Here to cheer up your Monday Morning blues is the singing sensation that is Vesper Fontaine!
Why did you start performing? – I’ve been a consummate show-off for as long as I can remember, but I started getting paid to do it when I was 19.
Do you remember your first time on stage? How did that go? – At nursery school, my teacher encouraged anyone who wanted to do a dance or sing a song or tell a story to do so in front of all the other children once a week. I took it upon myself to sing songs from my favourite TV show until they gently suggested I should let someone else have a go.
Of all of your acts, which is your favourite to perform? – I think my Cry Me A River routine is probably my favourite – it’s certainly the one that seems to affect the audience the most. It’s not for every show, as it’s a very pared down, intimate routine and not what a lot of people expect from burlesque, but one of my prouder moments was silencing the entire audience at Madam Jojo’s with that act.
What sets you apart from other performers? – My acts harp back to the golden age of tease, where dropping a glove could be as enticing as seeing boobs; I like that element to run through everything I do, and audience members often tell me they find that very alluring. Cabaret in London has gotten very naked over the years, but I like to see the slightly frustrated looks on an audience’s face when they think they’re going to get a full reveal, and then don’t. What can I say, I’m a tease.
What do you think is people’s first impression of you? – Curvy, confident, heavily influenced by Jessica Rabbit.
What’s your favourite thing about cabaret? – The costumes and the creativity. I have a lot of respect for people that do things differently because they make you think, even though I’m heavily into vintage revival. But the costumes got me suckered in – who doesn’t like feathers and rhinestones?
How did you choose your stage name? – Vesper has multiple origins: a lot of my ideas of feminine glamour growing up came from the Bond girls (beautiful but could kill you with a pen), and Vesper was the original Bond girl. As such it’s also a cocktail, and I’m quite the fan of a well mixed drink. Also, vespers are a sung evening church service, and along with being a total night owl, I originally trained as a chorister. Fontaine came from the road I lived on when I moved to Paris, which was the first time it struck me that perhaps I could actually make my living from performing. La Fontaine, for whom the street was named, was a famous writer of fables, and I think we could all do with some whimsy in our lives.
What’s your next challenge in life or in performing? – Real life has got in the way of my performing for a while, so it’s trying to get back on track and produce the kind of acts I feel proud about performing. I’ve been learning a lot of new techniques and want to incorporate them into some new work, so watch this space.