The magnificent Burlesque performer and producer Champagne Sparkles tells it all / indieberlin interview

Tomorrow at the legendary Fish & Whips – hosted by Jack Woodhead at the Kookaburra Comedy Club – Champagne Sparkles will give her first Burlesque performance in our city since moving to Berlin. indieberlin has asked the talented and sexy Canadian about her way to Berlin, Burlesque feelings and creatice sparkles … Enjoy!

ib: You come from Canada and have mainly worked in Canada and the US with producing burlesque shows and performing burlesque yourself. What brought you here? 

My husband and I have been visiting Berlin for increasingly longer visits since 2007 – we LOVE it here! He is a sound artist, doing installations and performances, and our small city in Canada (Victoria, BC) doesn’t have a lot of that sort of art going on, Berlin on the other hand has a huge community. I starting connecting into Berlin’s burlesque community in 2007 with a performance at White Trash Fast Food, booked by Trixie Trainwreck and have met more and more fabulous burlesque people with each visit.

We have both found wonderful communities for our passions – so Berlin is a natural place for us!

ib: How is it different from the German and especially Berlin Burlesque scene?

I come from a little island on the west coast of Canada, we’re a little bit isolated, so, I feel like we (the troupe I co-founded, The Cheesecake Burlesque Revue) have developed our own style there. It is based on story-telling and comedy, and incorporates a wide variety of influences including modern music and themes. We haven’t focussed on a classic or retro style of burlesque, and we emphasize fun and body confidence!

I haven’t seen all the Berlin burlesque performers, so I don’t feel like I can say definitively how it is different. But I am going out to as many shows as I can! I think Europe, in general, has been newer to develop a modern burlesque scene, in North America it started in the mid-1990s and I think it was the mid-2000s when it really started to develop here.

Berlin is such a large city, with such a rich history of cabaret and performance, it seems like there is a lot of room for the burlesque scene to grow here. The community here is incredibly welcoming, supportive and cooperative, it really feels like a one big family, which has been very nice to come into! The events I’ve been to are well attended and show a variety of burlesque styles, which I think is critical to the development of the art form. I am excited for the opportunity to bring my skills into this community and to see how we all develop burlesque in Berlin.

ib: Being relatively fresh in Berlin, do you want to share some experiences that you think are typical for Berlin?

Staying out too late! My goodness! You can find something fun and interesting to do at any time of day or night… and staying up waaaaaaaay past your bedtime seems very ‘Berlin’! I also love how with the merest peak of the sun, every cafe and restaurant has their patio set up, and people are wrapped up in blankets sipping coffee outside!

ib: Can you express what Burlesque means to you personally?

Burlesque is my main creative outlet, I am the performer, as well as the director, choreographer, costumer, and manager, I am in total control of my performance and what I put on stage is completely my own creation. As an individual, I love the self-confidence I’ve gained by performing and developing self-acceptance via the creative process. I truly love that I can express myself with my body, entertain people and hopefully, make them feel good about themselves too!

Burlesque combines so many elements of art that appeal to me – music, dance, theatre, and comedy – in a way that also celebrates women and supports us to be proud of who we are and to flaunt it! Fun, glamour, creativity, sisterhood, and the ability to spread a healthy sense of sexuality and femininity – I can’t think of anything else more worthwhile to do and no better way to be entertaining and entertained. For me, it’s the best of all creative worlds and empowers both the performer and the audience. It is a chance to exaggerate, articulate and play with the definition of femininity.

ib: Why did you decide to become a Burlesque performer?

Completely by accident! I went to university to study ecology, and during that time I saw a few burlesque performances, and the show that really grabbed me was seeing Catherine D’Lish at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver – she was beautiful, funny and daring! Seeing her made me want to do burlesque… but I went on to do my masters degree at university and start a consulting company. Then in 2006, my future burlesque sister Midori Colada decided to have a burlesque workshop for her birthday, we learned about the history of burlesque from Little Woo, a Vancouver performer, we came up with names, made pasties, tassel twirled and learned some choreography. I was enthralled!

