Immodesty Blaize has been a busy woman lately, transforming her career from international burlesque superstar to author and film maker.
The undisputed queen of British burlesque talks to FemaleFirst about her new book, 'Tease,' and what else is on the cards for 2010.
How are you today?
I'm very well, thank you.
Have you been busy recently promoting your new book?
Yes I have, I've got a film out too so I've been working hard on that as well - it'd be nice to get back for Christmas.
Do you have any exciting plans for Christmas?
Just eating turkey, I suppose!
So, obviously you've had this amazing burlesque career, what made you want to transgress into writing a book?
I like to create fantasy worlds, whether that's on stage or however, so writing a book seems another way of creating another world.
Did you enjoy being an author?
I did yes, it was great fun.
How did your past and your career play a role in the development of the storyline?
Well, I think most authors write about what they know about and seeing as its something I'm very well acquainted with! I used a lot of my experiences to inform me... it is fiction though! I definitely don't have as many skeletons in the closet as my main character does! But I mean there's obviously a lot of insider information there about how the business works and what it takes to put on a show and things like that.
Would you say you have any similarities with the main character, Tiger Starr?... Apart from the obvious of Tiger being a burlesque performer!
And I don't have pink hair! But no, not really. All characters are types and people who I've met along the way have kind of informed a lot of my characters but they're still fiction.
Tiger gets nervous a lot before her shows, do you ever get nervous before you're about to go on stage?
I don't get stage fright or anything, I get more of an adrenaline rush rather than nerves because if you didn't it means you don't care about the performance, well anything you care about you're going to be concerned over how it's going to turn out, so I'd say more of an adrenaline kick, definitely. I think all performers should have that before they go on stage.
Where did the inspiration for the characters come from?
I guess from people who I've met.
Have you based a character on a real person?
Well I don't think I'd ever put a real person in my book because that's quite an honour, it's actually a big honour! You want to hear that characters voice in your head when you're writing, so you might use movie stars who you like or who you think might play them in a film. So their voice is in your head when you're writing the character.
As a burlesque dancer you obviously promote this very positive image of a woman celebrating her curves, do you think that women should embrace their sexualty and become more body confident?
Sexualty and body confidence are two kind of different things, but it's certainly about women embracing the idea that we don't all have to be one thing - that's the important thing. Some women are naturally thin, there's nothing wrong with that, it's about accepting that we're all born with different body types.
We are told a lot that there is one way to look and fashion's changed a lot with this too. We don't all have to shoehorn ourselves into this one idea of what we should look like - we're all different and it's about accepting and going with what you've got, and making the best of what you've got rather than trying to change yourself into someone else.
Have you always loved your curves?
I'd say that as a teenager no, I really struggled with it because in the 90s it was very fashionable to be androgynous looking, so having breasts made me very self conscious - I had to find my way of accepting that. Then I I found a way to make it really positive and now I love looking and feeling like a woman. I work out hard and I take care of my body, I sculpt my body and you know, I'm healthy and fit.
What made you want to become involved with burlesque dancing?
There was never one moment, you dont wake up when your five and go, "mummy I want to be a burlesque dancer!" It just grew over time and like I say, I've always worked in creative areas where it's about creating different fantasy worlds. I used to work in film and that was the same thing - create another world except with a camera. So this was an extension of that really, to be able to perform and do it on stage.
What's your favourite part of the job?
Oh God! I'm not sure! Probably all the research and designing the costumes, the first stages where it's a blank canvas and you're coming up with the ideas and you're creating something and starting to put all your team together. It's exciting to start with a blank canvas.
I noticed that in the book you concentrate a lot on the creativity that goes into the shows, was this something you intentionally wrote about?
Yes, back in the old days that's what it was about, these women created their own things and it wasn't about one choreographer telling a load of girls what steps to do, it really was about the individual creativity and creating their own performances.
When you wrote the book did you want people to see this side of burlesque dancing and give them the insight to what happens backstage?
Yes - in the sense that it's a genre that has enjoyed a revival very recently, people are used to seeing pop stars, they're used to seeing actors and actresses and they probably know what goes on behind the scenes in theatres and in musicals, but they're perhaps not so familiar about burlesque shows or showgirls. So, I thought it would be interesting to show the history of where it came from. It is a whole other world, it's supposed to be escapism and taking you into another world that you maybe didn't know about. I thought it was a good setting for a book.
Are you looking forward to people seeing this different side to you, writing this book instead of performing on stage?
Yes, I guess I just wanted to share something. I don't speak on stage, it's nice to be able to have a voice by writing. It's nice to be able to put things into words.
What's next for Immodesty Blaize?
Well I've got my film, 'Burlesque Undressed,' coming out in January it'll go to DVD in time for Valentines day! I'm just finishing off the next novel, 'Ambition' which is set in Vegas, that's been a bit of a riot to write actually, especially the research!
Oh! What does this new book have to offer us?
It's a bit different, obviously being set in Vegas. It's set in one of the big shows over there, I spent a lot of time performing in Vegas so it's another chance to show a slightly different world I guess! Truth is stranger than fiction, this book is going to be a lot more revealing!
And how about the film?
The film 'Burlesque Undressed' it's about burlesque! And it's basically - I give a history of the genre, it's like a documentary, it's based around my live show - the Tease show, and we have footage from some of the best performers in the world from America, we interview the old legends from the 1950s and see footage of them. So it's really a kind of tour of the genre.
Immodesty Blaize's amazing new book, 'Tease,' will be available from 7th January price £6.99.