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Classic Influence. Contemporary Style.


Issue Nine





4 6 14 22 52 67

style inspired chaz royal wbg artists burlesque for a day domestic burlesque

e don't like to do things by halves, so for this special issue of Retro magazine we've completely immersed ourselves in the glitzy, glamorous, and gigglesome world of burlesque. And after getting ourselves warmed up at the World Burlesque Games teaser show in London we're delighted to introduce some new and established faces on the international burlesque scene. We also bring you an interview with the king of burlesque himself, Chaz Royal, a round up of some of the hottest burlesque-inspired fashions, and a preview of Elsa Quarsell's new book, The Domestic Burlesque. And finally, our coquettish cover girl this issue is the beautiful Stacey, our Burlesque for a Day photo shoot starlet. So sit back, stick some tassels on, and well see you at the World Burlesque Games! Danielle Colyer Deputy Editor
Bruce Hudson - Editor Danielle Colyer - Deputy Editor Graeme Coop - Designer Nadine Burzler - Photographer Keith Martin - Photographer For advertising enquiries contact


the big

Photographer: Nadine Burzler

What: World Burlesque Games teaser night Where: Scala, Kings Cross, London Who: Burlesquerati Style: Sparkles; feathers & leather; nipple tassels (optional)


So youve perfected your pin curls, lacquered your nails and ironed your gown, but you cant go to the ball without accessories! Well dont fear, Retros here, bringing you a gaggle of gorgeous glittering goods from dancing shoes to boudoir bling.
Dome Cage Skirt $250.00

Hand made from encased hoop steel boning and grosgrain ribbon, reinforced by rivets and stitching, the Dome Cage might look industrial strength, but dont worry it has an adjustable belt for comfor t. They can be worn under garments to add structure or on the outside as a statement piece. And if youre thinking of taking them away for the weekend, youll be glad to know they collapse flat for easy storage and transpor tation.

Giant Cherry Hairband


Go on, pop your cherry and pick up one of these delicious headpieces from Pearls and Swine. Limited edition, available in a choice of black or red, this fruity number will have you channelling your inner Carmen Miranda in no time. Just remember: cream not included.
photo: Vix Tuff Pix

Fred and Ginger Candy Girl Collection

This saucy Sorbet bra and thong is from the tasty Candy Girl Collection and we love it. Fun, frivolity and the fresh air on your bot bot delectable! Our only question is how can a girl be naughty when she looks this sweet?

from 65 - 200

Art Deco Sunset Dress


If you fancy shaking a few cocktails as the sun goes down then this saucy latex outfit should get you in the mood for a Screaming Orgasm. The elegant design evokes the silhouettes and shadows of a warm summer sunset, while the luscious latex will send shivers down your spine.


Vivienne Westwood for Melissa Lady Dragon VIII Wing Heeled Sandals 120
Fly me to the moon in these delicious rubber peep toes. Featuring a contrast wing design theyre perfect for wearing with a pencil skir t or super slim drainpipe jeans to vamp up a casual day look or to finish off a full-on diva outfit in the evening.

Love You


Even if romance isnt in the air youll be head over heels with the person who buys you these stunning black and white gingham check heels with kitsch plastic bows. And if thats not enough to have you swooning then at least the 10cm heel will mean youll be walking with your head in the clouds.

Crazy Lacy


If Prince was a shoe then this is how hed look. And for once were lost for words.

The Old Curiosity Shop Paris Moustache Ballet Shoes

Tatty Devine was listed as one of the top 50 coolest brands in the world and Retros cer tainly not arguing. Here they collaborate with shoemaker and designer Daita Kimura who owns The Old Curiosity Shop built in 1567 and the title of a Charles Dickens novel where Daita says the magical thing is that time goes slower. These wonderfully whimsical shoes also make us want to travel back to a slower time where gentlemen twirled their moustaches and ladies their feet.


Kobe Levi Design


Kobe Levis shoes are designed as works of wearable sculpture rather than conventional fashion footwear. The influence of his products is instantly recognisable; stretching from bananas to sex toys. In 2010 Kobes blog attracted world-wide acclaim, from fans including Lady Gaga, who went on to use his Double Boot in the music video for Born this Way. What one designer has achieved is no small, ahem, feat, and as were unable to choose just one pair from his collection, Retro has selected three of our favourites.

Classic Influence. Contemporary Style.

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With more than 500 burlesque and variety productions to his name, its not surprising Chaz Royal has been called the King of Burlesque. His signature event, London Burlesque Week renamed the World Burlesque Games this year acts as a centre stage for the world's finest burlesque performers and has quickly established itself as one of the most prestigious events in the burlesque calendar.

Retro met up with the international impresario, who curiously prefers to shun the spotlight, to discover if Chaz is burlesques messiah or just a very naughty boy.

photo:Nadine Burzler

How long have you been Chaz Royal for? Why did you choose the name? I had always taken an interest in beautiful women and at an early age realised I had a kinky side. I recall being attracted to late night TV goddess Elvira, and anytime I saw anything remotely of a fetish nature was drawn to it. At the age of 14 I started collecting images of naked women, including Bettie Page. I even recall collecting photos of Heather Sweet before she was known as Dita Von Teese. I distinctly recall a pictorial of her in Penthouse tied up with rope against a tree. That must have been in 1997. By the time I was 23 and living in Montreal I knew that I wanted to make a career change. After reading about a small burlesque resurgence building in places like T oronto, Vancouver, L.A., New Y ork, New Orleans (there were less than 10 North American cities that had regular burlesque shows by 2002) I soon realised that I wanted to recreate burlesque from the past. While I was in Montreal I was still running my small booking agency FTA Booking and working with extreme rock and punk bands so decided to create a division of the company strictly for burlesque. The name Chaz Royal hit me like a bolt of lightning. I had met someone named Chaz a year earlier while in New Jersey. I think at the time I had just watched the movie Boogie Nights and thought, Hey, I'll create an alter ego and book a burlesque tour. So Chaz was a name that was already stuck in my head

