rocket doll revue

How to Get Into Burlesque (by Frenchy LaRouge)

How do I get into burlesque? It’s a question we get a lot from fans and friends. It’s a question most established dancers get on a regular basis from other ladies (and sometimes gentleman), and we’re not the first, nor the last I’m sure, to finally just post a set of guidelines on the internet for those who are curious. So here it is, folks, Frenchy’s advice on how to get started in the world of burlesque:

1. RESEARCH. Go to shows, read about the history of burlesque, watch videos of experienced performers online, talk to performers in your area about what the community is like. Get as much info as you can! We may make it look easy on stage but trust me when I say, we did not wake up like this. If you’re doing it right, burlesque takes a lot of time, effort, and (usually) money. I personally have to book an act 3-5 times to recoup my costume expenses, for some people it’s more or less than that. Figure out what you can put into it as a hobby, what you’d like to get out of it (are you an entertainer at heart or do you just want to experience the thrill of the strip a few times?), and what you might be able to offer the community as a whole.

2. Take a class, or find a mentor. Would you pick up an instrument without finding out how to play it first? Burlesque is no different than joining a band, or trying out for a play. You should know what you’re doing before you get on that stage! If you can find a class in your community, take it! If you can’t find a class in your area, see if you can find someone who is willing to mentor you, someone who has been in the game for several years and can give you solid, honest advice on how to put together a performance and get booked in a show. Find someone who can tell you WHY they’re qualified to teach you the art of the tease, and can back that up with facts and experience. Having a mentor can save you time and often money on costuming as well. Learn everything you can! Never stop learning.

3. Pick a name! Picking a stage name is important, and fun. Do yourself a favor and steer clear of overused, typical “burlesque” names. They might sound fancy and exotic to a new performer, but once you get further into the community you’ll wish you didn’t have the same last name as 15 other girls, trust me. If I could go back and tell noob Frenchy one thing it would be to pick something other than LaRouge. Choose something that tells the audience who you are, and make sure it’s something they can pronounce and chant. Also, once you decide on something, GOOGLE IT. It’s no fun getting a message from someone who’s been using the name you picked for 10 years already.

4. Network. Introduce yourself to performers and/or producers at shows, get their email address or business card if they have one, and send them a quick, professional message that you’d love to help in any way you can. Volunteering to work the merch table or stage kitten a show is a great a way to get behind the scenes and develop relationships with people you want to perform for or work with. They can’t book you if they don’t know you!

5. Develop an act. Come up with a solid, unique routine that you can shop around to individual producers or troupes. I always suggest starting with something that isn’t specific to a certain theme, that way it’s easily repeated and can potentially fit in anywhere. Some troupes have auditions, and in that case you will want to be able to show them a fully realized act. If you can, get video of it to send to producers, even if it’s just on your phone in your living room, that way they know what they’re booking. A lot of cities, Indianapolis included, have at least 1 regular showcase for new and independent performers that are a good place to get some experience under your belt.

6. Be professional, honest, and open. It’s ABSOLUTELY ok not to know everything, and to ask questions, and to need help. A good attitude and willingness to listen will take you far in this community!

I hope this is helpful for anyone passionate about getting into striptease. It can be an extremely rewarding hobby/career and something that has definitely changed my own life in so many ways I can’t even begin to explain.

Thanks for reading!

xoxo,

Frenchy LaRouge