Isabella Bliss – Our Modern Day Starlet!

Isabella Bliss burlesque performerI’m sure I was not the only audience member at Cue Tease‘s Summer Striptease who fell a little bit in love with Miss Isabella Bliss.  You may well have read my blog post ‘My 5 Summer Striptease Favourites’ about it, at the time.  For me it was the her classic elegance and glamour that captivated me.  So, intrigue got the better of me and I decided to get in contact with her to find out more and share it with you all!  You lucky things!! 

Tell us a little about your background?

I live and grew up in sunny Essex and I am one of four kids, I have two little brothers and a little sister. They love what I do but also think I’m mad!

Isabella Bliss belly dancing

I had a love of dance at a very young age and attended ballet, tap and modern dance. I also became carnival Queen at the age of eight and kept titles for many years from junior queen to senior Queen, which involved attending events and competing in competitions demonstrating elegance by way of curtseys and speeches in front of a judges panel.  This helped me with my posture and poise and I won a fair few trophies.  I was a majorette as well, so I guess you could say I enjoyed entertaining from a young age.

As I got older I took up belly dancing lessons which I loved and I performed in a troupe and solo. I very much enjoy the history and the culture of this beautiful form of dance. It comes in very handy when I travel to various countries where it’s a tradition. I always get up with the belly dancer entertainer and have fun. I believe dancing is a universal language; an expression of women’s empowerment.  Its such a beautiful thing.

Isabella Bliss Face of LondonI have also been a beauty Queen winning various titles including Miss Universe Essex, Face of Essex and I’m the current reigning Face of London.

Being a beauty Queen is not all pretty dresses and titles you get the opportunity to help people, something I am very passionate about. I dedicated a lot of my time to work very closely with various charities including Strongbones Children’s Charitable Trust, Rainbow Child Foundation, and Headway Brain Injury Association. I do fundraising days and hospital visits or volunteer for the day centres.  It brings smiles to people’s faces just spending that bit of time showing you care.

Isabella Bliss charitable work

‘Me with the Handsome Jack’

To date I have raised £7,000 for the various charities also including Cancer Research and True Heroes. I have also competed twice internationally in world pageants where I was placed in the top 10 in the world both times.

How did you get into burlesque?

I got into burlesque through striptease. I learnt to pole dance from my friend Lisa as a bit of a laugh. She had taken it up as a fitness class and we had some funny girly night’s practicing new moves. I wondered what it was like to pole dance in a real club and be a striptease artiste. So, in one brave move, I went to a club and asked for an audition. Although I had good fun and enjoyed pole dancing, I never really fitted the stereotype, I was always trying new looks trying to find myself and be different.

I worked in the striptease industry for a while and it was fun, but I often wondered how we got there. How did this pole dancing and strip tease all start?  It had to come from somewhere.

Isabella Bliss burlesque performer

So I started researching through the decades and found this marvelous thing called Burlesque. That was it ,I felt like I found myself. I spent hours late at night watching and researching the legends online.  I wanted to learn as much as I could about this amazing art form .

I found out that burlesque was having a massive revival and there were now many burlesque clubs in London, so I started going to some shows. I would watch and learn as much as I could and before long I started work on my own style and character, to build Isabella Bliss.

I found it difficult at first, as, at that time, burlesque in the UK was very comical, alternative or edgy and I knew I was non of those things. I liked the old classical style of performing the glamour and the elegance, recreated by people like Catherine D’Lish. I had to be true to myself and what I liked so I created Isabella Bliss around all the things I loved. Taking inspiration from the classic legends like Sally Rand and Lili St Cyr. I also was deeply interested in the Moulin Rouge and Persian show girls. I loved the glamour and spectacle of it all. I remember being a little girl and hearing about the Moulin Rouge and being in awe of it all. I was lucky enough a few years ago to go to Paris and experience the Moulin Rouge and it was simply amazing. Everything I thought it would be and more.

Isabella Bliss MIsabella Bliss My Fair LadyI also grew up watching a lot of all singing all dancing Hollywood movies like ‘Singing in the Rain’, ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blonds’ and ‘My Fair Lady’. (‘My Fair Lady’ photo by Chris Ashkettle Make Up by Maddie Robins)

I love the elagance and class of the era.  Everyone looked smart and women really knew how to dress.

I adore Marilyn Monroe for her understanding of feminity and sexuality. She would spend many hours studying body language in her early days. She didn’t just turn up and was a star, she worked hard at it for many years perfecting herself. She showed people of that era that it was ok to be a woman and be sexy and that being a woman is something to be celebrated.

Now, when I’m creating my costumes, I always put on a good classic film to relax to. They inspire me, help me find my inner Hollywood movie star. Something I try my best to channel when I perform. My inner ‘Marilyn’, as it were.

How long have you been performing?

I have been performing Burlesque for 14 months.

Isabella Bliss Feathered KissesAfter working on my costumes and acts I got my first opportunity to perform through a friend. They run an agency called Actz Entertainment I had asked to go on the books but they said they don’t get any call for burlesque, but I persisted.

