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 semi-permanent make-up experience! Part 2

*This is part 2. You may want to read part 1 first* 

Well, four weeks had passed since the first stage of my semi-permanent lips procedure, so last Thursday I headed back to Canterbury to see Helen for stage two.

Semi-permanent Lips stage 2 anaesthetic cream onYou have to wait the four weeks for the full colour to come out, so here is a ‘before stage two’ picture, with the anaesthetic cream taking affect and the lovely cling film in place. As you can see my lip line is nicely defined and I have the blush look I wanted, which is basically the liner colour blended into the lip colour.  I have to say, I love it already. It’s very natural looking, but at the same time my lips are ready to go, without any effort at all.  I’m really looking forward to getting the final result four weeks after stage 2.

So, back to cling film. I saw a few people find my stage 1 blog post from searching the web with questions about the cling film stage.

So, why cling film?  I asked Helen, so I could report back and the cling film is put on the lips to starve the skin of air, so the anaesthetic cream and the pigment are drawn (sucked) in to the skin more.

Semi-permanent lips liner tool headAnyway, we chatted about the colour and agreed it looked really nice already, so it was decided to stick with the shade from stage 1, but to just intensify the colour by repeating the process.

First was the lip liner, which uses a smaller head on the tool.  Here’s a picture of the tool itself and below is a picture of the tool in use.

Semi-permanent lips liner tool head in useA bigger head (below right) is then used when it comes to the ‘blush’ (blending the colour from the lip liner, into my natural lip colour).  Helen kindly kept me nice and clean for the pictures, but if you do look at yourself in a mirror when you are mid procedure, you could panic.  The good news is, it’s not blood all over your face, it’s the pigment.  It’s quite a messy business, but easily wiped clean.

As you can see from the pictures, Helen works on one lip while the other has the anaesthetic cream and cling film on, and then she changes that around, to work on the other lip for a while, while the anaesthetic cream is again left to do it’s job.  That alternating continues a few times throughout the procedure.

Semi-permanent lips large tool head in useHelen was surprised too, but I actually nearly fell asleep for the second half of this stage.  The anaesthetic had worked wonders and the buzzing of the tool was helping me drift off.  I really had to fight it.  I do also have to be honest and admit, I am massively sleep-deprived and could probably sleep standing up on hot coals right now.

Semi-permanent lips large tool head in use 2So, about 40 minutes later, Helen was finished and it just the healing process ahead of me.

One thing, I didn’t go into much in my stage 1 write up was the immediately after phase.  Both times, once the anaesthetic had worn off, my lips were really uncomfortable.  They felt like they are burning.

Semi-permanent lips immediately afterHere’s a picture and if you look you can see they are pretty angry looking.  You can see a red line outside of my lips, which is nothing to do with the treated area, it’s just the product of being very sore.  I actually popped into a shop and got some ibuprofen this time.

The great news is, this is very temporary and as with stage one, after two hours, I was aware of the pain easing off. A couple of hours later, I started applying Bepathan (nappy cream) as you need to keep the area moist and protected.

I had this stage 2 treatment late in the afternoon and, as you can see below left, by the next morning they were no longer looking angry.  They look a bit odd, as the Bepathan is a creamy colour, but they look calmer.  They were still a little sore and sensitive, but the painful bit really was just that first two hours each time.

Semi-permanent lips day twoI’m sure if celebrities have this done, they manage to hide away for a few days, but for me, there was no such option, so life as usual continued, I just felt rather self conscious about my very over the top lip colour.  As I mentioned in my stage 1 write up, until the lips are healed and the scabs have gone, the colour is about 50% stronger, than the end result will be.  It was very much a case of ‘here’s my lips and the rest of me is coming’.

Semi-permanent lips day three

I don’t know about you, but I have this ridiculous need to explain things.  I could kick myself every time, but before I knew it, I was apologising for my strange looking lips, which to me seemed HUGE.  Reality is, no-one probably even noticed, until I started prattling on about it.

Anyway, by Saturday (above right) you can see my lips were looking a little darker as the scabs had formed.

Semi-permanent lips day three 2Here I am heading off to teach my Saturday morning Pump class, looking like I’m still wearing last night’s make-up.

