My phone call with a burlesque dancer

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A couple of week’s ago I interviewed Burlesque dancer, Constance Peach for my student newspaper, here’s what happened: 

Burlesque. Even the word sounds exotic, conjuring up images of Dita von Teese, feathers, glitter and giant cocktail glasses. This is a world so removed from the mundane that its hard to believe that the performers are actually real people. Especially when they have names like Constance Peach. How would I know who I was talking to? Who really was ‘Constance Peach’? I quickly typed the name into google before it was time to call: images of a beautiful blonde woman decorated with pink feathers filled my screen. A flamingo?

“My real name is Alice Foster. Having two names just makes it easier, keeps it separate.”

Miss Peach aka Alice Foster, as it turns out, is a retired lecturer in animal science, who now lives with her two children in Gosforth, but what made her decide to swap her barbour for a corset?

“Well, I took a break from lecturing and had the children, and then I just felt like something was missing. I wanted a creative outlet and though I hadn’t done much dancing, I had always loved performance art and vintage fashion.”

Alice’s lack of dancing experience clearly hasn’t hindered her career though, after entering the North East burlesque scene in 2010 she was met with rave reviews, earning reputation as ‘the peaches and cream of burlesque’, and now she runs her own burlesque extravaganza, ‘Casa Bellini’, at The People’s Theatre in Heaton. But what makes a good burlesque performer?

“For me, burlesque is an art form so it’s not enough to just look pretty. Admittedly, you do have to look great on stage, but it’s also about your whole demeanour and committing to the role. I am Constance Peach from the moment I enter the theatre right until I get in my car at the end of the night.”

Constance Peach must have a pretty elaborate wardrobe, where do you buy all your outfits?

“I actually make a lot of my costumes. I like them to be as original as possible. I’m working on a 1920s inspired piece at the moment, which is lime green and peach, but sometimes we need the help of a specialist. As you can imagine, when your job is undressing you need clothes which are easy to take off!”

Ah, the old age issue of trying to undress sexily. I wonder if the mistress of seduction can give me any tips to avoid spoiling the mood with a stuck trouser leg? Ladies, listen in.

“Take short cuts! If you’re wearing suspenders don’t do all the clips up and don’t be afraid to practice beforehand in your bedroom. Also remember that sexy doesn’t just mean erotic underwear. It can just be wearing a man’s t-shirt with nothing on underneath, try to go for something that’s a bit more sensual.

Confidence is always attractive so take your time and don’t be afraid if you make mistakes. It’s all about the tease!”

Burlesque has the reputation of being a bit sleazy. I wonder if Miss. Peach ever attracts the wrong type of attention?

“There have been a few shows where the gentlemen have been, well, not very gentlemanly, but its about showing them who’s boss. It’s not a sleazy thing in reality. Mainly girls come to watch the shows. Women like being entertained by real people who don’t necessarily look like they’ve walked straight out of a magazine and with whom they can relate.”

I thank Alice and tell her that my boyfriend and I will be in the audience for her next show. Even over the phone, my apprehension is clearly obvious.

“Just dress up and enjoy yourself. People think they will be put on the spot and made to feel uncomfortable, but we embrace our audience. It’s like an adult pantomime with comedy acts, dancers, international performers and a vintage market before the performance begins. I mean you will see boobies, but it’s all great fun. We encourage wolf whistling, feet stamping – the works! Your boyfriend will probably want to buy you nipple tassels by the end of the night!”

Yikes, sounds like I’m in for a pretty exciting evening.

[interview originally published in The Courier]

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