This glamazon can't wait to dance in the 'porn capital of Australia'
Advertisement

This glamazon can't wait to dance in the 'porn capital of Australia'

You'd better believe when I found out former World Queen of Burlesque Imogen Kelly was coming to Canberra, I went on a glitter and feather-buying frenzy at Spotlight and watched two whole seasons of Netflix's GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) as part of character research.

Imogen's advice to Canberra women: 'Don't overthink seduction, don't doubt your natural allure.'

Imogen's advice to Canberra women: 'Don't overthink seduction, don't doubt your natural allure.'

Photo: Leslie Liu

But if I thought burlesque was about sexiness, confidence and getting creative in the bedroom, I was way off. Here, Imogen - who's in the capital this weekend to perform and also teach a couple of strip tease intensive workshops - schools me on the reality of being a burlesque glamazon.

Bree: Are you expecting the Canberrans in your workshops this Sunday to be good burlesque students?

Imogen: Yes. Canberra is our capital city, but it is also the porn capital of Australia. I often wonder where this leaves women in Canberra feeling. I've always postulated that the burlesque revival is a response to the cheapening of women in the media, let alone the degradation that occurs in some porn.

In burlesque, we ask to be admired and to be in control for a change. In fact, I think every woman in Canberra should be doing burlesque as therapy for putting up with all of those stuffy male politicians.

Advertisement

Bree: Is there something a little bit sexy about the work behind burlesque performance, like character conception and costume construction?

Imogen: No. Sorry. Not even remotely. Character is a satirical composition using theatrical skills and knowledge. Making costumes is lonely and boring and involves a lot of glue. Performing is work. It's my job.

I thoroughly enjoy doing all of the above but not one single part of it is a turn on. Lots of fun, but just not hot.

Bree: Can burlesque add a bit of spice in the bedroom?

Serious about big costumes and even bigger props? Imogen will host a 'Going Big' performance workshop on Sunday.

Serious about big costumes and even bigger props? Imogen will host a 'Going Big' performance workshop on Sunday.

Photo: Supplied

Imogen: There are different elements to burlesque- some helpful, some not. Burlesque is a theatre genre. Burlesque to me is work. I'm a professional showgirl. I wouldn't take burlesque into the bedroom any more than an office worker would take in a laptop and expect a hot time. In fact, if I walked into our bedroom in one of my costumes (not that many of my costumes would fit in the bedroom) my husband would have a heart attack. He would also feel insulted.

I expect him to adore me the way I am, not some heightened version of me. He'd see through all of it in an instant. Besides, he's not exactly doing a pole dance in a thong and fetish heels, so neither do I. If he wants more, he can do more, too.

The elements of burlesque that are not useful in the bedroom are its association with glamour and uncomfortable clothing. It's very hard to have great sex when you are squeezed into a corset, all you can taste is lipstick, you are worried about getting mascara on the linen and can't stop thinking about how he is ruining the immaculate hairdo that took you two hours to create and smells like a perfumed glue factory. And don't get me started about the ills of getting glitter in the wrong places.

So these things are not your friends in the bedroom. Sex is best when it's wild, spontaneous and fun.

The raw striptease element is the useful part of burlesque in the bedroom. It's a natural turn-on. To me the relationship between voyeur and exhibitionist is almost primal. Some folks have so much trouble going there, though.

Burlesque helps women open up that secret, vulnerable box we keep inside and let go of the social mores that deprive them of their confidence. Sexual confidence is really important, and women are told constantly that it's a danger to enjoy their feminine wiles. Confidence of any kind makes someone attractive, it is always going to make you a better lover, inside and out. Burlesque is great for this.

I also think that in a world where lovers are discarded with the same ease as tossing a cigarette butt, that adorning yourself in beautiful lingerie and adopting the 1940s beauty aesthetic has a lot to do with asking to be adored, to be treasured and valued. Adoring ourselves by asking others to adore us, flaws and all, is a lot of what drives burlesque performance.

Imogen Kelly in Decadence and Debauchery, The Abbey Function Centre, Saturday September 15 at 8pm. Tickets from eventbrite.com.au. Workshops are on Sunday 16 September at Subsdance Dance Studio in Kingston. Tickets also from eventbrite.com.au