com. We also perform at one of the oldest and most established cabaret clubs, Madame Jojo’s.  We perform here on the second Sunday of every month and details are on our own website www.thekittenclub.com.

Come and join us!

KD: At my request, Delores has added a special bonus to this post, an introduction to that most mysterious and intimidating of all garments, the one that awes and terrifies. Yep, that’s right, the corset.

Corsets for the faint hearted!

There are two main styles of corset – overbust and underbust. They do pretty
much what they say on the tin!
Over bust covers your boobs
Underbust sits just under your boobs (can be worn with a dress, bra etc on
top)

Corsets come in various lengths  – depending on your preference, you can
have a longline which will cover yout hips or a regular length that will sit
just on or above your hips (depending on your height, build and shape)

They are measured by your waist – always read the information from whichever
paricular corsetier you are buying from but as general rule, you would buy
one 4 – 5 inches smaller than your natural waist measurement.

The corset has a front fastening known as busks – these are little steel
clips and the back of the corset is laced with the loops in the middle.

To put a corset on, you loosen the laces at the back and fasten the clips at
the front (I find top clip, bottom clip then the middle ones the easiest
sequence, but again, up to the individual)
The corset is then tightened by pulling on the laces at the back to get the
desired hourglass shape!
You can buy a steel boned or soft boned corset. The soft boned ones will not
give the same shape and waist reduction as the steel ones but are more
comfortable to wear as the boning is made of a firm rubber rather than spun
steel rods.

With the current trend for burlesque, you can now buy corsets in many high
street stores, however most of these are not of very good quality. Never buy
a plastic boned corset unless you are only planning to wear it once  or
twice as the bones will bend out of shape very quickly and ruin the look of
the corset.

I recommend investing in a steel boned one. Wear it at home for a few hours
to get used to it and it will start to mould to your own shape. Never lend
it to anyone else!
Once you get used to them, they are real fun to wear, can totally transform
an outfit and will maximise your shape, regardless of your natural figure to
make you look super feminine and curvy!

KD: Thanks, Delores! It’s been an absolute pleasure having you on A Hopeful Romantic. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing you and the Kittens perform again soon!

 

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