and I thought 'Royale' had a nice ring. For a few years and still in print, it's either Royal or Royale. Whats it like being a Royal? Do you have lots of servants? I had always joked when I was really young I would grow up to be rich, famous and have maids because I hated my mother's nagging. But no, I've been a one-man team for the past decade with the exception of a few staff members, volunteers and the help of my girlfriend. Have you always been the man behind the curtain or does Chaz Royal have an act? In 2003 I had performed two double acts in New Y ork City. I was a crazy chef chasing around a sexy turkey and a Victorian gent performing lewd acts behind a parasol with a mistress. On tour for three weeks in summer 2005 I was the gorilla stagehand and male prop in the Jungle Exotica Show. I generally don't enjoy being on stage or speaking in public I prefer being 'behind the curtain'. If we could transport you in time to watch one burlesque act who would you choose and why? I probably would have liked to been on set when Hollywood was releasing a lot of burlesque movies some of the giant stage chorus sets and costumes were unreal. Lili St. Cyr would have been a great act to see as she had props and small sets when she performed live.

photo:Nadine Burzler

What was the original inspiration for the burlesque week? I had already produced two festivals in Canada called Burlesque Goes North before I created London Burlesque Festival. The first was in T oronto May 2004 and the second in Vancouver December 2006. The festivals were only a few days in small venues but with great international acts. The idea was to showcase good performers from the USA and bring them up for the shows. I had also done some really extensive touring again from 2003-2006 in countries including the UK, Switzerland and Germany. After I produced the second BGN in Vancouver I felt there just wasn't enough support and realised the only way I could produce a successful event was to go bigger and take it to London, where the scene was just starting to ripen. Y ouve retitled London Burlesque Week as the World Burlesque Games this year. Has burlesque taken over the world? In many ways yes! Burlesque is like a spider web. It continues to grow in almost every country, and if not in shows at least awareness through the media, social networking and Y T ou ube. Like the spider web it has a lot of dips but always has peaks, dies down and then comes back up again.

terms of being involved. I regard my festival as the best in the world and have high standards. Burlesque impresarios from past decades had, shall we say, colourful reputations. Are there any youve taken inspiration from? No not so much, I do like to read some of the old books, or imagine a time when touring and performing long runs existed pretelevision. I'm quite intrigued about entertainment in the late 1800s when vaudeville and burlesque theatres were in every city. I read Members Only, the biography on Paul Raymond and was inspired by his early days touring the UK with novelty and moderate burlesque. The Minsky Brothers in the US eventually had a chain of theatres which would have been nice. But I have carved my own path in this new-found industry!

The Burlesque Week/Games are in their sixth year, how have they evolved? The festival in 2007 ran from Wednesday to Saturday, five shows in four nights and drew an estimated 1,200 spectators. Every year the event has grown in the number of shows, days and people, now running a full seven days with nine events for 2012. Every year I like to show growth and change. That is my main objective, but still in a grassroots way. The festival was rebranded in 2010 and 2011 to London Y ouve had to cut the acts down significantly Burlesque Week and now we have the World (from 400 to 100) this year. Does that make Burlesque Games running hopefully every you the Simon Cowell of burlesque? two years. For 2013 we intend to bring back I suppose so I make more enemies every London Burlesque Week and run all new year than I do supporters! I always have to say theme shows. I hope that for the 10th annual no to people and when I give them a yes, I still event we might be able to run a full 10 days have to put my foot down and enforce the but only time will tell.

photo: Keith Martin @

Whats the best act youve seen? Have there been any disasters? I can't say, I've worked with more than 1,000 performers and produced well over 500 burlesque and variety events. I've seen great, good, questionable, bad and horrible acts. I'm attracted to acts that are of a variety nature with opulent costuming but light on props. I don't like acts that need some oversized prop to get the wow factor. I've seen a lot of dancers trip and fall, or have costume malfunctions, wigs or tassels fall offsometimes the audience is forgiving, other times not it all depends on how the performer handles the recovery.

Is there an act youre really looking forward to seeing this year? Not one particular act but the T riple Crown Challenge will showcase more of the variety and gimmick-heavy acts of the week and looks to be exciting! The Twisted Crown and International Females will also be a highlight. I imagine there is quite a party element to the Burlesque Games. How do you survive the week? A week is nothing, I use to tour for three months at a time. But for the average World Burlesque Games goer, just go wild and give it all youve got!

photo: Keith Martin @

How do you relax when youre not thinking about burlesque? I collect records, watch a lot of movies and smoke copious amounts of herbal remedies. And finally, if somebody is reading this who hasnt been to a burlesque night, why should they come along? Well, first of all, I try to offer something that no one else is doing by bringing in the world's best burlesque and variety acts, but also the atmosphere at my shows is electric, with a high amount of buzz and wow factor. It's a great place to dress up and meet other burlesque enthusiasts. I do everything I can to choose great venues and provide an unbeatable night out!

The World Burlesque Games are held from May 7-13 for tickets and info visit

games begin
The good, the mad and the down right bizarre will converge in London in May for the most flamboyant event on the social calendar, the World Burlesque Games. With 100 acts performing live on stage, this event is a smorgasbord of the best of burlesque. Attendees will feast their eyes on acts competing to be crowned in eight prestigious categories which include Best World Male and Female, Best World Newbie and the one Retro is looking forward to most, the Twisted Crown, where the boundaries of burlesque are pushed to the limit and the crown will go to the biggest freak of all. So tighten your bra and jock straps, put on you brightest lippie and join us in the front row as Retro meets some of the more flamboyant artists competing at the show.

Let the

photo:Nadine Burzler

VIP Opening Ceremonies


Betty is the World Burlesque Games 2012 Assistant Event Coordinator, Co-Producer of the Hootchy Kootchy Roadshow and a resident member of the Headline Honeys Burlesque Show. Classically trained in theatre and dance, she performs a range of themed acts ranging from fetish to fan dance, many of which are performed in a classical style en pointe. Funny, sexy, silly and seductive Betty weaves dance and clowning together like nobody else. Her look oozes sensuality with glittering performance skills, knock out bombshell moves, and a dash of bump n grind combined with effortless seduction and exuberant stage presence. Betty DLight encapsulates everything that is wonderful about burlesque.

