Meet Gemma Layton!

Performer and Compare extraordinaire Gemma Layton will be hosting the Luscious Burlesque Night on Thursday and bringing her own je ne sais quoi to proceedings.

We’re taking this excuse to read her hilarious interview from her performance at Luscious Cabaret a few months ago. 


Why did you start performing?

A deep seated need to be adored. That and, if I was in the school play, I could negotiate not being involved in the sports day. Putting on silly voices and titting around was a much more attractive option than wearing giant, navy blue knickers and coming last in the 200 meters.


Do you remember your first time on stage? How did that go?

I was 6. The school play was Sleeping Beauty and I’d been cast as the wicked witch. In truth, I was gutted – I wanted to be sleeping beauty and the girl that got the part, in my opinion, looked like a Moomin. I suppose that was my first lesson in type casting and rejection. Still, I was the wicked witch and I relished it. I put on my best, evil voice at the christening when casting the curse then, when the “teenage” (6 year old) “Beauty” (Moomin) walked in to my “tower” (bit of the stage that you needed a single step to get on to), I went all “Come in, my dear” in my most saccharine voice. She didn’t stand a chance. She was Sleeping Moomin, I mean Beauty, in seconds and I was lauded as the best 6 year old actress every to walk the boards of Hasbury Primary School. I loved the adoration. And I loved the fact that I replaced Sleeping Beauty after the second performance in the job of ‘holding the collection plate’ so we could get more money. And so began my career of playing the quirky, non-lead roles.

Legal Waiver: All of the above is my imperfect memory, mixed in with my Mom’s bias. It may or may not have happened quite like that. Also, the girl probably did not look like a Moomin. I hope she’s well.  


Of all of your acts, which is your favourite to perform?

I love them all for different reasons. Mercedes Benson is great for audience banter. Beverley Vegas, who I’m doing at Luscious Cabaret, is just so beautifully naive that you forgive the fact that she’s delusional in her talents and relationships. All of my characters are a bit on the odd side with a healthy amount of darkness in them.


What is your biggest asset and your biggest flaw as a performer?

Biggest asset is probably my playful nature and my ability to react in the moment to what an audience gives me – a skill I’ve developed through stand up comedy. These qualities have led to some hilarious moments that wouldn’t have happened if I had just ‘stuck to the script’. My biggest flaw is that I can let my ‘internal editor’ get the better of me. I just need to get on stage and try things out – and not worry if it’s too dark or weird.


What do you think is people’s first impression of you?

If the first time they meet me is on stage, they probably think, “she’s super confident, with a slightly weird and darkly comic brain”. They probably wouldn’t date me.

If the first time they meet me is off stage, they probably think, “she’s friendly, quite witty, but she pushed that joke a bit too far”. They probably wouldn’t date me.


What’s your favourite thing about cabaret?

I love the fact that anything goes. The line up could include, singing, dancing, burlesque, comedy, mime, magic, spoken word; you never know what you’re going to get. I love the fact that boundaries blur across genres and there are no rules to what you can or should do. Also, that it’s a great medium for social comment.


We’ve all had those days when we feel like doing nothing. What motivates you to be productive on a daily basis?

The next show – if you know you’re going to be standing up in front of people and entertaining them, they deserve the courtesy of you making it good. And you owe yourself the same courtesy.


What’s your next challenge in life or in performing?

I’m working on a full show for Beverley Vegas called, “An Evening with Beverley Vegas: From Boozer to Cruiser”. It’s the story of her life from the working men’s clubs of Dudley to the high seas of low budget cruise ships, told through anecdotes and songs.
Another exciting challenge, later on on the year, is hosting the entertainment on the evening of Little Lady Luscious’ wedding! I’m calling that show, “Try not to say f**k and bugger and offend her relatives”


You can see Beverly at Luscious Cabaret on Friday.