I was out for my birthday family meal when my birthday cake came out. I blew out the candles and I wished with every part of me to get my first performance opportunity. Living proof that birthday wishes come true, within the hour our friends at Actz called me and I had my first show. After that there was no stopping me.

That first show was at The Egg in Camden for a charity burlesque show.  I loved it.  I was nervous, as would any one be, but also super excited, to be finally doing something so beautiful that I love.

I’m not nervous about going onto the stage, I get more nervous as I want to get it perfect, and wow the crowd. I’m a terrible perfectionist and I’m always striving to achieve more. I spend many hours and days before shows rehearsing to make sure I’m hitting the beat and giving the best I can.

London Burlesque Festival 2014What’s you biggest ‘burlesque’ achievement to date?

Performing and appearing in the Hit E4 TV Show The Drifters and being selected for London Burlesque Festival 2014.

Favourite performance to date?

Performing for Cue Tease.

Which of your acts do you enjoy performing the most?

Oh god, that’s a hard choice.  I love all of them as they are so different. They are all equally fun to do, but create different reactions. My ‘Feathered Kisses’ fan dance  is lovely as people find it really moving to watch. I think it’s magical when you create something that moves people in a way they do not expect. (Red fans ‘Feathered Kisses’ picture above by the talented Czarina Josef Images. Also on Facebook)

Isabella Bliss All That Glitters

But I also enjoy doing ‘My Fair Lady’ too, she’s a great act. I love the costume and its a honour playing homage to Audrey Hepburn who was sensational on the screen.

I design all my own costumes and love putting crystals on everything. I like to challenge my self to how extravagant I can make each costume.  They are just getting bigger and more opulent. The costume I’m currently working on is based on the Moulin Rouge and Folies Bergere.

Who most inspires you?

Catherine D’Lish has sex appeal by the ton and makes it look effortless I love that about her. Dita of course, plus she’s a great inspirational business woman. She has achieved so much for herself and for the world of burlesque.

Isabella Bliss as Marilyn MonroeI also adore LouLou D’vil. I did a workshop with her and she is such great woman. Her stage presence is sensational and her performances empowering.

I am however inspired by many people not just those within the burlesque scene. Movie stars like Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly and of course the Moulin Rouge and Folies Bergere show girls.  (Isabella as Marilyn – photo by the talented Czarina Josef Images. Also on Facebook)

Cue Tease Burlesque Soiree De JeuWhere can we see you performing in the near future?

In the coming months you can see me at the Latest Cue Tease event ‘Soiree De Jeu‘ and I’ll be performing at The London Burlesque Festival on  Tuesday 20th May at The Hollywood Revue Show. Later in the year I’ll be in a very special show in my home county at the world famous Circus Tavern.

Tell us 3 things about you which very few people know: 

I used to do Jelly Wrestling.

I secretly love Disney Movies and Disney Land.

I enjoy travelling.

Most embarrassing moment

I was doing a charity collection at a boxing show in full beauty queen gear, dress, crown sash, the lot and I was invited into the ring to speak about the charity. I misjudged the distance between the stage edge and the edge of the ring where there was a little gap and I fell into it! Very funny. I got a round of applause and I think it helped raise more to be honest, as I made them laugh. I am a bit of a klutz sometimes. x

Now ladies and gents, if that hasn’t got desperate to get your behind to Isabella Bliss’s next performance, then I despair!  You clearly missed out on the ‘Burlesque Glitter & Glamour’ gene!

Whether you can be there or not, I think you will all agree with me when I say ‘what a lovely lady’.  It really has been a pleasure dealing with her and I certainly wish her every success in her future career.

If this has inspired you to give it a try yourself, we have new Foxy Burlesque beginners burlesque courses starting first week of April. Click here to find out more and book your place.  Don’t forget if you can’t get to one of our venues, we can always run an intensive course for you in your area, if you have a group of ladies interested, or we also do private lessons and hen parties.

You can keep up to date with Isabella Bliss on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and through her website.  Enjoy!!  Lxxx…

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Foxy Burlesque student’s open letter

Alison Jeffries photographed by Terry Mendoza of Retro Photostudio

My gorgeous Foxy Burlesque student (and now friend), Alison Jeffries recently wrote the most lovely letter about me and her experiences as a Foxy Burlesque student and she asked me to share her comments with you.  So, here goes:

Alison Jeffries doing Foxy Burlesque Seven Veils dance‘Yesterday I changed my Facebook profile photo for a snap taken by Laura at the finale of the Seven Veils dance, a new course at Foxy Burlesque.

I love the photo.  I look so relaxed and totally enjoying myself, in the moment.

Laura commented on the photo I posted saying “Beautiful Lady” which was such an amazing compliment, but what I have been thinking about since was this…

Laura is the most wonderful teacher and lady.  She absolutely sees the real beauty in all the ladies that she teaches, despite all the lumps, bumps, wrinkles and scars we carry.

She sees the true beauty and specialness in every single one of us.  She is an inspiration and an amazing teacher.