How would you describe your signature style? My day wear is a mix of pin-up and rockabilly style and I'm a huge fan of head scarves, hair flowers and leopard print. My day look tends to be fairly casual with jeans, Converse trainers and a little cardigan, but I absolutely love to glam it up in the evenings! I love sexy pencil skir ts and dresses and will absolutely always wear a heel in the evening the higher the better! My performance style tends to be a bit more eclectic: my costumes range from fetish to Hollywood glamour and everything in between! I love the theatrical side of performing and being able to completely transform yourself into pretty much anything or anyone you like. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? For as long as I can remember, my passion has been performance. As a child I was always putting on shows and forcing people to watch I even did little performances for the ladies who

came to my mums hairdressing salon. I knew they were stuck there for an hour or so, so they were forced to sit and watch me, but I like to think I offered them a little enter tainment with their haircut as a bonus! For a long time I wanted to be an actress, but during my late teens I got more into dance. I love burlesque because I get to fulfill my passion for performance and at the same time retain creative control over my acts: Most dancers need to stick to other peoples choreography and costumes, but I can create any act and costume I like! Its a great creative outlet. Y oure a trained dancer, what kinds of tunes will get you up onto the dance floor? I can dance to just about anything! I love vintage styles of music from to 20s to 50s things like big band, swing, jazz, soul and rock 'n' roll but I also really like bopping around to more modern stuff like Rihanna and Jessie J. Any excuse for a boogie!

One of the stage hands

Cutting with a huge pair of scissors

seemed to love it

saved me by

my corset laces

Thankfully the audience

photo: Wicked Heart Photography

Have you ever had a wardrobe malfunction during a performance? Y The busk in my corset once broke while I es! was on stage, essentially trapping me in the corset there was no way I could get it off and I spent at least a minute struggling to get free in the most ladylike way I could manage! Eventually one of the stage hands appeared on stage and saved me by cutting my corset laces with a huge pair of scissors. Thankfully the audience seemed to love it! Whats been the best show youve ever performed at? I know I'm slightly biased since I work for them now, but I have to say that performing at the London Burlesque Festival in both 2010 and 2011 were two of the best shows of my career. Its such an honour being selected to perform at the largest worldwide burlesque event alongside some of the greatest performers in the world the atmosphere at every show is electric! Are you nervous about performing at the VIP opening? I am nervous actually. Despite the fact that this will be my third time performing, it will be my first as a special guest. The opening ceremony is such a prestigious event to be a par t of; it sets the tone for the rest of the week. Its a lot of pressure! Y recently posted a photo on Facebook in ou which youve got normal Betty hair do you mean to tell us you dont wear corsets around the house?! LOL, I wish! I don't think anyone wears a corset

all day, every day, except perhaps the few girls who are corset training. Wearing corsets and costumes is lovely but I wouldn't get much done if I wore them all the time! I try to keep a bit of glamour in my everyday life by always having my nails done and my hair styled nicely I usually have a flower or something sparkly in my hair. I like to look in the mirror and see something colourful or shiny; it never fails to brighten my day! What is your staple burlesque prop? Body make-up! I like my skin to appear absolutely flawless on stage so I religiously apply make-up, powder and body glitter to my entire body before each performance. Going out on stage with no make-up would make me feel even more naked than being in just a G-string and tassels! As the WBG 2012 Assistant Event Coordinator, tell us a little bit of insider gossip?! There are lots of exciting things happening here at the moment, including negotiations with various broadcasting companies for a TV show based around the WBG 2012, talks with an alcohol company to become one of the WBGs premium sponsors, and the possibility of a London Burlesque Festival production going to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the summer! Chaz and I are also launching another festival in November which is exclusively for newcomers. Things are never dull at WBG HQ!

photo: Tigz Rice Studios

Frankii, youre from the chilly heights of the North East how does a girl become a burlesque performer in such a cold climate?! Y cheeky devils, we have central heating you ou know! I dont think the climate has much to do with how a girl becomes a burlesque performer Ive never been asked to perform outside in the coldyet. Y seem to have a classic burlesque style ou who and what has inspired your look? The classical era of burlesque is my personal favourite. My look is a mixture of so many blonde bombshells. Gwen Stefani caught my attention from a young age, which led to me discovering who she was inspired by. Y cant ou help but be inspired by Marilyn Monroe, Jayne


British Female Crown

Frankii Wilde is an archetypal burlesque beauty: champagne-haired, ivory-skinned and in possession of a smile that seems to have been stolen from Hollywood. Frankiis blonde bombshell looks have earned her comparisons with Marilyn Monroe, and her seductive allure aligns her with stars such as Veronica Lake. Retro gets ready for a Wilde ride.

Mansfield and Ive been called the Jayne Mansfield of burlesque Veronica Lake and even Brigitte Bardot. What one thing could you not live without? My eyebrow pencil. Im very par ticular about my eyebrows. If you could live in any decade in history when would you choose? I would want to experience the 40s & 50s because the fashion evolved so much between those periods. It would be great to walk down the street without getting funny looks for wearing red lipstick, or having your pin curls in a headscarf while youre setting your hair for a show.

photo: flashes & lashes

Would you describe your act as seductive or slapstick? Im neither. Im a cheesecake pin-up poesy pants! What has been your most nerve-racking performance so far? I would have thought it would have been in front of the biggest audience, for myself and possibly all the other girls I was performing with, at the Headline Honeys show for Teesside University Freshers Week. More than 600 people but I found that exhilarating more than anything. I guess THE most nerveracking was the two years running I performed for Rebellion Festival which is a punk and alternative festival in Blackpool. Tell us about the show you produce, The Headline Honeys Burlesque Show. The Headline Honeys are a bevy of Nor thern beauties including myself; singing sensation Lola Rainbows; classically trained, highland hottie, Betty D'Light and our new addition to the troupe, Ebony Silk along with her signature shimmy shake that will knock your socks off! As well as the performers we have pin-up model Little Gem as our compere, and another well-known model, and former performer, Miss Zara Ann as our DJ.

