LouLou D’Vil, Finland’s “Sex on Legs” and newly crowned Reigning Queen of Burlesque Miss Exotic World 2013 talks burlesque legends, letting go and working like a mad man.
Interview: Divertida Devotchka
Q: First of all, major congratulations are in order for your win at the Burlesque Hall of Fame! You must be overjoyed! Now that things have settled down a little and you have had some time reflect, please share with us an overview of your experience that weekend.
A: Thank you so much! Since that weekend I have been working like a mad man but that’s only a good thing! 🙂 And I couldn’t be any happier because as I have said many times, this was my biggest dream! This year’s BHoF was an amazing experience again. It has been that every year I have been there and this year was already my 4th. It is such a great way to see your friends, legends, producers and also make new friends! The supportive, friendly and loving atmosphere is one of the best things and if there’s anywhere you can hear amazing stories from the legends, this is the place! This is like a family reunion and I hope that it will stay like that.
Q: Supporting the Legends of burlesque will likely be a big initiative for you now that you’re the Reigning Queen of Burlesque. Burlesque legends are obviously a huge inspiration for you – to the extent that you even have multiple legends tattooed on you, including Satan’s Angel, Bettie Page, Tempest Storm, Dixie Evans, Bambi Jones – who else? At what point did you begin delving into burlesque history and what resources do you personally recommend to our readers who are in need of a good history lesson?
A: I also have Blaze Starr and the next ones are still a secret… 🙂 I started to study burlesque and its history right after I heard the word for the very first time. That was in 2007. I started going through different articles on the internet and watching a lot of Youtube videos because there wasn’t anybody in Finland to ask. It wasn’t until I met some of the very first legends when I started to really understand everything better. I think these ladies are the best source when it comes to learning about the history of burlesque because they are part of it! So I would recommend getting in contact with the legends, take them to a lunch and have a nice long talk!
Q: Your costumes are simply gorgeous! Do you make your own costumes, commission work from others, or is it a mixture of the two? (If you make your own costumes – What experience do you have in costuming or design, if any? What burlesque costuming lesson(s) do you wish you had learned earlier in your career? If you commission work from others – Do you design the concepts, etc. and have someone make it for you? As a self-described perfectionist, is it difficult to leave your costume work in the hands of another?)
A: Thank you! I design all of my costumes, pick the fabrics and decorate everything and I’m also able to do smaller things by myself like jewelry, pasties, simple skirts etc. I only need help with more demanding stuff like corsets, big evening dresses, trousers etc. and with head pieces. But luckily I have few very talented ladies here in Finland who are able to help me whenever needed and I enjoy when we have good conversations about what would work the best in different situations etc. When I started doing burlesque I wasn’t a craft person at all! I was able to sew a button but that’s it. 😀 But, I was willing to learn and so I started learning things slowly by myself and finally I was able to do more and got better. I truly enjoy the process of creating new costumes and I’m still eager to learn more. It’s all about making mistakes and learning! Because I’m very much of a perfectionist I find designing my own costumes is the only way to do this and have them to look just the way I have seen them in my head. The visual look of a costume is an important part of my art and it gives a lot of satisfaction when I’m able to see what I have created.
Q: Being from Finland, in your opinion are there notable aesthetic differences in burlesque in Europe as opposed to the States? Are there any other regional burlesque differences you’ve noticed during your travels?
A: I don’t think that burlesque is that different anywhere… Everything depends on so much of a person and her / his personality. I would say there’s a lot more bump ‘n’ grind styled burlesque in the USA than in Europe where decadence 20’s-30’s style is kind of popular. But this is only a rough definition. 🙂
Q: Burlesque became your full-time job when you made the leap to quit a day job at an advertising office, and you said in an interview with 21st Century Burlesque that you have “never done anything that scary.” Can you offer any advice for others considering taking a similar plunge? What does a typical work week look like for LouLou?
A: I would make that kind of a decision with time. The truth is that you can never be sure about life and what is going to happen. Because of that, I would trust in your own instinct and in the fact that life will give you guides. If you want to do something in your life, put yourself into a position to make it true. You have to be brave! But also, be patient and rational. I had a plan B (continue doing graphic designing) if things would not work out but luckily they did. To achieve your dreams you have to be willing to make sacrifices & work extra hard. It’s a lifelong learning process really! My typical work week is always different but I work almost every day and the days are long. It’s totally different from office work because I don’t really have holidays or office hours but again I would never change anything because I love what I do.
Q: You’ve stated that you have a very supportive family, and you’re very close to them and that they’re even “big fans.” Have they always been completely supportive of your choice to perform burlesque?
They have been very supporting from the beginning. I think this is because they were able to see how happy it made me. And for them my happiness is the most important thing and I love them so much because of this fact.
Q: One of my favorite things about your live performance is the energy you exude; you’re so vibrant and alive onstage! You’ve said that “being real and showing that you’re having fun on stage” is “the most important thing,” and I agree wholeheartedly. Care to share any tips for performers who may struggle with stiffness onstage or have trouble tapping into their “realness”?
A: Being real for me is all about letting go and being able to show your emotions on stage. There must be lot of good exercises for this (actors etc. have these kind of exercises) but for me it’s all about dancing. Dancing and music are the best and most simple form for me to express myself. I think you just need to find your own things that make you happy and free.
Q: What’s next for LouLou D’Vil?
A: That’s a good question! I need to have goals in my life in order to do my best. I’m sure I will find my next big dream soon!
Q: Anything you’d like to add?
A: Thank you! 🙂