Belle De Beauvoir - Burlesque Performer FF#20
BELLE DE BEAUVOIR
Hi Belle, thanks for having a chat to us here at Fèmmme Fraîche, we thoroughly enjoyed your burlesque performance at our last party back in December and wanted to have a quick catch-up and lowdown on the world of Belle De Beauvoir.
So firstly, what have you been up to since we last saw you, tell us about some of your performances?
Gosh! It’s been a real whirlwind this year - lots of shows all over London and the UK, including being selected to perform at London Burlesque Festival in June! One of my biggest highlights was a charity show for Rape Crisis I co-produced for The Crass Menagerie, a feminist neo-burlesque night. I performed an act about consent and the Irish rape trials, which was really close to my heart. Although I got a little teary-eyed, I was joined by my burlesque family at the end with 'My Body My Choice' demonstration signs; the response to that was truly incredible, that is why I do this.
Sounds very powerful indeed, and a wonderful way to portray a message through your art. OK so now let’s go back to the beginning, Belle De Beauvoir is your stage performance name, but how did the name come about?
It honestly took forever, maybe 50 pages of flowers, cocktails, gemstones, colours; nothing really felt right for me. I wanted a name that was glamorous and classic, but that also gave a nod to my feminist superheroes.
Belle came from multiple sources; I loved the name Belle De Jour from the classic Catherine DeNeuve film and the first girl I ever fell in love with was called Bella, so I’ve always had a weak spot for that name. Simone De Beauvoir, who wrote the Second Sex, is one of my favourite literary figures - A strong, intelligent and incredible woman, so it felt right to pay her homage. Also, I’m obsessed with Parisian vintage, so it all fit together!
A glamerous mish-mash indeed, so tell us how did you first get into the world of Burlesque and Cabaret?
When I was about 14 I was introduced to the world of drag by my stepmother. She used to work with a lot of people who were part of the Drag Scene in Birmingham and queens would come round to do my hair and teach me how to do makeup. I started going to Pride, sneaking into clubs and bars around that time and hanging out with the cabaret folk. I totally fell in love with the glamour and community of it all and it was around that time that I quietly realised I was bisexual, so it really felt like a safe space. After that, I worked as a freelance actress and theatre-maker for a while, doing bits and pieces of cabaret theatre and drag work, so when I saw a burlesque course with The Cheek of It, it felt like it combined all the things I love; the drag aesthetic, my dance training and my performance background. And then the rhinestones took over my life.
Sounds like a positively perfect Burlesque birth! Now Burlesque and Cabaret seem to have quite a wide-scope and most artists seem to be fairly multi-faceted, what are your array of skills and how would you best describe your performance style?
I trained in musical theatre on and off for 12 years; so I give dance lessons in a range of styles, singing lessons and acting. My nan taught me basic tailoring skills and my grandmother was an English teacher, so I sometimes do work with articles and essays; anything to keep me freelancing and out of an office! I think the most important skill would probably be more about attitude; I have a lot of very strong women in my family and working in the industry at such a young age certainly taught me a lot about positivity and supporting others, but also how to stand up for myself and my needs, to do everything a hundred percent and work as hard as I can.
My performance style really varies on the gig. For my classic work, to stand on a stage alone, covered in expensive, decadent costuming and declare that my body is more precious and exciting than any of that, is a political statement in itself. However, sometimes there’ll be a political issue (like consent, mental health, body positivity) that I feel needs to be addressed more directly, so I’ll make an act that introduces it to the audience in a thoughtful and empowering way. All of it is about womanhood, strength, intelligence and beauty, we are able to be all those things at the same time!
FAB, we're here for that! and of course, here at Femmme Fraiche we’re all about female empowerment and supporting female & female Identified artists, so who are your other fave female / FI performers on the scene we should check out?
SO many! I work backstage for the wonderful ladies of Gin House Burlesque (Betsy Rose, Jolie Papillon and Missy Fatale). For me, they will always be the queens of contemporary classic burlesque. In terms of neo-burlesque (more political less vintage) Glory Pearl does some incredible naked stand-up which is absolutely ingenious; Savage Rose, one of my burly big sisters who delivers fiery feminist brilliance; Lolo Brow, who’s wit and confidence is second to none and the amazing Sadie Sinner and the Cocoa Butter Club, who showcase performers of colour and slay the stage every time!
That's an amazing ray of talent there, we'll be sure to check them all out. And so lastly, where can we see Belle De Beauvoir performing in the up-coming months?
I’m everywhere darlings! I perform and co-produce a monthly show with The Crass Menagerie, feminist neo-burlesque on the last Monday of every month at the Matchstick Piehouse. Otherwise, It’s all on my Instagram @belledebeauvoir so check it out there!
So there you have it, a tiny taste of Belle De Beauvoir world, if you want to keep updated, make sure you follow her on her socials below