I’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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
I 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.
After 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.
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)
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.
I 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)
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.