When Sunday came, the scabs were on the move and you can see here (below right), some have come away already.  I did spend the day looking like this, so I would highly recommend anyone having this done, aim to have the treatment at a time that means days 4 and 5 will be days you can avoid seeing too many people. (When counting, day one is the day of the treatment)

Semi-permanent lips day fourYou have to keep applying your aftercare cream, but as the scabs form, it’s more tricky to apply it carefully without disturbing the scabs, which you MUST NOT knock, pick, or wipe off, before they are ready to come off naturally, as it will affect the look of the end result.

The great news is, by Monday all but a tiny bit of scab had gone (below left), so I was much more able to take my 2.5yr old to nursery without feeling like a circus performer.

Semi-permanent lips day fiveThat last little bit was gone in no time and I am now the proud owner of very beautiful lips, with zero effort.

I really couldn’t recommend it enough.  I love how they look already, so I’m excited to see what the final result will be in four weeks.

I will of course update you then, so keep a look out!

In the meantime, if you are reading this and you are in the UK (ideally the South) and you are planning to get some semi-permanent makeup done, I couldn’t recommend Helen at Evolution Skin Studios more.

Helen Porter of Evolution Skin StudiosShe was filming the day after seeing me, so you might even see her on the TV sometime soon.  Oh and just so you know, Helen is understandably a lover of semi-permanent make-up herself.  In this stunning picture of her, the only make-up she has actually applied is mascara.  She has semi-permanent eyebrows, eyeliner and lips.

Now, if that isn’t an advert for everyone to have it, then nothing is.

So, to summarise, my tips for you, if you have semi-permanent lip colour done are:

  1. Eat and drink something substantial before your treatment, as you won’t want to for a while after.
  2. Give everyone special a kiss, as you won’t be able to kiss them for a few days.
  3. Have ibuprofen to hand, as you may want to take some.
  4. Arrange your treatment so days 4 and 5 are days when you can avoid seeing too many people as you will look ridiculous.
  5. Try out your aftercare cream before applying it to the treated area, as it’s not fun if you have a bad reaction.
  6. Smooth aftercare cream on, don’t dab or pat, as it pulls the scabs off.
  7. Do your research. Don’t see just anyone!

As I said, I’ll be back to show you pics in four weeks, so you can see the final result, but in the meantime, if you are local and fancy boosting your confidence, reminding yourself how sexy you are and having a lot of fun along the way, you need to get yourself booked into a Foxy Burlesque dance beginners course.  For course dates click here. x

The little gem on your High Street!

Foxy Burlesque at Tunbridge Wells Vintage FeteTunbridge Wells Vintage Fete

The Vintage Clothes Fete

Foxy Burlesque at Tunbridge Wells Vintage Fete 2There was a Vintage Clothes Fete in Tunbridge Wells shopping centre a few days ago, so I headed over to take a look.

Timing wasn’t great though, I had a tired and therefore stroppy 2.5yr old and an 8mth old in a double buggy which surprise, surprise wouldn’t squeeze through between the stalls.  If I’d tried it would have been carnage.

My 8mth old son’s new party trick is sticking his arm out to grab anything close enough.  We would have had beautiful things flying everywhere. Gil Elvgren prints at Tunbridge Wells Vintage Fete

So, I left my long suffering friend with both our buggies and did a mad flit about, taking a few pictures and grabbing business cards, so I could look into the exhibitors afterwards.

I saw a beautiful wedding dress (above left), some fab accessories and jewellery and I was particularly pleased to see some framed Gil Elvgren prints as well (right).

It was lovely, but I had no time to browse.  But, one of the fliers I picked up was for the shop….

‘So Very’

So Very Red ShoesThey don’t have a website or any real web presence, only a Facebook page, which has nothing on it but contact details.

I was intrigued, so on a less challenging day, I hunted down their lovely little boutique, where I found lots of pretty things!

There are times in life, when you really really wish you had size 5 feet, and this was one of them. Black patent shoes at So Very Tunbridge Wells

These red (made for burlesque) beauties, were not the only ones that caught my eye. There was a pair of lovely black patent heels too (right), again size 5, damn it.

Looking at the wonderful clothes, there were lots of recognisable high end high street labels (Karen Millen, Per Una), but also some names which were new to me. Samantha Sung at So Very Tunbridge Wells

Samantha Sung, was new to me, but I have since discovered online, anyone picking up this dress (left), was getting an unbelievable bargain at just £55.00.  It most likely had an extra zero on the end when it was bought new.