Laura Lawton of Foxy Burlesque by Terry Mendoza Retro PhotostudioHer enthusiasm and passion to bring the very best to a class and to make us all feel special, is simply wonderful.
I had not been to a class for quite some time, having been busy with other things for around 18 months and I had completely forgotten quite how absolutely inspiring uplifting and amazing dancing is and how being taught by Laura has brought me confidence and empowerment that I will cherish for ever.

Laura you are an inspiration to us all and for anyone wondering if they would not be able to dance because of nerves or confidence, I urge you to give it a go, you will not be dissapointed by how amazing it makes you feel.

Much love A xxx’

Well, I have to say I was rather speechless, when I read this (a rare thing!) and a little emotional.  I was so touched by the fact that she had taken the time to say something so lovely, but also that she felt I helped make a real difference to the way she was feeling about herself.

I guess the thing is we all have our hang ups and the bits we don’t like about ourselves and sometimes it takes someone else to remind us just how beautiful and special we are.  I am so pleased I got to be the person to remind Ali, as she really is a true lady. Beautiful inside and out.

Much love back Ali.

Lxxx…

(First and third photographs by Terry Mendoza of Retro Photostudio)

My 5 ‘Summer Striptease’ favourites!

Summer Striptease line-upNow, I’ve already told you a bit about the wonderful Leanne Rice aka Ruby Woo, plus she wrote a guest post for us ‘4 of the prettiest things spotted at the Big Burlesque Day Out‘ back in May.

Well, I finally got to see the lovely lady performing her own act at Cue Tease Burlesque‘s Summer Striptease.

It was a great evening and here are my 5 favourites:

Ruby Woo at Summer StripteaseFavourite Act

Well, Leanne’s of course!  The beautiful Ruby Woo is a bit of a comedian, truth be told.

Dancing a cheeky farm girl act to The Wurzel’s ‘Combine Harvester’, she strutting her stuff, while working her way through a bottle of Scrumpy Jack before, revealing her straw covered pasties.

Mimicking Dita Von Teese’s champagne pour, her act culminated in her cooling off under the remainder of her Scrumpy.  So proud to be her burlesque Mamma!  She did such a great job and didn’t look at all nervous.  If you get a chance to see her performing, snap it up!

Calibre Blue at Summer StripteaseFavourite Costume

Calibre Blue’s sassy fast paced American act was beautifully polished and fun.

Dancing with fans and chewing gum, while emblazoned with stars and strips, she whipped up a storm.

Can’t wait to see her again, performing a different act.  I get the feeling she has some beauties up her sleeve!

Beulah Belle at Summer StripteaseFavourite Dancer

For me, Beulah Bell is a very special burlesque dancer.  I haven’t seen her perform before but her act was truly classy and professional.

I can be quite picky about the acts I like and this one was a real treat.

She had a fantastic costume, danced with red fans and even had a cheeky mini fan on her hat, which was used to hide her ‘dignity’ for a couple of seconds.  Hope to see her again.

Isabella Bliss at Summer StripteaseFavourite Style

As for Platinum Blonde pin-up Isabella Bliss, you can imagine her drinking expensive champagne with the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield.  She has the Hollywood icon look, down and dusted.

Her act was more classic and alluring, which I guess is more my kind of style, so it was lovely to watch an act I could imagine having choreographed myself.

Sadie Sinner at Summer StripteaseFavourite Comedian

Well, actually favourite comedians, the evening’s hosts Sadie Sinner and Miss C.

Miss C at Summer StripteaseGetting the hosting job done right is so important, as the audience really need to be relaxed but also united and excited by the acts to come.

These ladies did a fab job.  They had us ‘whoop’ing, ‘cheer’ing and even ‘hell yeah’ing, with plenty of quick wit and one liners thrown in to the mix.

Down points

We had a great evening, but the venue was not great and unfortunately this is often the way.  Finding a venue suitable and cost effect, when you have a number of acts to pay is no mean feat.  I just wished I could have transported these beautiful glamourous ladies to a more classy and luxurious establishment.  In the ideal world though.  Not necessarily very realistic.

The only other things that was a little disappointing was the number of people in the audience.  It was such a great night and there were a nice crowd, but the organisers and the acts, so deserved a bigger crowd.

Is this because of the venue?  People just not understanding burlesque enough to give it a try?  Or, maybe it’s down to the challenge of marketing such an event?  I certainly know marketing is my biggest task.  Getting your name out there is hard work.

Whatever, they deserve a packed room, so ‘like’ their facebook page and look out for their next event, so you can support this great team of cheeky lasses.

Li-Anne June at Summer StripteaseInspirations

Well, I have wanted to do a belly dancing burlesque act for a while and seeing Li-Anne June do hers, gave me the kick up the behind that I have needed.  She was absolutely captivating.  It was beautiful, sexy and cheeky.

So I had my first intensive 1-2-1 belly dancing lesson this morning and I’m looking forward to the point when I have enough skills to choreograph a dance of my own.  Thank you Li-Anne.

Oh and did you see Isabella Bliss’s boa in the picture above?  I now have to have a boa with sparkling balls on it!  I NEED one! 🙂

(You can see that the lovely pictures I have used are by Scarlet Rose Photography.  To see more of her beautiful photos, check out her Facebook Page)