Subscribe to my full feed.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Interview with Burlesque Performer Diva Hollywood

Liverpool-based Diva Hollywood has been gracing international stages for approximately two and a half years. She describes herself as a ’slinky, modern, burlesque temptress’ and adds fuel to the rumor ‘that she is the love child of Mata Harri the exotic dancer and convicted spy and Harry Houdini.’ She talks openly about her disability, MS, although this has never stood between herself and her dense performing schedule.

I find this woman captivating and inspiring. I hope you all do too. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, Diva Hollywood!

You’ve some fabulous acts in your repertoire. Do you have a favorite inspiration source?
“I think my inspiration comes from old movies I did not go to school much when I was a kid but stayed home and watched old black and white films so I think a lot of my ideas and style come from them. Also I have done workshops with a theater group called Forkbeard Fantasy they have been going for about 30 years they have this great gift of mixing film and theater crossing from different realms in there shows. I love them as people and what they do and the fun and enthusiasm they have for life. I could really give you an essay on what inspires me.”

And likewise, your costumes are divine! Do you put a lot of work into them yourself?
“Oh yes I love making them, I do it all by hand (I have a fear of sewing machines that I am going to have to get over this year). I also have a large collection of things that I pick up in charity shows that I can adapt and that I know will come in hand one day. Again, most of what I wear is inspired by films and I have a huge collection of books on burlesque, fetish, pin ups, fashion, art and old movies that I take ideas from.”

Tell me about how your stage debut in New York came about?
“Thats a funny story. I kind of got into burlesque by accident. I new about it and loved the film Gypsy from a very young age, but did not know how I could get myself into it. As an artist I had always had performance elements in my work and Diva Hollywood has been around in my work for quiet a long time.

“I was asked by a friend-of-a-friend to be in a film for him as part of a performance piece. I played his girlfriend Lola, a circus performer who runs away from him to New York, becomes a burlesque performer and falls in Love with a rich man. I worked with the James Stevenson and became instant friends. We fell in love with the part and we developed it together.

“Shortly after, I was over in New York for three weeks on an artist residence with a digital dance company Troika Ranch. While I was there I decided to see what New York’s burlesque scene was like. Julie Atlas Muz and Dirty Martini were on the bill as was Tigger and Darlinda just Darlinda. I was hooked, so I went to the club owner and told him I was a burlesque performer form the UK and asked if I could perform at his club in a couple of weeks? He agreed. I managed to put together an act and costume while I was there in two weeks with the help of other NY performers emailing me good places to shop and practising my act in my hotel room.

“I had a ball! It was the night before I left New York so I new I could either run away or leave in a blaze of glory. So my first every performance was in the Slipper Room with 3 friends there and I loved it and even managed to tassel for the first time. I am so glad I did it as it give me faith that I could really do it and also a fab memory I will always have.”

Who’re your favorite contemporary burlesque performers?
“Julie Atlas Muz and Dirty Martini I have met them both and they are lovely people as well as great performers.”

…and do you have any favorite performers from burlesque’s hey-day?
“Gypsy, just because of the film and the book, and Lili St Cyr - that woman had legs that just went on forever.”

What’s the best burlesque advice you’ve ever been given? And do you have any of your own insider top-tips?
“I think the best advice I got was from Julie Atlas last year. I had been working with other people developing acts and had a few solo pieces but I was not happy with any of them. She told me to play to my strengths to make me different. I went off to Thailand for two months and thought about this and then about three months later it hit me; film and music was what made me different and my love of both. So I came up with the idea of using dialogue in my work, which I don’t know of anyone else doing. I am also lucky that my partner Angstom is a very talented musician and can mix digital tracks for me and also ends up being the male voices in my pieces.

“My tip for anyone is film your practicing and see what things look like from different angles as what can look good to you [when you practice in front of a mirror] can look terrible from the back. Also ask advice form someone who knows dance: It does no harm to take tips from people who know what they are doing.”

What’re your burlesque plans for 2008?
“I have a list of about 10 acts I want to do, I make notes on ideas as I travel around on trains. There is one I had about six months ago but it involves a puppet; I think its time I worked on it as it will take the most construction. Other than that my plans are to keep having burlesque adventures and meeting new and lovely people and to perform as that’s what I love to do.”
Interview by Beatrix Von Bourbon

No comments: