I started performing burlesque at age 55, and I am now a regular performer on the London and Brighton burlesque scene. I began to learn on a whim; my local newspaper was advertising a short 6-week burlesque course and I was looking for something which would be sociable and help my fitness, so I joined for that reason. After a second course, I started devising and developing my own acts and started performing as Pupin DeVert.
Most of my acts are ‘Neo-Burlesque’ which focuses on original ideas, a theme or a narrative. For example, my favourite act to perform is based on Pride and Prejudice, where I start the act as Elizabeth Bennet and then cut myself out of my corset with scissors to reveal a sort of androgynous Mr Darcy. I also enjoy doing some more traditional burlesque styles, especially with feather fans.
There are so many things I love about Burlesque; I love to feature my natural grey hair on stage, often as a ‘reveal’ from under a headdress or wig, as I find that the sudden reveal of my age can make people confront an ageist belief that Burlesque is only for youthful performers! I love coming up with original ideas, finding the perfect music, choreographing acts and practising dance moves, learning and getting inspiration from other performers, designing and making costumes and props (most of my costumes are self-made).
The sheer adrenaline rush of performing is addictive!
I especially like the social aspect of burlesque. I have made so many friends since I started while travelling and performing in different venues. I really enjoy talking to people after the show, especially older women who feel empowered to try it for themselves. I am often met by other ladies in their 40/50/60 who tell me how much they love seeing women of their age being portrayed as powerful and sexy, and that they would live to try it themselves, which I always encourage them to do.
In my free time, I also enjoy modelling in pin-up/boudoir shoots. Well, that started mainly as you need promotional photos when you want to apply for booking. At first, I found it much more daunting than performing and was very uncomfortable in front of the camera, but as I started to see more photos of myself on stage I learned to get used to, and even appreciate, how my body looked and to learn how to pose to the best advantage. I then made a conscious effort to practice photo poses and work with burlesque photographers such as Tigz Rice, and have been featured in some pin-up sites and magazines.
My next goal? I would love to model professionally, especially as there has been a breakthrough in the use of older/grey-haired models and I aim to follow this up when quarantine is lifted.
Do you have a story to tell? Would you like to share with us your unique journey through midlife? We want to hear from all the CrunchyLadies out there. Submit your personal tale from the second act of your life HERE.