Y oure an experienced performer with lots of friends on the burlesque scene at what point did you realise youd made it? I do have a lot of friends on the burlesque scene which I feel very for tunate for however I dont think Ive made it at all yet. I feel I have so much more to do. I guess Im a workaholic! Y carry yourself with the poise of Marilyn ou Monroe and Audrey Hepburn, but we suspect Frankiis wild at heart. Can you share a secret about the girl behind the balloons? I would never reveal my secrets. Its always more interesting that way. What advice would you give to guys and gals who dream of becoming burlesque performers? Do your research, you need to be aware of who came before you and know who the legends are. There are so many performers out there now. Its impor tant to try and have something about you, to set you apar t from the rest. Get creative!

De Milo
Duke, how did you get into burlesque performing? Gretchen Tice and I loved seeing burlesque shows but there wasnt a scene in Sunderland, so we decided to star t one. I was originally meant to be behind the scenes, managing but when our compere dropped us in it, on opening night, I had to step up and host the night myself. I never thought I would be able to speak in front of a crowd, but I had no choice and no time to worry about it. Luckily the punters enjoyed it as much as I did and now you cant keep me off a stage. How is your act different to other male performers shows out there? Well I like to add a bit of drag into my boylesque mix I have so many ideas for


British & World Male Crown

Duke DeMilo is a cheeky compere, camp boylesquer and co-founder of the Coquette Collective, Sunderlands premier burlesque troupe. His biography reads like a Dickens novel featuring Liza Minnelli: after being born with a silver spoon in his gob, Duke squandered the family money on things that sparkled or had muscles. Now destitute, he travels the country entertaining the working classes to earn a living. Retro settles down for a chinwag with the inventor of SuBolesque.

acts and costumes they cant be constrained by just one gender. Tell us three things we can expect to see in your act? Ingenuity, as I love coming up with clever new ideas and concepts. Comedy, because I dont take myself seriously and love hearing the audience rolling with laughter when I play the fool. And last but by no means least, my sheer raw sex appeal. I cannot deny it my hips dont lie and neither does my cheeky bum. Y recently celebrated your 30th ou birthday congratulations! How does a burlesque performer celebrate such a milestone? Shhhh I dont want to have to star t paying full fare on the trains, Im under 26

last year, maybe

SuBos nipple tassels

I shimmied


fat suit and don the

Ill slip into the

photo:Nadine Burzler

really! I did celebrate in style though: I went to Paris with the lovely Ebony Silk for a day of grown-up style and culture. We went round the galleries, did lots of shopping and went for a dinner cruise down the river Seine past the Eiffel T ower. We finished the night with a visit to the legendary Crazy Horse burlesque show, which was of course amazing! The following day we reminded ourselves of the impor tance of being big kids and went to Disneyland Paris for a sugar rush day of fast rides and giggles. Which era has influenced your style the most? I love the 1920s the ar t deco design, underground speakeasies, flapper girls and cabaret emcees from that era its a totally different world from where I grew up in Sunderland. I would watch old movies from that time and think it was the most glamorous period in history. Tell us how it feels to channel Susan Boyle for performances! Its all about the face once the unibrow is painted on, she just takes over. I really enjoy por traying her she is such a cheeky, playful character, and I love peoples reactions when they first lay eyes on her. Will you be dusting off the fat suit for WBG 2012? Fat suit? Thats all me baby! Hmmm, I am unveiling a new act at this years festival I shimmied SuBos nipple tassels last year. But if I win the British boylesque crown and get to perform at the VIP closing ceremonies, perhaps Ill slip into the fat suit and don the unibrow again.

Duke DeMilo Facebook Page

photo:Nadine Burzler

photo: Bartek Szadura


Anna the

Triple Crown

Anna the Hulagan is notorious for making audiences hot under the collar with her feisty, fiery hula hoop performances. After teaching herself to hoop six years ago, Anna is blazing an impressive trail around the world: shes a regular face on Ibizas club circuit and even performed for tsunami victims in Sri Lanka. Hailed as 'London's cult hula hooping artiste', Anna unites hypnotic hoops, sultry striptease and fearless flamework all in one act. Retro gets a fire extinguisher on standby and sits down with the princess of pyro herself.

How did you come up with the idea of a fire hula hoop act? It's a no-brainer really! I love hooping, and I love fire, it just made sense to put them together! Before I had even picked up a hoop I had had several visions of doing a fire hoop strip show, but when I finally picked up a hoop, I was useless! It was a sad day when I thought my dreams were not to be realised, but with a bit of perseverance and a strong vision I managed to hoop. Adding the fire was just the natural progression. As a performer you always need to find how you can bring the drama and spectacle to your act, and fire hooping has that in spades!

Y ouve been involved in some high-profile performances, which one has been the most fun? The Got to Dance television audition was brilliant wannabe dancers, Kimberly from the Pussycat Dolls, bright lights, a big audience and a massive stage all for me that was fun. Probably would have been even more fun if I had added fire to the equation! Hooping for the Earl of Pembroke's wedding was also a blast, there was a Big T circus on the op grounds of his estate, the eccentric aristocracy was out in force, plus there was an open bar serving up delicious cocktails!

photo: Bartek Szadura

Who or what has been the biggest influence on your performance? Its gotta be the music without it I don't know if I would feel inspired to hoop at all. And, when it comes to performing, choosing the right music is essential; it helps me to tell a story and helps me choreograph my movements. How would you describe your costume style? I'm experimenting with something new with this act Im going for a more classic burlesque style, with a Hulagan twist! And something that can be removed with ease! Y teach hula hooping as well whats the ou secret to keeping the hoop up? Do these five things and you should have no problems: Put one foot in front of the other; tell yourself you're not gonna let it fall; find a steady rhythm; wear as few clothes as possible but most impor tantly...get a little sexy with it! We have to ask have you ever burnt yourself while performing? Never! Well...apar t from that time I set my hair on fire! Hairspray is a big no no!

