Our recent Josephine Baker inspired shoot with Miss Noire is exclusive to the Best of 2010 Print Edition. To get your copy, visit our shop!
December cover girl Perle Noire, the Rare Gem of Burlesque, sits down to talk the “burlesque look,” New Orleans, Josephine Baker, Australia, gold glitter and Prince.
By: Divertida Devotchka Photos: Shoshana of DallasPinUp.com
You’ve stated before that you don’t think that you have a “burlesque look.” As an avid fan, let me say that in my opinion, your sultry sass is the embodiment of burlesque, but in your opinion what characteristics must one possess to have the burlesque look? Based on your ideal of the burlesque look, who comes to mind (either legend or modern performer) as the epitome of burlesque?
Well, when people think of burlesque stars of yesterday and today they think of a woman with European features such as Tempest Storm, Lili St. Cyr. or Bettie Page. These women are the definition of a beautiful Bombshell! Tempest Storm, with her fiery red hair and that perfect voluptuous figure had the ultimate burlesque look. You can’t mention the word Bombshell without paying respect to the infamous Lili St Cyr, who had beautiful long legs and luscious lips. They were flawless. When you asked your average Joe or Joan about burlesque these names and images pop up.
Of course, when I think of a Burlesque Goddess, I think of my idol Josephine Baker. Josephine had a theater background and had perfect comedic timing. She was so beautiful and electric, but she became a Legend overseas. Even though she knew how to connect with her audience and had an exotic look she would have never became a burlesque legend in the states due to the fact that she didn’t have the standard ” burlesque look”.
Over the years as a Burlesque artist, I’ve sent my promotional kit to magazines( burlesque and aboard) and producers and thou they love my performances, I’ve been turned down for numerous jobs and promotional marketing because I don’t have the ” burlesque look”. This is something that I’m working on and I’m enjoying every moment of it. Make up and Wigs and Heels.. Oh My!
Tell us all about your recent exploits in Toronto and at the New York Burlesque Festival.
Toronto was amazing! Starlight Burlesque put on a wonderful show and the band made me get a standing ovation. The NYBF is one of the oldest Burlesque Festivals and it was so organized. Angie and Jen put on a wonderful production.
I got a giggle when you recently posted on Facebook that you were “looking to be in ‘like’ with someone.” You also said, “I need someone who can handle my ambitions and many different personalities. I need a mixture of George Jefferson, James from Good Times, Rick James and Prince.” I’d love to know which specific qualities from these men that you’d like to see in a companion.
George Jefferson was an entrepreneur and very outspoken while James Evans from Good Times was a Man’s Man. He was faithful to his wife and children. Even though his back was often against the wall, he keep pushing and striving for a better life for his family. He never gave up. Rick James was so eccentric and confident. We would probably fight over gold glitter but I know he would go to war for me if anyone disrespected me. Finally, we have Prince. Prince and Rick James are the epitome of a true artist and performer. I love the stage presence that Prince has and I would love to borrow his clothes.
In our September 2009 interview, you stated that you really hoped “to become a burlesque queen one day.” That very same month you were crowned queen at the New Orleans Burlesque Festival, and last month you handed over the crown to Texas’ own titan of tease, Miss Coco Lectric. What have you learned since being crowned queen? Do you have any advice for new queen Coco?
I’ve learned that a title doesn’t make you a queen in the community. The title will come from the mouths of the fans. Before I competed for the Queen of Burlesque title I was honored with recognition from my fans and burlesque royalty. 21st Century Pin Ups posted an on line poll for the top 50 burlesque performers worldwide and I made the top 20! I didn’t campaign for votes, the fans voted for me and I’m truly grateful. During my burlesque career I’ve performed with Immodesty Blaize, Dita Von Teese, Dirty Martini, Kitten Deville, Michelle L’Amour and many others. How many people can say that they had a chance to work with people that they admire and respect as artists?
When I made that statement, I thought that with a title I would gain respect from my peers or producers who feel that I don’t belong to the world of burlesque. Truthfully, as an artist you have to keep pushing and striving if you want to be the best. I won a title, but I still have to keep pushing until I break through the barrier. My work is far from over. My advice to Coco Lectric is to stay true to your fans, the stage and yourself.
It’s well known that Josephine Baker is one of your biggest influences. You did extensive research on her to plan your tribute routine. Tell us more about how her life and career inspired you.
Josephine danced through so many doors as an artist. She was the first black woman to appear in a silent film and the only woman to speak at The March on Washington. What I love about her was her drive and passion to grow as an artist and individual. She started out in Vaudeville performing in blackface and ended up a glamorous singer who lived in a castle. Every morning I look a photo of her from an early theater production, in which she is wearing blackface. Then, I look at a picture of her singing with her rhinestone microphone, wearing a larger than life head dress onstage in Paris. This ritual reminds me that the only limitations I have are the limitations that I set for myself.
The name of the show is Burlesque Royale. Danica Lee will present the show Saturday, January 22, 2011, at The State Theatre in Sydney. I’m working on performing in Paris and in London again in the near future. I would love to perform in all the venues that Josephine performed in including the Follies Bergère. She was the first and last exotic burlesque beauty to grace the stage. It is a lifelong dream of mine to perform my tribute to her at the Follies Bergère and at Theatre des Champs-Elysées.
You just moved back to New Orleans. What brought you back and what are you doing next?
New Orleans played an important role in my burlesque career so I wanted to go back to my burlesque roots. I have a few top secret plans that I can’t reveal at the moment but keep your eyes open!