Leila Brulee is living her passion, inspired by the artform and era of Burlesque epitomised by the infamous Gypsy Rose Lee.
What is Burlesque?
Burlesque is a theatrical form of satire. It is usually tongue in cheek, and involves song, dance, mime and bit of risque humor – but it is never smutty! It is about sensuality in its various forms and giving the audience something to think about or giggle at, as well as giving them a good show.
Some people approach modern Burlesque as glorified stripping, which is entirely incorrect. In most cases, the performer ends up in more clothes then you’d see at the beach. I often describe it simply as Vaudeville entertainment with a little bit more leg, and a lot of sequins!
> You’ve always been involved in performing arts since a young age. When did you become fascinated with Burlesque?
I first became familiar with Burlesque when I was 16. I saw a clip of one of the world’s most infamous Burlesque artists, Gypsy Rose Lee, and I was fascinated by her wit and stage presence. It was unlike anything I’d seen on a modern stage before – kind of like a hybrid between comedy and dance.
I’ve always had an appreciation for the aesthetics of the 1940s and 1950s, and started collecting vintage and vintage inspired costumes and clothing in 2006.
That era is credited as being ‘The Golden Age’ of Burlesque, so eventually it was just a natural progression for me to combine my passion for nostalgic fashion with my passion for performance, and Burlesque was the perfect outlet.
In 2007 I moved from Port Macquarie to Sydney for university, and started regularly attending Burlesque and Cabaret shows. My love for this genre of entertainment has been growing ever since.
> Who inspires you within the Burlesque scene?
I draw a lot of inspiration from international Burlesque stars, like Dita Von Teese as well as the original showgirls of the past such as Sally Rand and Gypsy Rose Lee.
However, I’d say most of my inspiration comes from performers on the Australian Burlesque circuit, especially in Sydney and Melbourne. Every state in Australia has a growing Burlesque scene, and there are some wonderful and innovative performers emerging from our own backyard.
> What other inspirations do you draw on for your shows?
I like to draw on elements of Broadway theatre and Cabaret in my shows. That usually involves a lot of choreography and attention to detail when it comes to costuming and stage dynamics.
I think productions of the past held a certain magic that can be easily lost on the modern stage with all its high technology. It is amazing what can be achieved with a little glitter and some simple feats of engineering.
I draw on musicals and movies from the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s when I am looking for inspiration for my shows.
> Tell us about the upcoming ‘Moulin Rouge’ show being held at Sails?
It is going to be an exciting night of decadent Parisian style festivity, happening on September 12. It will be a first of its kind even in Port Macquarie, where audience members can enjoy a wonderful meal, a glass (or two) of champagne and get a taste for Burlesque, with performances by four of Sydney’s freshest talents.
There is going to be a lot of never before seen acts from Holly J’aDoll, Mimi Monore, Hedy Bell Nova and myself.
Tickets are on sale from Little Red Vamp and Sails Resort.
> What’s next for Leila Brulee?
I intend to keep steadily working on my act, constantly improving and incorporating new things into it. I’ve still got a lot of growing and learning to do as a performer.
Next month I will be attending NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Arts) to study production and stage management. I’m also starting voice lessons to try and bring Leila into the Cabaret arena, and to make her a better ‘all rounder’.
I’m currently in rehearsal for a charity show, and later in September I will be appearing at the world famous Dr Sketchy’s Anti Art School in Sydney.
After that, I am taking Leila abroad and will be spending a month in Berlin, and Holland. I am fortunate enough to be working at the first ever Amsterdam Burlesque Festival, which is a fantastic opportunity and promises to be a lot of fun! Ultimately, I’d love to see Leila become a permanent fixture on the Australian Burlesque stage.
> Thank you Leila.