THERE are not many things I haven’t done in this life.
Swimming with dolphins and jumping out of a plane are still on my To Do inventory but I can list Morris Dancing and re-enforcing concrete on a building site in my varied repertoire.
Now, despite being unable to walk in a street line in high heels and being a rather ungainly size, I can say I have shimmied with the best and tried my hand at burlesque, that most extravagant, over the top, comical, sensual form of entertainment.
For the uninitiated, burlesque is music, dance, comedy and striptease which started in Britain in the 1800s before being taken to New York where it was taken over by stars such as Gypsy Rose Lee and Mae West.
It has enjoyed something of a revival in recent years and with the burlesque show, Shipwrecked, on at Eastbourne’s Congress Theatre tomorrow night (Saturday July 7), its star performer and showgirl Tempest Rose has agreed to run a workshop with yours truly to show me how it’s done.
Tempest Rose, one of the most exciting and multi-skilled burlesque artists in the world, is a petite size 12 with a wardrobe of lingerie and costumes to die for.
“With burlesque you can be who you want to be you and do what you want to do,” says Tempest, who became a burlesque dancer five years ago.
“It’s about liberating yourself from your everyday life. It’s about bringing glamour, comedy, music, cabaret and entertainment together, throwing in some female sensuality and using parts of your body that you like and ignoring those that you don’t. You can be any shape, any size and just enjoy it.”
My first lesson in burlesque though is to find a name and despite my colleagues’ suggestion of Feral Beryl or Strawberry Fields, Tempest says I should choose my favourite colour and favourite drink. That will make me Pink Vino or even Purple Vodka.
That chosen, Tempest takes me through a few easy steps of how to walk in a straight line, move, shake and shimmy the top half of my body without moving the bottom half and turn around without falling over. It’s not as easy as it looks and when you throw in a couple of tricks with a feather boa, it’s even harder.
“Everything with burlesque is over the top,” says Tempest, “from the bright red lipstick to the way you wrap the feather around your body and the extravagant costumes. But most of all it’s fun.” And fun is very much top of the bill at the tropical burlesque extravaganza that is Shipwrecked, which has been put together by House of Burlesque, the company Tempest runs.
The slightly naughty and nautical shows sees Tempest Rose and her chums shipwrecked by a terrible storm on the Island of Temptation. They lead the audience through an adventure as the glamourous beauties try to cope with island life, meet new friends and learn to survive in style.
Tickets are on sale now for tomorrow night’s show and it goes without saying I didn’t make the grade as a burlesque girl.
But it won’t stop me practising – in the privacy and comfort of my own home. Strawberry Fields forever.
Call 412000 for tickets.