Next, it was another friend, Miss Via Rose, who’s birthday came up, she had also been studying burlesque and we held a party and mini-show in celebration, all of our friends came together and cheered wildly for us! We were then invited to perform at another event, which was sold out, 250 people attended, and while being one of the scariest things I’ve ever done (going on stage solo in front of 250 people for my first public show), I was completely hooked by the time I left the stage to a cheering crowd! Our group then joined with some other women in Victoria to form a troupe, The Cheesecake Burlesque Revue – and I’ve been performing with the troupe and as a touring solo artist ever since!

ib: What would you say your particular style is?

Cute, coy, cheeky and often downright funny, with a touch of sexy and a whole lotta sparkle! I love incorporating humour into my performances – from a sassy wink, to my big cheezy smile, all the way to complete silliness!

ib: What Burlesque performers are “idols” or influential for you?

My burlesque sisters in my troupe in Canada are probably my biggest influence because we’ve worked together non-stop for seven years. I am also inspired by many different facets of the entertainment and musical worlds. My influences come from the many classic burlesque artists including Sally Rand, Dixie Evans, Gypsy Rose Lee, Lili St. Cyr, and Mae West, modern burlesque artists such as Miss Indigo Blue, Julie Atlas Muz, Trixie Little and the Evil Hate Monkey, and Tigger! I am also influenced by musicals, films, drag performers, and the Muppet Show!

I try to absorb what I enjoy and admire, and then incorporate what I learn into Champagne Sparkles and add some extra glitter!!!!!

ib: Burlesque is not only a certain art of dancing but also a lifestyle, style in fashion and of course attitude. What do you reckon is the most important part and how do you think that art, music, fashion and lifestyle influence each other?

Burlesque’s do-it-yourself mode of operating allows for the expression of one’s artistic vision, including sexuality and sensuality in so many ways – from traditionally sexy to humorous, even to gory – because we self produce we can allow anything to influence and inspire us – art, music, fashion, and I think that varies from individual to individual.

As far as a lifestyle, some people choose to live a certain aesthetic on and off stage, for others their on and offstage personas may be more distinct (by choice or because of conflicts with other types of work). For me the lifestyle of burlesque is about accepting and loving ones self and others, not comparing yourself to others, and supporting one another – it’s knowing that celebrating the successes of others doesn’t diminish your own shine.

ib: Why do you think there are so many women interested and fascinated by the Burlesque way?

When I began performing burlesque I didn’t know the effect it would have on the women in the audience, beyond entertainment. It is very powerful for women (and men) to see someone on stage that they can relate to. Burlesque is one of the few kinds of entertainment that women of all ages, colours, sizes, ages, orientations can be successful in. Not to say that there aren’t challenges within this community as well, but generally the community and audience are accepting and encouraging of a diverse array of performers on stage.

I think when we see performers we can relate to it provides a deeper connection and allows an audience member to put themselves in our place for a moment. I think burlesque helps a lot of women access a healthy body image and confidence, while being a whole lot of fun.

ib: You are going to perform at the Fish & Whips on tuesday, the 19th of March and this is going to be the first time you perform in Berlin. What’s your feelings about it and what can we expect – ’cause we are certainly very excited!

It’s my first time performing in Berlin since arriving here in December – I have previously performed at White Trash Fast Food (2007), Pinky’s Peepshow at the Bassy Club (2011) and with the Teaserettes at their Burlesque Circus Freak Show at the Roadrunner Club (2011)!

It’s my first time on the Fish & Whips stage and I am really excited to work with Jack Woodhead and his amazing team! I will be bringing some of my comedic burlesque acts including a surprise ‘friend’ for a duet and a little taste of spring for winter-bound Berliners!

Thank you very much and we look forward to many glittery and sparkling performances!

 

Interview by Mia Morris / photos by (1) Roxi DLite, (2) Sarah Stein, (3) Roxi DLite, (4) Trevor Jansen

 

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