I knew, I had to blog about this, so I had a chat with the lady in the shop.

I discovered that ‘So Very’ is, in fact, SO much more than just a beautiful boutique selling pre-loved clothes and accessories. It is actually, the genius idea of the wonderful local charity Hospice in the Weald.

Inside So Very Tunbridge WellsThey have many branded charity shops, but decided to try something a little different with ‘So Very’. Aiming to draw in people who may not think to browse their usual branded shops.

It opened right in the centre of Tunbridge Wells in November last year, so only six months old, but doing fantastically well, selling the top end items donated, so they are always offering high class high street and above.

Inside So Very Tunbridge Wells 2The great news is they have a long term lease, so they will be there for the foreseeable future, for us all to enjoy.

Ladies, if you are not local, it’s worth making the trip to see for yourself!

Shop ’til you drop, take home fabulous finds and know, to top it all off, every penny you spend, goes to an amazing charity, helping people and caring for them in their final days.

If you are lucky enough be the new owner of those glamourous, red, size 5 shoes, I’ll be expecting you in a Foxy Burlesque dance class very soon!  Next course dates have just been confirmed, so book yourself in, here!

Vintage Cocktail Craze!

Foxy Burlesque at Playboy Cub 1

Anything ‘Vintage’ is very on trend right now, but I only realised recently that this stretched to drinks as well.  In particular, cocktails.

On a very rare, but much needed girls night out in London recently, we had dinner and drinks at the Playboy Club in Old Park Lane.

Now, the bar at Playboy is not just any bar, it’s Salvatore Calabrese’s award winning bar, ‘Salvatore’.  He is the world’s leading cocktail expert and is affectionately known as ‘The Maestro’, so as you can imagine the cocktail menu is extensive.

Now I was rather ignorant of these facts, as I sat down to browse. Foxy Burlesque at Salvatore Cocktail Menu

It would be fair to say, I have a bit of a name for myself amongst family and friends for my rather expensive taste (within reason of course), but WOW!  I nearly fell off my seat when I saw that the cocktail I quite liked the sound of was £2,500.00!  Yes, I do have that decimal point in the correct place, that is indeed £2,500.00!!  See for yourself (right).

Now surely, my eyes were playing games with me?  Maybe that’s the price for an all night supply for a large table?

No, it’s the price for just one normal sized cocktail and crazier still, that one was a steal, in comparison to the next one which was £5,500.00 per cocktail!  Aptly named ‘Salvatore’s Legacy’.

It was not a surprise to then learn this £5,500.00 Vintage cocktail is a World Record breaker, for being THE most expensive cocktail, using spirits dating back to the time of the American Revolution.  Maybe ‘Antique’ cocktail, might be a more appropriate name?

If that’s not exciting enough, the world record attempt was quite an event and one which could never have been predicted.

A gentleman in the crowd ordered two ‘Salvatore Legacy’s’ and asked to look at the 1788 bottle of cognac to read the label, but as the bottle was passed to him, it smashed.  In fact we were told, it actually disintegrated due to age.

Foxy Burlesque at Playboy Salatore 2I can only imagine how awkward and embarrassing a moment that was and I bet there were a fair few in the crowd keen to grab a straw and get on there hands and knees to find out what a 1788 cognac tastes like.

What a story though and if you go to Salatore’s for a drink, have a look in the drinks display cabinet, where you will see the remains of the bottle (left).

To read more about the World Record attempt click here.

Anyway, I can assure you, my budget didn’t allow for such extravagant beverages and I had a very delicious and non-Vintage Mojito instead.

vintage-metal-sign-27868919It has, however, left me rather intrigued and I am planning to try a few Vintage Cocktails to find out what the Burlesque Divas of the past supped on.

Why not give them a go yourself?  Check out these 1930s and 1940s Cocktail Recipes

So I’m thinking, ‘Zombie’, then ‘Planters Punch’, followed by a ‘Pink Lady’.  What are you having?

I’m feeling confident that just one of them will prove that embracing the 1940’s is a wonderful thing to do.

Then maybe you’ll find yourself, donning your stockings and trying a bit of burlesque dancing too? 🙂

New Foxy Burlesque taster classes and course dates to be announced very soon, so watch this space.

Happy Vintage Cocktail drinking everyone! x