BurLEZque is Perth’s first all-queer burlesque troupe, with a difference.
From educating their audience to providing endless entertainment, the members of BurLEZque have carved out a reputation for themselves. In their latest Fringe World offering, BurLEZque: Pillow Talk, they’ll be exploring love, sex and intimacy through a queer lens. We spoke to MC Ginger LaMinge to get an insight into the troupe!
You’ve all been smashing stereotypes out of the park and presenting talent at its finest. How did the assembly of BurLEZque come together?
The BurLEZque troupe came about as kind of a ‘happy accident’. Over the years, we’ve all connected through the Perth burlesque scene and built friendships through our shared love of performing and our solidarity as queer women. We had all admired each other as performers for so long, we just decided one day that we needed to create something together, and make it super queer. Our first show as a troupe was at The Ellington Jazz Club; it was received really well and we had the best time, so we’ve just continued to work together and develop our shows since then.
Acceptance, LGBTGIA+ representation, individuality and sexual education are huge aspects of what BurLEZque stands for. How exactly do you create a fun yet safe space?
A lot of thought and discussion goes into how we can create the most inclusive spaces and celebrate diversity with our audiences. We’ve all got our own lived experiences with being Queer but we also recognise that we can’t represent everyone, so we try to be really transparent about that. We often have guest slots in our shows which we want to fill with as many different LGBTIQ+ performers as possible, and we always try to support local Queer businesses when we outsource for costume makers, photographers, graphic designers etc. I (Ginger LaMinge) have a background in sexuality, relationships and diversity education, so I love to embed it into my MCing. Even though we try to tackle some serious themes in our shows, at the end of the day, we want to celebrate what it means to be Queer and have our audiences walking away feeling joyful and empowered, so we make sure there is always plenty of humour and light-heartedness as well.
Are there any memorable ways in which your work has changed the mindsets of your audiences and empowered them?
Sometimes within the LGBTIQ+ community there can be pressure to adhere to certain stereotypes. We’ve often had comments from Queer audience members that they appreciate our stance that there’s no ‘one way’ to be Queer, and that all identities and expressions are valid. We also give some visibility to the ‘femme’ queer identity, and have had a really great response from other femmes, as we tend to be percieved by society as straight and it can be a constant battle to feel like we need to ‘prove’ our identities. It’s nice to feel that solidarity with our audiences, and to remind people that you can’t assume what someone’s sexuality or gender identity is just by looking at them.
What is the process behind creating each show?
Usually, we will come up with a loose theme or concept for a show, and then each person will create an act to fit the theme. We have regular meetings to brainstorm ideas and make sure everything ties in well together. We like to sandwich the acts in a group opening and closing routine, they are a team effort but Sammy Sparkles and Ava Royale always shine with the choreography. Once I know what everyone’s acts are about and a running order, I will develop a script to make all of the acts flow together and give the audience some context. Then there’s the business side of things, which is hectic. Veruca Sour is kind of like our business Mama who knows everything that needs to be done, and we all bring our different skills to the table to make it work. We call it the ‘Octopus’.
Like many scenes, burlesque isn’t all just glitz and glamour. What are some of the challenges you face as artists?
Burlesque really is a labor of love. There is so much work that goes on behind the scenes to plan, create, promote, and perform a show. Sometimes it’s tedious, sometimes stressful. But always worth it in the end. It can be a challenge when people don’t see the performing arts (or any arts for that matter) as a ‘real job’. We all support ourselves with other work and study so it can be difficult to find balance sometimes.
What has the reception and support been like in the community?
The positive reception and support that we’ve gotten from the community has been amazing. Our audiences are always so incredible and enthusiastic. We are so grateful to everyone who’s bought tickets to our shows, helped to promote us and encouraged us. We couldn’t do anything without those people.
As a showcase of Perth’s finest queer-femme burlesque, who and what can we expect to see at BurLEZque: Pillow Talk?
BurLEZque: Pillow Talk is a really exciting show for us, and a show where we get really personal. It’s a show that we’ve all allowed ourselves to get a bit vulnerable in, and share some deeper parts of ourselves. It’s just the OG troupe for Pillow Talk, but a few of us have teamed up to create some exciting duo acts. It’s about all things Sex, Relationships, and Intimacy – through a queer lens, so you can expect to be taken on a wild ride of emotions, from the steamy and seductive, to the silly, to the sad. Pillow Talk is a world premiere, all new acts, some amazing costumes, and some ridiculous little surprises along the way.
What are you looking forward to the most at Fringe World Festival 2021?
We are SO excited to be performing in the De Parel Spiegeltent – what a treat! We can’t wait to be surrounded with the buzz of Fringe, and to go and support all of our amazing friends’ shows! Some of our recommendations are: Gender Blender Burlesque, Kiara with a K, Justin Sider is D!ckless, and Worship: Gilded Edition.