With Berlin Burlesque Week fast approaching (7th-13th May), we get together with Fifi Fantôme, performer and organiser of Friday 11th’s big Cabaret of Curiositease to get an insight to what this exciting show will entail. Including burlesque, drag and circus acts, we are also giving you the chance to win 2 tickets to the show at Toast Hawaii this Friday!
indieBerlin: Describe what your show involves?
Fifi Fantôme: Entering Cabaret of Curiositease will feel like stumbling upon a night circus that popped up out of nowhere. We will take you back to the travelling circus shows of yore, invoking the spirit of your darkest and most thrilling dreams. This Bizarre World of Wonder will feature contortionists, hand balancers, fire artists, drag, sideshow, neo-burlesque and so much more. Join us for the taste of the unknown.
indieBerlin: Tell us a little about your artistic background(s)
Fifi Fantôme: I started mostly as a theatre performer and dancer when I was younger. Then I slowly started learning fire from a really close friend while we were travelling in Central America. After that, I became obsessed with circus, and sideshow. I started performing quite regularly with bands and musicians and even put on a festival in Morocco. When I came back to Montreal I got invited to a burlesque show and I entered a world that I knew I had to be a part of. After that, I just became consumed by the world of burlesque. It felt like this sex-positive arena where all the performers had the utmost respect.
Burlesque is a form of expressing open and proud sexuality. It is a place where you can be this extreme version of yourself to your fullest sexualized nature in a society that sees that as negative.
My journey has taken me all over the world to perform in circus, theatre and burlesque shows including Stockholm Burlesque Festival, The Chicago Art Institute, Copenhagen Opera Festival, Copenhagen Pride and Berlin Burlesque Festival. Currently, I’m training at a circus school in Berlin while surrounding myself with as much burlesque, and immersive theatre as possible.
indieBerlin: What are your biggest artistic inspirations?
Fifi Fantôme: Charlie Chaplin, Marlene Dietrich, Sebastian Droste, Anita Berber, Sasha Velour, Dirty Martini, Kitten N’ Lou, Liza Minnelli.
indieBerlin: Do you prefer to play big festivals/stages or smaller club gigs?
Fifi Fantôme: It’s a toss-up depending on the festival or club. I love connecting and performing for smaller audiences because it means I can make a close connection with them. I can get close to them and look into their eyes and break the 4th wall. I think it’s important to connect deeply with audiences and it’s easier to do at smaller venues or clubs. However, I do love performing for large audiences. With massive stages, you can create a whole other world for the audience to become a part of.
indieBerlin: What’s the last performance you’ve seen?
Fifi Fantôme: I was just at Eucima, a circus festival in Madrid, where I saw some amazing circus artists including a Michael Zandl, a hat juggler who turned himself into a frog with hats. As well as Wes Peden, a juggler who juggled with massive blow-up palm trees which he balanced on his nose.
indieBerlin: What’s the best bit of doing a burlesque/cabaret performance?
Fifi Fantôme: Burlesque is a form of expressing open and proud sexuality. It is a place where you can be this extreme version of yourself to your fullest sexualized nature in a society that sees that as negative. For me, it is taking back the power that every day I’m told I don’t have. It is a political statement each and every time I take to the stage. It feels powerful to be on burlesque stages and I love the respect that I feel from audiences.
It allows for a world of storytelling, hilarity, character play and so much more.
The shows and community are also super supportive to one another. No matter what city I’m in, I feel like I’m part of this giant family that takes care of each other. It’s a really great support system that I’ve always felt included in.
indieBerlin: Are you more inspired by the old or the new styles of Burlesque?
Fifi Fantôme: I have an immense respect and I’m very inspired by the 20s. I think so many interesting cabaret performances and art came out of the Weimar Republic. You could stumble into a speakeasy with a secret entryway and walk into this world with insane performances that played with so many political themes at the time.
Entering Cabaret of Curiositease will feel like stumbling upon a night circus that popped up out of nowhere. We will take you back to the travelling circus shows of yore, invoking the spirit of your darkest and most thrilling dreams.
However, I also love the new styles of burlesque. I love neo-burlesque, which usually involves the combination of burlesque and comedy, politics, circus, theatre, as well as being more inclusive to men, drag queens and trans people. It involves storytelling, theatre, and best of all DRAMA! While I love all the glamour of classic burlesque I love all the obscenity and mayhem that can come out of neo-burlesque. It allows for a world of storytelling, hilarity, character play and so much more. I love all the sparkles of classic burlesque but usually, I lean more into the world of strange or obscene.
indieBerlin: Asides from Berlin Burlesque Week, where and when do you typically perform?
Fifi Fantôme: I perform quite a bit around Berlin at venues such as Toast Hawaii, Zum Starken August, Wintergarten, and Bassy Club (RIP). I also perform a lot with this Immersive Theatre Collective called Bad Bruises and we have regular parties at Kit Kat Club and Zur Wilden Renate.
indieBerlin: Do you have a special party trick?
Fifi Fantôme: I can put a cigarette butt out on my tongue.
indieBerlin: Tell us a secret only a burlesque dancer would know.
Fifi Fantôme: How to tape a merkin to your vulva.