Twisted Crown

The Monsters of

Weve had people leave, throw up, even faint. The one thing you can always expect though is to

LAUGH at some point

Smart suits, smart guys, and smart asses welcome to the bizarre world of Monsters of Schlock. With performances that are heavy on violence, high on absurdism, and doused in slapstick humour, this Canadian duo are an unstoppable train of comedic chaos. We stock up on moustache wax, recalibrate our morals, and settle down for some schlock and roll.

So first up, are you really brothers? Pepper: Y we get asked that a lot, but es, c'mon, who else besides brothers could travel the world together, hur ting each other day after day and not end up wanting to kill one another for reals. Orbax: Its a prime example of nature versus nur ture. We grew up in separate homes and when we were reunited realised that wed both been doing similar things to our bodies. Some people are just born weird. Pepper: And look at us, two guys this ugly...we gotta be.

Have you ever experienced hecklers at one of your shows? Pepper: Y and we are both quick with es the mic, so it never ends well for the heckler, and it doesn't happen often I assume because we look like the kind of guys that will kill you. Orbax: The one thing I notice about British hecklers more so than Nor th American ones is that occasionally a British heckler will actually add something to the show. They give you a lot more to play off.

Y our performances are a mix of What can people expect when they absurdism, violence, comedy and so come to one of your shows? much more who and what has Orbax: They can expect the unexpected! influenced your act? Pretty mysterious, eh? Pepper: Well we both grew up on the Jim Pepper: They can expect to see the single Rose Circus so that was a big one but a greatest, funniest and most enter taining lot of it comes from old comedy: The show they will ever see in their lives. Three Stooges is a big one; Abbott and Orbax: Weve had people leave, throw up, Costello; the Smothers Brothers; the Rat even faint. The one thing you can always Pack; T ommy Cooper; throw in some proexpect though is to laugh at some point. wrestling and a little Dadaistic ar t Even if its just a laugh of relief that the movement and you get the Monsters awful things you saw didnt happen to you! of Schlock.


Tell us a secret about the other! Pepper: Orbax while not on stage has lovely long flowing hair, and he has a giant penis! Orbax: Wow, that penis secret is so well kept that I didnt even know it! What has been your most memorable performances to date? Orbax: There have been so many, both good and bad, but at least they were memorable. Why dont we narrow it down to British shows? Definitely the Black Sheep bar in Croydon and Madame JoJos in London were pretty great nights. Pepper: Croydon was one of those gigs we went into completely blind, people were all "uh oh...Croydon, look out, be careful" and it ended up being super fun and full of the nicest people! Orbax: The kids there were awesome! Fun, loud and actually were able to follow the comedy even though I suspect several of them might have been drinking this thing you guys have over here called alcohol am I saying that right? Pepper: And now we try to end every England run there. Its a hell of a send off! The Madame JoJos gig was par t of London Burlesque Week: so many people, loud and insane, and that night really introduced and welcomed us to the burlesque and cabaret community in England. We were very proud to be a par t of it. How does the British burlesque scene compare with the Canadian scene? Pepper: Well, lets just say that they are very different. The British scene is the real deal,

gorgeous women in gorgeous costumes and the best par t is they are nice people! In Canada every girl thinks shes a burlesque dancer but believe me they aren't, not saying that there aren't talented women dancing in Canada but there is more bad burlesque than good. That said one of the best in the world is a Canadian girl! Demonica de Mor te, we love her!! Orbax: I think the hard par t about any enter tainment in Canada is that it gets spread out over such a huge country that you dont really get a scene to weed out the good from the bad. In all honesty Im just amazed that the dancers here can put up with our constant bullshit backstage and dont try to kill us. Who would play you in the movie about your lives? Pepper: I think Hollywood would go with Pitt and Clooney for sure. Orbax: Agreed. But if we could choose I think it would decidedly be Jimmy Durante, Henny Y oungman, Don Knotts and Jim J. Bullock playing various points in our lives those guys are still working right? Theres a lot of comedy in your shows, tell us a joke. Orbax: I heard this one the other day, and its somewhat topical. So I heard Stephen Hawking made it to 70 the other day. Fuck thats one fast wheelchair.


Bonnie Fox, or Sharon Davis as shes known to her friends and the swing dance community, is an Australian-born dancer and performer now living in London. With a wealth of classic influences spanning genres and eras galore, Bonnie is set to take the UK scene by storm, one sparkle at a time. Retro cracks open a tinnie with the fabulous Ms Fox.

How did you get introduced to the burlesque scene in Australia? In 2006 I was at a dance festival in Sweden, and saw a burlesque performance for the first time. I adored it the costumes, the playfulness, the retro vibe but I'm a dancer, and even though the girls were beautiful, they weren't really moving their bodies. I was hooked but I wanted to do something different with it. That year I was travelling around the world and took in burlesque shows and festivals everywhere I could. I researched, read and collected vintage burlesque films. And when I got home to Australia, I was excited to find out how I could get involved in burlesque there, and discovered none whatsoever. So A'dora Derriere and I star ted our own company Sugar Blue Burlesque in Per th, Western Australia. We star ted with just three girls, all of us swing dancers, and over the next few years the company blossomed into a major enterprise, with a burlesque academy, large-scale shows, our own nightclub and a fulltime staff. In 2008 I left Australia and hit the road, when I star ted working internationally as a professional swing dancer. Since then I have been performing burlesque more often at jazz and dance festivals than burlesque clubs, but

this year I am settling down in London and I hope to get more involved with the burlesque community again. What can we expect from a Bonnie Fox performance? Dancing! I'm on a mission to put dancing back into burlesque. I'm a professional dancer and I specialise in vintage dances from the 1920s to 1940s, including Charleston, Lindy Hop and Blues. My burlesque performances always have some element of dancing. Also there'll be sparkles. Lots of sparkles. Y our martini glass act is a hit online, will you be including it at the WBG 2012? Y it's true I have performed in a giant es, mar tini glass, but I don't think I'm renowned for that one, or that it's any kind of hit online, as far as I'm aware. I'd give more credit to A'dora Derriere on that one. The glass belongs to Sugar Blue Burlesque, not to me personally. I just had the honour to splash around in it a few times! What has most influenced your act? The 1920s and 30s are my favourite eras, though I work a lot with 1940s and 50s styles

