We are off on a Luscious adventure this week and we’ll tell you all about it in next week’s blog. This week we spoke to our last guest teacher for the summer workshops, Trixi Tassels. This lady is one of the world’s top tasselers, she taught herself to tassel before she even knew what burlesque was! By the end of the class she’ll have you tasseling like a pro. Here’s what she had to say about how she began and what is the most Luscious thing about tasseling …
Do you remember the first time you performed as burlesque dancer? How did it go?
My first time was really before I had ever seen burlesque or even properly understood what it was. It was in New Zealand in 2005 when there was no burlesque scene at all, but a good friend of mine had lived in London and seen it there and performed herself. I had taught myself to tassel twirl just for the hell of it after seeing Elvira Mistress of the Dark do it in at the end of her film and then taught my friend too. I guess we were stuck with this random skill and decided to to put together a striptease routine for my then-boyfriend’s birthday. We were both already quite adept with costuming and performing, coming from the bellydance world, so we made our own custom emerald green burlesque costumes and choreographed a duo act to Minnie The Moocher. We performed in the middle of a decadent cocktail bar in Auckland full of antique furniture and decorated like a Victorian opium den. Our friends were well impressed although some didn’t quite know where to look when we started spinning our tassels! I absolutely loved it, but there was nowhere to perform in Auckland in those days so that was it for me until I moved to Perth, Australia and got into the burgeoning scene there. My first performance at a proper burlesque show was in January 2008 at my Sugar Blue Burlesque graduation show, and I’ve been performing ever since!
How did you choose your burlesque name?
At first I started out as ‘Volupta La Rouge’, for fairly obvious reasons, but it never really clicked with me and felt a bit cliched. One day, after 6 months or so when I was getting known in our little scene as a pro-tassel twirler who could do lots of tricks, I fell upon the pun of Trixi Tassels. I felt unsure about changing my name, but knew it had to be done early if I was going to do it. And Trixi felt far more me than Volupta.
What is a typical day for Trixi Tassels like?
My typical day is always focused around when I have to leave to get to the gig and how many hours I will have for my wet set to dry. Assuming it’s the weekend and I don’t have to leave early to catch a train or a plane, I will head to the gym as soon as I wake up for about an hour. After I’ve had my shower I will make a pot of strong black coffee and get to work on setting my hair in a wet sponge roll set which takes around 25-35 minutes. My hair is really long now and it’s the only way it holds a curl for more than half an hour, although it needs 8-10 hours to dry depending on the weather. I’ll then potter around the house and have a small breakfast and then set to packing my case for the show. I’m a pretty slow packer and usually it takes me two hours to pack when I am going to a gig abroad. I double check every element of costuming before I pack it and cross check everything against my costuming spreadsheet which lists every item for every act so I don’t forget anything. I always bring spare stockings, spirit gum, extra jewellery & pasties ‘just in case’. I’ve saved the skin of other performers as well as my own more than once with my arsenal of spares! I try not to schedule any social activities the day of a show but will sometimes head out to get my pedicure or manicure done or pick up anything I’ve run out of. I eat lightly on the day of a performance and don’t drink alcohol until post-show. Occasionally I will have a sip of bubbly backstage but definitely not if I’m doing any fire. I normally begin my make-up at home about an hour before I need to leave, although I leave my giant lashes until I get to the venue. I like to arrive to the venue early and hang out with the other performers and take my time getting ready rather than being rushed. I don’t like being stressed out! After I’ve performed I’ll normally have a large glass of wine as soon as I can get to the bar, followed by another swiftly thereafter. I like to chill out and mingle with the audience and other performers in the bar if there is time before I have to pack all my stuff away into my suitcase. Then it’s home on the tube to remove all my makeup, wash my face and hit the sack!
Which Burlesque performer has inspired you the most?
What is about them that inspires you?
Michelle L’Amour creates this insane energy between her and the audience which pulls you right in, even only on video footage. She has such elegance and poise, but with this insanely strong sexuality. I love seeing originality and people who know how to use their body, their costume and the space. I am drawn to performers who can truly bridge the gap between the stage and the audience and pull everyone right into their field of energy.
You have many different acts which is your favourite to perform?
I love Emerald Dreams. I enjoy it because it’s really high-energy and has a mix of my favourite performance dance styles of the bellydance drum solo and isolation technique, and a super sultry and intense bump n grind. I like to visually connect with the audience and this act really keeps the punters on their toes as there are so many visual and aural elements to the track, plus everyone enjoys the huge double Isis wings. I always utterly exhaust myself in this act. It’s just under 6 minutes but I come off stage drenched in sweat and panting like I’ve just sprinted a mile. It’s the best feeling.
What to do you think is the most Lusicous thing about Tassel Twirling?
The silliness of it! It’s so fun and absurd and I love watching people’s faces as they watch me go through my repertoire.
If you would like to learn how to twirl your tassels join us on Wednesday 17th August at Academy Mews Studios. Bookings via the classes page. Check out Trixi on her website trixitassels.com