Ladies, gentlemen and everything in between… welcome to the world of Neo-Burlesque. Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday we can enter a world of freedom, femininity and freaky fun at Zum Starken August @zumstarkenaugust where Burlesque performers* show us what they got, promoting inclusiveness, diversity and body-positivity with a snap of their finger. No pictures please – what happens at Zum Starken August stays at Zum Starken August. You will have to go and check it out for yourself! We have not only fallen in love with the place, team and performers of the bar on Schönhauser Allee in Berlin (you cannot miss it – follow the blue bunny @scottybunny hopping around) but have also met with three of the glitter-pasty-professionals to have a chat. Please meet the power house showgirls Lexy Nightcat @lexynightcat, Felicity Felicis @felicity_felicis, Dotti Moscati @dotti_moscati and learn about their way into the scene, how they found liberation on stage, what advice they would give to beginners and let them inspire you with their stories. And yes, it also gets political.
„I want to destroy the social constructs that women are imprisoned by, I want to be sexual and I want to be respected“ -Felicity Felicis
Whenand why did you become a Burlesque performer? FELICITY: Last month was my 3rd year as the Rock ‘n’ Roll Showgirl. I fell into Burlesque during an infatuation with the Vaudeville, circus and the discovery of Bettie Page and Tempest Storm. I had always wanted to be a Rockstar but honestly, I was pretty shy and not so musically talented, regardless of my theatre training and drum lessons. So as the years passed, I grew in confidence and started to care less about what people thought of me, I decided that I would be a Rockstar at stripping. And I have never looked back.
LEXY: My graduation was on 6 September 2014 at the legendary Bassy Cowboy Club, hosted by Schönheitstanz Berlin. From the beginning I was the entertainer of the family, the stage really attracted me. I always wanted to spread joy and animate to have fun. To pass on some of my joy of life. Acting was always too serious for me, learning foreign lyrics, I miss something. At Neo Burlesque you can get fully involved, put your ideas into practice, be creative. Fortunately, eroticism is no longer the focus, you don’t dance for the man, you dance for yourself. I never see myself as an object. And I don’t even notice that you’re almost naked.
DOTTI: I performed in my first Burlesque show in July 2017 at the Dirrty Cabaret which was a show run by one of my Burlesque moms, Elena Gabrielle. I had already been a part of the cabaret scene for about a year because I was involved in the Full Moon Cabaret. Every time I had a show with Full Moon, I would watch the Burlesque acts and be in awe of these women and their confidence. At the time I was studying to be a clown and during that time I met my other burlesque mom, Good Ness Gracious. She had reached out in one of the clown groups and wanted to meet other clowns and then she invited me to Dirrty and I met Elena. They both convinced me that I could be a clown who does burlesque! It didn’t need be something classic and vintage, burlesque could be silly and crazy. They both helped me create my first act and helped me get bookings, and it hasn’t stopped since.
What do you feel on stage? What drives you as a Burlesque artist? F: When I am on stage I feel like electricity. I feel powerful and truly at home. Growing up as a very shy and anxious person I would never have believed this would be my career. Being on stage, being good at what I do and enjoying my sexuality is incredibly liberating. My performance art is driven by being an entertainer and thrilling the audience. I am driven by my creativity and my desire to try weird and wonderful things. But mostly, I am driven by promoting sex positivity and body positivity, I want to destroy the social constructs that women are imprisoned by, I want to be sexual and I want to be respected.
L: I feel pure happiness, I am at home on stage. But I could easily do without the stage fright, but that will probably never happen. Adrenalin and creativity drive me, sometimes even my friends, when I have become more lazy again. The audience pays my real income to me. If I could entertain them well, I am satisfied and want to do it again.
D: I’ve been performing in theater since I was little so being on stage feels AMAZING! What drives me is to be on that stage and be the best performer I can be. When I lived in Chicago, I couldn’t get cast in anything because of my size. That whole experience of body shaming is what drives me to create the acts that I do create and perform. Most of them have a theme of being body positive and loving yourself for who you are.
„In a time where Facebook and Instagram want to police our bodies and censor our words as woman and as humans, nothing is more satisfying than showing what your mama gave you“ -Dotti Moscati
What does Burlesque mean to you? F: To me, Burlesque means art. It means passion, filth and sexual liberation. It allows us to have a publicly erotic moment. It means entertainment. And it means fantasy. And I will give you the best damn fantasy you could imagine.
Lexy: Anything! For me, the most authentic way of expressing myself. Women’s power, independence, creativity, fun in life, friendship, equality, everyone is welcome and finds their place.