World Female Crown


photo: Allison Michael Orenstein

An ostrich sacrificed
his feathers

The least we

for us!

could do is make

BEAUTIFUL art with them

as well. My idols are women like Josephine Baker, Eleanor Powell, Sally Rand, Ginger Rogers, Joan Crawford, Rita Haywor th, Jewel McGowan, Jean Veloz, Sandra Gibson, Marilyn Monroe, Gypsy Rose Lee, Cyd Charisse and Vera Ellen. I adore fashion designers from the period like Poiret, Vionnet and Schiaparelli. I draw inspiration from films, photographs, illustrations and ar tworks from the jazz age. What is your favourite performance accessory? Feathers! Ostrich feather fans are definitely my prop of choice. They're so popular in burlesque, but so few burly-girls really dance with their fans. When I see girls crudely flapping their fans around, it breaks my hear t a little. An ostrich sacrificed his feathers for us! The least we could do is make beautiful ar t with them. Are there any hints to your Antipodean heritage in your act? Corks hanging from your top hat for instance? Oh my, I've never seen an Aussie-themed burlesque act! I'll have to think about that one. I think my angle for the WBG performance is just to do my best to show the London audiences how good Australian burlesque can be! Since it's my first performance in London, I thought I would do one of my classic acts, instead of a novelty number, to show the London audiences what I'm really all about. It will be a bluesy dance piece with my feather fans, and plenty of sparkle.

Seeing as youre a swing dance champion we bet that you look good on the dancefloor what will we see you dancing to? I love hot jazz and blues with a New Orleans sound, big band swing with a 1930s vibe, and small combos from the 1940s. I DJ for dancers around the world, so I have a huge collection. I listen to a lot of vintage jazz, and some of my favourite ar tists are Duke Ellington, Django Reinhardt, Fats Waller, Chick Webb, Jimmie Lunceford, Wingy Manone, Fletcher Henderson, Willie Bryant, Louis Armstrong, Roy Eldridge, Sidney Bechet and so on. I'm also really keen to suppor t the musicians making a living from playing the music I love. Some of my favourite jazz bands playing around the world today are Jonathan Stout & His Campus Five, The Boilermaker Jazz Band, Meschiya Lake & The Little Big Horns, Gordon Webster, Cassidy & The Orleans Kids, Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks, Ondrej Havelka & His Melody Makers, The Bratislava Hot Serenaders, The Chicago Stompers, Gentlemen & Gangsters, The Rhythm Junkies, Home Jazz Five, The Palmetto Bug Stompers, Smoking Time Jazz Club, The Cangelosi Cards, T uba Skinny, Baby Soda...I could go on all day! I have a website called where I promote jazz musicians and dancers, and you can buy their CDs and DVDs.


de Lune

British Newcomer Crown

Peggy de Lune is a burlesque chameleon, mixing Betty Grable-inspired glamour with contemporary comedy. Her act ranges from rib tickling neo-burlesque to classic American burlesque, and all during a Buddhist ballet-influenced striptease. Retro upgrades to a first-class ticket direct to Lunesville for a chat.

Peggy, tell us whats in that suitcase?! Well it depends on the day, sometimes you'll find my little costume designer, Rose Noir, stashed in there, furiously sewing bits and bedazzling away. She's small so it's easy to travel with her, especially for out-of town gigs. Otherwise the usual burlesque airhostess things: oxygen mask, life vest, ripped stockings, mini-bar alcohol bottles, that sor t of thing. Y oure a newcomer on the scene, when did you decide to become a performer? I've been performing since I was little and told my mum at the age of nine "I don't want to play soccer, I just want to dance! so even then you could see there was a drag queen desperate to get out. Then when I was at drama school in London a friend took me to see a burlesque show and I absolutely loved it. After graduating I was battling with unemployment and star ted taking classes

to express ideas, and I got hooked! Who would you love to perform for? Bill Clinton, because he would totally be into it. The Dalai Lama because I would be interested to see what he thinks. I'd also like to get an audience together of the most conservative Republicans in the US, because I bet despite their best effor ts, they would actually quite enjoy it! What can we expect to see in your performances? I think you're always going to see a lot of energy! All my acts, even my classic striptease, are high-energy acts and I tend to get a bit carried away when I get on stage. There will always be some level of goofiness and you'll probably never see me do something completely serious. Even when I'm really trying to be serious, I will end up doing something silly.

photo: Jessy Boon Cowler @The Pin Up Studio

photo: Jessy Boon Cowler @The Pin Up Studio

Y cite Betty Grable as an influence, who ou or what else has inspired you? I grew up watching Saturday Night Live, especially reruns from the 70s, so Gilda Radner has always been one of my comedy idols, as well as Carol Burnett. I also love the current group of American comediennes that came from SNL, like Tina Fey and Kristen Wiig. I take a lot of inspiration from the Golden Age of Hollywood and the old MGM musicals for costume and act ideas because I love perver ting those old wholesome musical numbers. As far as current performers, I really admire Julie Atlas Muz and Fancy Chance for their versatility and humour. Tell us a little bit about Peggy de Lune in five words. Hyper-active fun burlesque Buddhist bombshell (I've decided the hyphen makes it one word).

