1. Please introduce yourself.
Hi there! You’ll know me as Cherry Lesque but my ‘day to day’ name is Brittany! My nickname amongst friends and the burlesque scene is Cherry. I am 28. I am a medical coordinator.
2. When did you start attending burlesque classes and performing burlesque?
I started classes at the end of 2013. So I’ve been part of the Rouge Revue for 4 years.
3. How did you discover burlesque?
One of my close friends, Penny Pinup, started doing burlesque. I went to a show at the Sugar Hut and was sold! I only started a year later as I was living in Thailand for a while.
4. What attracted you to burlesque?
Aesthetically, I have always been attracted to the vintage pinup scene. Dita Von Teese played a pivotal role in developing my style as an individual.
When introduced to burlesque (not the movie!) I was blown away by how empowering it was. I knew I had to be part of the movement.
5. Did you have any reservations about starting burlesque?
Not at all!
6. How did/does your family, loved ones react to you performing burlesque?
Very supportive! My mom is one of my biggest fans, she is very progressive and passionate about female empowerment. My grandmother was surprised, she asked how much I took off, I told her she has seen more nudity on the beach.
7. How do you cope with pre-performance nerves?
I used to get extremely stressed but over time I have learnt to cope with the jitters better. Such as, on show day I usually like to sleep in a bit, set my hair first thing, have a pamper session (face mask, nails, etc.) and make sure I eat as I never have time on show night. I also pack all my costume pieces the night before to avoid a last minute scurry.
8. How do you reconcile your burlesque persona with your ‘day job’, do they ever collide/compliment or detract from each other?
My day job demands a lot of me! I multitask constantly and have to be rather serious! Cherry Lesque’s cheeky playfulness would not aid well in most of the tasks. However, Cherry does have an ability to ‘show up’ and not be shy and I feel this sneaks in when I need to stand up to something or speak to intimidating professionals. My day job has really taught Cherry to enjoy stage time and adapt to all kinds of environments and situations.
9. Please mention your burlesque inspiration, one local and one international performer and motivate your answer.
It is really hard to list one as I am surrounded by such inspirational, powerful women in the burlesque scene, especially my fellow Rougettes. I go through stages where I am more inspired by one performer if they resonate with me.
Currently, in the local scene, I find Vita Nova extremely inspirational, when I watch her perform I find how she connects to herself and the power she finds within herself truly breathtaking. Strawberry Sunday has played a significant part in Cherry Lesque’s recent growth and thought process. Bon Bon is always such a treat to watch and has my jaw on the floor every time. Of course Lady Magnolia has such strength and grace and is an ongoing mentor in Cherry’s evolution.
Internationally, I absolutely love Missy Lisa. She seamlessly brings such glam, sensual energy, cheek and empowerment to the stage. I dream of being able to bring her energy.
10. What is your favorite thing about burlesque?
Favourite thing? Impossible to answer! The glitter, the props, the glam, the sisterhood, the challenges, the audience… I could go on.
I do really love the costume making and conceptualising stages.
11. How has burlesque had an impact on your life outside of time in class and on stage?
I have been given a confidence and found myself within Cherry. This is massive.
A great example is my humour, I never realized I could be comical or had such a cheeky side, it has really changed who I am.
12. Do you have any rituals you do before you perform?
Makeup, glittering, hair and getting ready is a massive ritual in transitioning into ‘full on Cherry Lesque’. I like to be called Cherry backstage only. I also get in character when talking to anyone, I am cheeky and naughtier. I avoid discussing choreography or dealing with anyone’s emotions before – this really throws me off and makes me anxious.
13. How do you start the choreography for a dance?/ Create a solo?
My solo’s usually start off with a song that sparks a concept and story. Storytelling is a very important way for me to connect to a piece. If I found a song I listen to it on repeat and visualize the costume and choreography before it materializes.
14. What, to you, is the worst thing that can happen during a performance?
I feel my worst things have happened… props break before going on stage, costumes don’t come off as they should, completely drawing a blank and falling. Drawing a blank I think tops the list! I have learnt to lower blanks over the years, being more present and improvising if needed.
15. What is the nicest thing anyone has ever said to you regarding your performances?
I think the biggest compliment for me always is “I had so much fun in your piece.” I want the audience to smile when I am preforming, feel an overpowering joy!
The sweetest thing I heard was “I joined burlesque classes because of you!”.
16. What has been your funniest experience as a burlesque artist?
Wow. If you only knew what happens backstage. Vagina checks, Vita’s infamous gusset/ass check, awkward glittering positioning, boob hugs, the on point jokes… PG stuff really!
17. If you could perform for one person, dead or alive, who would you invite to be in the front row for your performance?
This one person thing is so hard for me! Haha! This answer really depends on my mood… Missy Lisa and Marilyn Monroe.
I do have a secret fantasy of performing Birthday in front of Katy Perry (the song artist). I think she would love it!
18. If you could go back in time to your very first show, would you do anything differently?
Definitely! I blacked out my first performance… I still managed to do all the choreography in a robotic, automatic way but not being present or engaging in the audience is absolutely no fun. So, if I could I would have told myself to not obsess over choreography and have fun but I guess this lesson can only be learnt over time.
19. Who are your go-to’s in Cape Town for costumes and props i.e. Lingerie, stockings, gowns, fans, props etc.
Wolf Clothing (corsetiere) and myself. I really like to be a big part in the production of my costumes and spend hours on them. Most of my costumes have details the audience may probably never notice but this process is so vital for me to connect with the piece. Helna from Wolf is phenomenal at seeing my vision and coming up with beautiful costumes… especially corsets!
20. Please send a link to a youtube video of your favorite track to listen to at the moment.
I have a very serious love for alternative female fronted bands. However, Cherry is such a sucker for cheesy catchy tunes (surprise!). Current one (don’t deny it for a second… you love it too!!!!):