D: Burlesque to me means Freedom. Being free to create the art I want to create, being free to perform in places I want to be in, being free to say the messages I want to share, and being free to show my body with no judgement. In a time where Facebook and Instagram want to police our bodies and censor our words as woman and as humans, nothing is more satisfying than showing what your mama gave you on a huge stage to a big crowd loosing their shit for you. It’s like a big F you to the man.
How would you describe Neo Burlesque? F: Neo Burlesque is the revival and progression of traditional Burlesque performance. It allows for a huge amount of self expression, we have the opportunity to use our bodies to challenge politics and stereotypes through the art of striptease.
Lexy: Wikipedia has a great, detailed description of what Neo Burlesque stands for today. Sexism has disappeared, fortunately! I would define Neo Burlesque for me personally in such a way that it is a fantastic form to live out one’s own femininity and creativity. Without feeling like an object, you always decide for yourself what to reveal and how much and if at all. I never feel naked, I myself am sometimes surprised how little I wear after all (smiles)
D: Neo Burlesque by definition means “new” or “updated” which I guess is what I do. Since I came into the scene I’ve never done a “classic” act, it’s beautiful to watch but it never felt right to me as a performer.
What is the best thing about Burlesque for you? F. The best part of Burlesque is that I can be my complete self on that stage. I am an incredibly sexual person, I have a filthy mouth and a filthy mind. I love to be naked and I love to be erotic. The stage allows me that space.
Lexy; I can give free play to my creativity, constantly develop myself further and discover new things.
D: The best part of Burlesque for me would have to be the people I get to meet, that places I get to travel, and the pretty costumes I get to wear haha! In all seriousness I have had the privilege to travel to some amazing places and meet some incredible human beings. For example, last year I got booked to perform in Warsaw Poland, and I got to see where my grandfather lived and grew up before he had to flea to the USA. I never got to meet him but the experience of being in his home place helped me feel closer to him and I got a lot of information for my family. This would have never happened if I wasn’t doing Burlesque.
„It is a fantastic form to live out one’s own femininity and creativity. Without feeling like an object, you always decide for yourself what to reveal and how much and if at all“ -Lexy Nightcat
What is the Burlesque community like? D: Currently in Berlin, the scene is sadly abit split down the middle. There has been a lot of online issues happening that one could look into if they wanted. On the positive side, I’m lucky enough to have the friends that I have in the scene. A lot of us newbies realized we’re all on the same plank together, and we have a facebook chat group that we use to turn to each other in times of need, or if we have a costume question, or need feedback on a photo or video, or even if we just want to bitch about men and the patriarchy ha! We support each other a lot.
F: It can be a really beautiful community. A large amount of my very close friends are artists. We are all trying to help each other learn and grow. I feel very much at home around other performers. I mean, I walk into a room, there are tits, dicks, vaginas and buttholes dotted around. There are not many jobs where you are that intimate with a person that quickly. The support I receive from other artists is huge and in turn, the support I give back is immense. As mostly independent artists, who do spend a lot of time alone, travelling and creating, we understand each other and that builds amazing international friendships.
What advice do you want to give beginners? F: Trust your instincts. Be passionate and be driven. Remember, we are entertainers, we perform for our audience, not for our peers. Don’t get caught up in that. It is our duty to keep this art alive, so be responsible and respectful to fellow artists. Kindness goes a long way. And finally, immerse yourself into the arts, go to shows, stage kitten at local events, network network network!
Lexy: Inform yourself well about the scene, watch many performers, go to different shows, attend Burlesque classes. And then forget everything and find yourself. If you want to be successful, you can learn many standards, but if you really have something to say, stay true to yourself, find your uniqueness. Only then you will really stay in their minds and not be exchangeable like many others. And don’t despair at the beginning, for example if you don’t find a niche for yourself, just invent a new one. Tip: If you have difficulties in creating your act, costume or music, you can’t get ahead and everything doesn’t feel right or fitting… it may be that you are emulating or copying someone else. Always try to be faithful to yourself, then it will run by itself. Of course, trying it is like studying, testing a lot, but you will notice when it clicks and you have found your stage character.
D: Go to as many shows as you can, watch as many different styles of burlesque as you can so you know what style you like, introduce yourself to people in the scene, take classes from those people if they offer them. You don’t have to be pushy but if you’re nice and if you’re confident, they will remember you. Take it from me, being a nice person can get you far and you’ll get further by taking classes because you’re learning from those already doing it.
Check out where to see them live or come by Zum Starken August to dive into what else the Neo Burlesque playground has to offer. And support our girls and book them for your next event, they will leave you in awe for sure!