BurleDsque FOR A AY

Marilyn Monroe once said Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world so this issue we decided to take it one step further and transform an everyday girl into a burlesque belle. Equipped with a gorgeous girl about town, a pair of diamante heels, and enough feathers to make Keith Harris cry, Retro prepares to enter a world of glitz, glamour and glitterballs in toilets.

ashionably late is how Id describe myself rushing to the coffee shop where Im meeting Stacey, the model for todays shoot. Im panting and red when I arrive, but Im greeted with calm smiles and a skinny latte while Stacey finishes texting her housemate who stayed out late last. Its not every day the model gets the coffees in but today theres nothing diva about our model: shes a 28-year-old Social Media Manager from London. And in the short cab ride to the shoot location Stacey chats happily about the sunshine, remarks how cheerful our taxi driver is, and makes approving sounds as we whizz past the sparkling ocean. This is just the best day, she confides. As we arrive at the Regency Hotel we are greeted by Miss Honey Moon, one of todays tutors in titillation. Its not even midday, but Honey is immaculately made-up, wearing a vampish red dress and heels Ive already mentally fallen over in. Carrying herself with the poise of a certain Ms Monroe and bearing a striking resemblance to the blonde bombshell Honey welcomes Stacey with kisses and hugs. Immediately were introduced to photographer Nadine and stylists Sharon and Gloria and within seconds the hotel foyer is full of the scent of hot fresh coffee and perfume, and a cacophony of female voices. I cant help but feel that Dita Von Teese would approve. After coffee has been sipped we gather to admire Honeys corsets and burlesque props. I love this one, squeals Stacey, spotting a turquoise and gold peacock-pattern over-bust corset. But before she has a chance to try anything on our model is ushered outside for a couple of pre-styling shots, before being directed back indoors to the stylists chair. Here, Sharon and Gloria cast their expert eyes over skin, hair and colouring, scolding Stacey for wearing a dab of foundation to the shoot.

Defending, Stacey says I tried to go without it but I couldnt face sitting on the train without wearing makeup! Gloria kicks things off with the application of dozens of heated hair rollers. Hair is teased and back-combed, pinned and set a laborious process which seems effortless as the ladies chat about hairspray, makeup and all things glamorous. A ring on the doorbell confirms the arrival of our second shoot instructor, Billie Rae, who looks immaculate in a green day dress, some slightly practical-looking heels, with auburn hair loosely curled. And as our troupe grows the war stories begin; tales of waist training, sweaty eyelids. The trick is to give them a pinch in the middle for good luck before going onstage, I overhear, and it turns out Billie is discussing false lashes. I enquire how our model is doing in between applications of primers, potions and powders and a thumb is raised skyward, so as not to disturb an artist at work. Billie is pondering whether it was a good idea to drink red wine into the small hours the night before the shoot, and I jokingly suggest a lunchtime snifter. I think I could do with a hair of the dog, says Stacey, who then quickly adds well, just a hair for my nerves!

Fortunately our girls in good hands: Honey and Billie have more than 13 years of performance experience between them and exude style, grace and gregarious laugher. It doesnt escape my notice that Honey has hung a rotating glitterball in the bathroom. A minor detail, but one that makes us smile, and one that highlights the careful attention to detail that underpins much of burlesque scene. Back in the dressing room Honey Moon is helping Stacey into the admired peacock corset, causing her to gasp and cling on for support as Honey expertly tightens the laces. Y oure going to need a burlesque name now, comments stylist Sharon, and the room goes silent while we think. Stacey Sizzle seems to be the most popular choice: not too provocative, and befitting this unseasonably warm day. Once the formalities are dispensed with, photographer Nadine starts furiously snapping, and within seconds Stacey is posing on a leather couch, arranging her limbs coquettishly under Billie Raes playful tutelage. Looking more than a little terrified to start with, our model soon relaxes after Nadine innocently asks for the money shot and the room erupts into laughter. That could mean something very different on this shoot, Billie has to explain. Composure regained, furniture is rearranged, and the shoot continues with the poses becoming increasingly complicated. Honeys baby blue ostrich

feather fans are produced, and Stacey seems to be getting in to her element as Billie suggests dozens of ways to hold and fan them. Make a kind of tail with them, is her advice, and it works, our girl looks every bit the saucy starlet. A quick outfit change later and all initial nerves have vanished as a now nauticallydressed Stacey poses at the entrance to the hotel, blowing kisses and laughing gaily as she tosses her sailor hat in to the air. The stars pose together, and Billie continues to guide Stacey through the movements of a star, completely relaxed and composed. Our entourage of stylists and starlets attracts some attention from passers-by, but Stacey Sizzle isnt phased; she just laughs and waves as a group of young men shout encouragement (Take it off) from their car. Every now and again Sharon will leap into action with a comb and tease invisible strands of hair back in to place, and Billie continues to instruct: how to hold arms, how to angle calf muscles, how to stick boobs and bum out simultaneously. And as the last of the afternoon sun starts to disappear, we call a wrap and applaud our gorgeous everyday gal, who by now has completely metamorphosed into a burlesque butterfly. A butterfly, wearing a smile the size of a London, which is where shes heading back to now the sun is starting to set. Its been a long day in makeup, being ordered around and dressed by people shes just met, but Stacey has taken it all in her stride and has shone in the limelight. But then as Gypsy Rose Lee said, If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing slowly. . .very slowly.


And what did Stacey Sizzle think of her transformation? "Being a burlesque star for the day was honestly one of the most fun things I've ever done. I wouldn't say I'm an exhibitionist in real life but I was amazed by how my inner Dita emerged as soon as the hair and make up were on. I can't believe how much effort goes into a look like this, and it was great to be treated to a proper vintage hairstyle by somebody who really knew the original techniques that were used back in the day when people used to actually 'do' their hair. The ladies who do burlesque professionally are amazing the poses and postures are so much harder than they make them look, and God knows how they don't faint wearing those corsets I could hardly breathe! I can totally see why somebody would want to make this their career though, feeling that sexy is kind of addictive!"

