Before Butterscotch Evenings went down at Eko Hotel and Suite on May 17th 2013, 360nobs had a chat with the curvy dancer, Immodesty Blaise.
British born Immodesty Blaize is Europe’s top showgirl and burlesque queen. An outstanding headline stage performer, Immodesty’s clientele includes Dior, Cartier, Damien Hirst, Depeche Mode, Sony Pictures, and Deutsche Bank, for A-List audiences from Prince Albert of Monaco to Cher and Lauren Bacall. Here is how the chat with 360nobs went.
What’s your real name?
Immodesty Blaise: well put it this way… my mother didn’t call me Immodesty Blaise, she called me a different name but immodesty blaise is my name now (chuckles).
You’re see as one of the main instigators of burlesque dancing (she cuts in: thank you), what prompted your love for this style of dancing?
Immodesty Blaise: My love for that…… um… I was very drawn to it because ever since I watch the film of Gypsy who is the most famous burlester of all time, and what I loved about it was that it was about strong women, women who were in control of their career and women who were in control of feminity , I felt drawn to it because it was about women individual being unique, and while the whole philosophy is that you’ve got to get the gimmick which is about finding a thing about you that sets you apart from everyone else and at that time there was this fall thing about skinny girls in the play, you know…you have to be like a skinny model like Kate Moss and Helen Shieke, you have to be like a skinny girl and I was really curvy and I was really drawn to the show because it was a way of me being able to dance and perform without the expectation that I have to look like a skinny supermodel and I liked that women responded so well for the fact that I was a girl with curves at a time that it was quite unfashionable to be curvy.
So that kind of set you apart from others?
Immodesty Blaise: yes it did
You were originally into TV production?
Immodesty Blaise: yes I was
And you won an award for the Nobel price commercial?
Immodesty Blaise: Yes I did
Why did you decide to leave all that for just burlesque?
Immodesty Blaise: (chuckles)…well I always think the show chose me and I was performing burlesque outside of work as a purely creative outlet but I started getting so many bookings because the performer Gold Strap discovered me and she put me in some of her shows and I was performing on stage with 5,000 people with Gold Strap and I was like wow! And suddenly everyone was talking about burlesque and started seeing me on MTV and so many videos and the whole thing chocked up and then I had to choose between continuing to perform and work because I didn’t have time to do both and I was just so happy I didn’t look back.
360Nobs: we’re glad you chose that because you wouldn’t have been here if you hadn’t. (She chuckles in consent)
You must have had a very hard time convincing the public to acknowledge the burlesque style of dancing, just how hard was it or was it quite easy?
Immodesty Blaise: In the beginning say 12 – 15 years ago in England, it was very difficult because they had some perceived idea about the sensual side of it and I had to explain that it is theatrical, so it was very hard to kind of open doors because I had to explain to people what the genre is. Never mind saying I’m a burlesque performer, I had to explain what the genre was, and you know I was really persistent and I was proud to be the first performer to take it back to western and it was inspiring that we have got into the mainstream in Europe and with mainstream sets because it was always my mission to prove to people that it was mainstream entertainment, like the theatre live plays and musicals and operas and barley and then you can have burlesque, that it wasn’t a low form of art, it can be cast along the theatre. So… yeah.
Before I forget, you became the first queen of burlesque back in 2007 in Las Vegas, so how did it feel after you’ve chosen burlesque instead of work couple with the hard time you went through to achieve that?
Immodesty Blaise: Well it was a humbling experience because I felt like I had some recognition for all that hard work and you know… when you kind of feel like you are trying to break boundaries and get the show into new places and you’re performing in a pageant, you know, you are literally thinking of performing in front of judges and they are marking you out,,, and one of the judges was an old burlesque performer herself and it suddenly felt like the old performance in the 50s had kind of given its blessing, like I was carrying on the torch. It was really humbling and special.
You have done so much to get to where you are, I mean like you are the first woman to get take burlesque back into the windmill theatre………
(She cuts in: chuckles yeah…… you did your research) you were the first showgirl to be invited into the most prestigious debate society (the Oxford Union), you even beat the legendary Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the Nobel prize marketing program. Just what is your drive or motivation?
Immodesty Blaise: well I like going to new places and meeting new people but also it means I get to design crazy and fantastic costumes and perform alongside incredible musicians, and you know…..what girl wouldn’t like that?