Friday, 7 December 2012

Web chat with Burlesque author Logan Belle

Please join me in welcoming Logan Belle (pen name of Jamie Brenner), author of the Angel Trilogy, a refreshing burlesque themed trio which brings the world of Burlesque and entertainment to readers –  the trilogy is out in the UK now, as well as taking the US by storm.  Jamie will be web chatting with me later today about her books, so if you have any questions for her drop me an email or respond to this post and we’ll see if we can get them answered :)

Jamie was kind enough to answer my questions about the world of Burlesque, and how she came to write the Angel Trilogy – my review of the books will follow tomorrow:

Jamie, I was intrigued and curious as to your reflections on your experiences within the world of Burlesque.  What made you choose Burlesque as a theme?

My boyfriend took me to a burlesque show on my birthday a few years ago. He didn’t tell me where we were going or what we were doing – he just took me to the club and it wasn’t until I got there that I realized what the show would be. I had mixed feelings about it, and that is how I opened Blue Angel – a mixture of curiosity and annoyance. Like, this could be cool, but is it for me, or for him? But by the second act of the show, I was hooked. I was amazed by the performers, the energy of the crowd, the wit of the MC.  I thought about it for days afterwards, wondering who these women were and if they had “day” jobs. What were their backgrounds? Had they gone to university? Did they have boyfriends? Husbands? I was fascinated by the world. When I actually got to meet the women, I was even more impressed. They were smart, passionate, creative (they make their own costumes) and extremely dedicated to their craft.
Did you get to try on any of the decadent costumes the dancers wear?

Although I did go back stage at a show, I never tried on any costumes. However, one performer was selling hand-made pasties during intermission one night and I bought a set. Pasties are these sequined discs that performers put over their nipples at venues where complete nudity isn’t allowed. They’re colorful, usually match the theme of the costume, and often have tassels on the end. Sometimes performers where them just for the tassels, because twirling is a basic burlesque skill and the crowds usually get really excited about that.  Anyway, I bought a pair of the pasties and tried them on at home one night. I didn’t try twirling them, though!

With so many dancers from various backgrounds that you met, what was it that drew people specifically to Burlesque?

I think the one thing that attracted all these different women – different in background, different in body type, different in artistic sensibility – was the rich history of burlesque, and the absolute freedom of expression that comes with performing burlesque.

Were there many differences in the audience or spectators of Burlesque at the different types of places Jamie visited - I wonder if they were all drawn to see Burlesque for the same reasons?

The audiences at burlesque shows ran the complete gamut: young and old, gay and straight, single people alone and couples out on dates. To me, the variety and passion of the audience was the most amazing thing about burlesque shows. I don’t know if they all came for the same reasons. I think some guys come just to see naked women, but they are probably in the minority. A lot of gay men seem to appreciate burlesque for the costumes and the overall artistry. Some people, like me, love watching any form of dancing and love the costumes and music. Burlesque offers something for everyone, and every show is different enough to let you experience something new.

Burlesque shows aside...I think in the UK Burlesque is becoming not only a dance form but also exercise for some - one of my friends attended Burlesque classes for that very reason!

Yes, a prominent burlesque performer in New York, Jo Weldon (also known as Jo Boobs), founded the New York School of Burlesque, and some people take classes to in order to start serious careers in burlesque, and others are just women who want a more fun way to exercise. I’ve never done it myself. I love watching burlesque, writing about burlesque, and reading about burlesque, but I really do not have the urge to do it.  I’m not sure why not – maybe it’s just because I don’t like exercising J

Character outlines from the books:

Mallory Dale – A recent law school grad, Mallory moved to New York to be with her college boyfriend, Alec, and to begin her legal career. As someone who has played by the rules all her life, Mallory’s world is turned upside down when Alec introduces her to burlesque. Suddenly, she finds herself questioning her choices, and discovering an edgier side to her sexuality – and finds herself having to choose between her more liberated self, and her relationship with Alec.

Alec Martin –  Mallory’s boyfriend. A journalist in Manhattan, Alec loves Mallory, but at the same time, finds his head turned by the temptations of living in New York’s fast lane. When Mallory starts coming out of her shell and finding temptations of her own, he’s not sure he can handle it.

Bette Noir – a beautiful burlesque dancer who has segued into mainstream stardom. She becomes Mallory’s mentor.

Poppy LaRue –  A pretty blonde, new to the burlesque scene and determined to make a name for herself. She competes with Mallory for Bette Noir’s attention, and for her place at Blue Angel.

Violet Offender – A dominatrix by day, burlesque performer by night – and overall trouble-maker.

Agnieszka “Agnes” Wieczorek -  a former Warsaw ballerina, Agnes is the owner of the Blue Angel burlesque club. She is a tough task-master, but acts like a den mother to all the girls.

 Billy Barton – Alec’s boss, a young, wealthy bon vivant and magazine owner.

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