Burlesque Instructors: Honey Moon &Billie Rae Bigsby Styled by Vintage Hair Lounge

Red Orchid shoes by Irregular Choice Maroon slingback shoes, model's own White Ruffle shorts from She Said Peacock corset: Honey Moon's own Jewellery: model's own Striped Brigitte top, Corporal Cora skirt and Captain hat from Collectif

Photography by Nadine Burzler

Location based vintage hair and makeup specialists

events, vintage weddings, film & television production, photoshoots and training courses


Elsa Quarsell is a Swedish photographer based in London, renowned for her eclectic tableaus featuring simulacra of mods, cowboys, dancers and artists. In her new book, The Domestic Burlesque, she turns her lens to capture the outlandish exuberance of burlesque artists in the sanctuary of their own homes. Elsa profiles their on-stage personas and splices it with a dichotomy of domesticity: from double agents and superheroes to a woman who painstakingly sewed 5,000 sequins on to a bikini. Eccentricity, quirkiness and the downright bizarre collide with commonplace commodities such as the kitchen freezer and the ironing board imagine Through the Keyhole with Loyd Grossman wearing crotchless knickers. Retro grabs the keys and unlocks the doors to a selection of our favourite femmes.

Dinah Might
My favourite burlesque moment was being invited to compete at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend (formerly Miss Exotic World) in Las Vegas. This is the most prestigious burlesque event in the world and it was a thrill to perform alongside the best performers on the planet. I performed my Glamour Pussy routine, which begins with me in a luxurious long fake fur coat accentuated with diamantes. Reminiscent of old Hollywood glamour I slink and strike poses across the stage, but then I hear a cat meow. The audience never expects such an elegant lady to pull a cat puppet out and star t a comic narrative! The cat has a very naughty mouth, so I throw him aside and ask the audience, Are you ready for a real pussy cat? Then I burst out of my coat and strut with tons of sexy attitude dressed as a pussycat!

Ruby Rocket
Im a nerd. A huge nerd I love comic books and I dress up like superheroes. I have been sewing since I was little, and after much trial and error and many years of learning how to sew a straight line, I began making my own costumes and attending conventions. Around the time I star ted making my costumes, I got into modelling and burlesque and found it went hand-in-hand quite nicely. Growing up in a house full of girly mags, pin-ups and one too many showings of Gypsy (about the life and times of burlesque dancer Gypsy Rose Lee) can rub off on a gal. I refuse to take myself seriously. My performances are nerdy, goofy and geeky. What I enjoy most about performing is the roars of adulation from the audience. That is my life blood.


La Horrox
This act Les Apaches, is based on the 1930s underground violent dance between a Parisian pimp & prostitute. I flip to a modernist fracas accompanied by my ceramic, hand-made puppet, Ruffe. The act is inspired by the work of the duo Ivane & Andre Astor, famous apache dancers from a French circus family. I designed the costume myself and it was constructed by Mona Moon.


Mimi de Montmartre
Coming back home is like entering a world that is kind of cut from the real world: an inside-outside world. I have a strange relationship with Paris. Ive been living here for almost 10 years now, but I cant say that I love the city. So coming home is really impor tant for me, to retire a bit from the stressful Parisian life. When visiting my home, people who arent really into music, movies, books and so on usually think it is a museum. In a way it is, but its a living museum for me: I live here! Its a small apar tment, because having a big one in Paris is not affordable unless you earn lots of money, and I dont...well, not yet! So now it is full, I sometimes dream that I discover a new room that I didnt notice before that would be great! I could bring back all the things I left at my mothers place in the South of France and all the things that are waiting in the basement. There is one thing I brought back from there though: T sunami, my lovely cat. She really blended well with the place, especially with her tiger fur! She likes to wander or sleep everywhere in the apar tment and is never far from me, even though shes very independent or shes trying to convince herself that she is! Whenever theres a photo-shoot at home she adores to interfere! She is a natural born starlet...and I am a total anti-Feng Shui girl! Although Ill collect anything, every single object here is bound up with my life. Some are connected with my childhood, my teenage years, some with places I used to live, or people I met, or places I went, or with the things I love in music, movies, or ar t. Some collectors are monomaniacs, and every object they have relates to their main passion. Myself, Im a multimaniac! My place can be my inspiration for my routines, and some of the things I use on stage are actually par t of my every day world. In a way, going on stage is like moving my home...onto the stage!

Gwendoline Lamour
I star ted performing in 1999/2000 really as a natural progression of my own flamboyance and eccentricity! The corsetry, period costumes and showgirl outfits, which formed my early burlesque ensembles, had been pieces that I wore to Londons more cutting edge nightclubs, are very much par t of me. I simply found a different platform to perform that aspect of my personality. All my shows have carefully considered narratives, choreography, costume and props. I love developing and refining my work, designing and making costumes its all par t of the fun! My performances are rooted in concepts of decadent femininity and aristocratic, historical figures; so for example the gown I am wearing here is for my Swing show, which is based on Fragonards 1767 painting The Swing. The movement style is influenced by ballet, which itself was derived from the cour t manners of the 17th century. It truly is the greatest feeling in the world to go out on stage and enter tain people. Its addictive and very hard to give up! Ive performed all over the world, in some glorious and ravishing locations. I love to travel among my favourites are Budapest, Moscow, Dubai City and Vienna. That said, there is nothing like performing on home turf!

Agent Lynch
My original influence is the 60s. Im a huge fan of iconic films like Blow Up, Barbarella and the TV series The Avengers, they are a goldmine of costume and dramatic inspiration. Although Im producing a show based on Prince at the moment my first love will always be the Bond Girl. Being a burlesque dancer has enabled me to perform all over the world, but that got me into a bit of trouble last year. I was performing in Morocco and I had arranged a Bond Girl in Marrakesh styled photo-shoot. It went well until they arrested me when I was trying to fly out with my Olympic star ting pistol that I use as a prop in my shows. It was awful! I was held by the airpor t police and missed my flight. Luckily the British Embassy stepped in and I didnt have to spend a night in the cells, but they did hold my passpor t for three days. Sometimes being a faux international spy REALL has its Y drawbacks!

Images & artists copy from The Domestic Burlesque available to buy for 24.99 from

Classic Influence. Contemporary Style.