Miss Burlesque Australia Briana Bluebell
Miss Burlesque Australia Briana Bluebell

Miss Burlesque Australia Briana Bluebell will heat up the stage at Gangsters’ Ball

Did music and theatre play a big part in your life growing up? What’s your earliest theatrical memory?

Definitely yes! I was trained in dance since the age of 9 and performed at the end of year concerts with themes from movies such as ‘Meet me in St Louis’ to ‘Moulin Rouge’.  We were constantly listening to music from various movies and musicals like ‘Singing in the Rain’ and ‘Crazy for you.  This instilled in me a deep love for the vaudeville movies and musicals of old.  Mum introduced me to a lot of her favourite movies as a young child as well including one of my very favourites’ 42nd Street’ and ‘Calamity Jane’,  ‘The Sound of Music, ‘Chicago’ and the list goes on.  The drama, beauty, music and costume all inspired within me a love for the stage, song and dance. Sometimes mum would take me to the theatre and I remember thinking how wonderful and perfect it all was.  Some of my favourite memories was seeing ’42nd Street’ and ‘Anything Goes’ with mum in the city.  They were such special occasions and such special memories.  My first performance in a theatre was at the age of 5 where I played a piece of coral in an under the sea themed concert.

Where did your interest in vaudeville and burlesque stem?

As I mentioned before it was instilled in me at a young age however I think the interest really kicked in when I was old enough to imagine myself in the costumes of the actresses in the movies and when I had the confidence enough within me to imagine that I could do that too.

Was a career in burlesque/vaudeville always on the cards?

Definitely not.  I never imagined I could have a career on the stage of theatres around Australia AND the world without having to have perfect technique and high kicks.  There is an element of dancing in my routines but it only plays one part of what brings the performance together as a whole.  Burlesque/cabaret/vaudeville requires a certain air onstage.  You need to have charisma, personality, and a cheeky glimmer in your smile.  Confidence is an important factor.  I was always the slowest person to pick up choreography in my dance classes and my confidence wasn’t that great so I never believed I could be a good performer but it turns out that my creative ability has proved to be more useful and important to me in the journey to producing quality, entertaining shows for my audiences. My dance training has taught me to have good posture, facial expression and confidence onstage.

Why do you think vaudeville and burlesque have seen a resurgence in the last few years?

I think that if a number of people are passionate enough about something, and that number grows, eventually it’s going to become publicly known.  Of course, there are big names out there who have brought the performance genre into the limelight and that has definitely helped but I think it is the community that has existed for years that has helped it to grow and stay alive.  They haven’t been celebrity names necessarily but they’ve been working hard to ensure performers in the genre are paid and treated fairly.  I think as we head towards a time where everything we do is aided by the technology we like to look back to an era that is remembered for its beauty and innocence.  I think that women like to return to the fashion of the 20s-60s because a lot of what we see today lacks that.   The same with music.  Elvis, The Jersey Boys, Vera Lynn, all the Jazz Bands- they all had a particular sound that reminds us of that era and we love to celebrate our history.  The nostalgia is laid within us by our parents and the same with their parents etc.

How would you describe your act to the uninitiated?

It’s easy to watch.  It’s beautiful, glamorous, cheeky and sexy.  It’s all about revealing but teasing at the same time.  If one part of the body is showing, then the other is covered.  It’s all about wondering what I’m going to do next and how.  My second act is a very sassy showgirl.  Light-hearted and fun but still very glamorous and beautiful with the use of some beautiful hand-made feather fans.

Famous striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee said ‘you gotta have a gimmick’. What’s your gimmick?

Ah yes, the song that was sung to her in the 1962 movie. Times have changed since the days of Gypsy.  Yes, we all need a gimmick to an extent but these days there are so many burlesque performers using the same gimmicks as each other because there aren’t enough to around to keep up with the number of performers.  Every now and then you see someone do something different and it’s refreshing but it’s hard as a performer to come up with something that hasn’t been done before.  Today I think it is more about putting on a good show and performing your own interpretation of that gimmick.  No matter what gimmick you have, you have to perform well.  The gimmick is only one part of it.  It’s not about what you do, it’s about how you do it.

What are you looking forward to most about performing at the Gangsters’ Ball?

I’m honoured to have been invited to perform this year.  I’m looking forward to performing for the audience and showing them my routines and I’m also looking forward to reuniting with The Velvet Set and other performers I haven’t seen in a while.  Being backstage and getting ready with everyone, all the hustle and bustle of the last few minutes leading up to the curtains opening is always exciting!!