According to Sapphire Rox, the creator of Suffolk-based burlesque outfit Agent Burlieque, that is.
The gorgeous Sapphire isn’t afraid to speak her mind, championing the cause of the plus size woman and bringing the delicious fun and freedom of burlesque to the East Anglian audience. I caught up with Sapphire and asked her to tell me more.
For those of us who might not know, what is burlesque about?
“Burlesque has many different faces. Mainly it’s an art form used to express a theme along with feminity; done well it is a tantalising expression of the female (and more regularly male) form.
“At Agent Burlieque we like to work with performers who have highly expressive themes which have audiences on the edge of their seats. Burlesque appeals to women on a grand scale as it inspires and empowers them.”
What was it that got you fired up to start your own troupe?
“I’m a Londoner born and bred and moving to Suffolk to raise my young family meant that I was leaving the creative scene in London.
“I expected Suffolk tohave an established burlesque scene and was blown away when I couldn’t find burlesque at London standard. I took it upon myself to do something about it, and that’s how Agent Burlieque started. We’re a burlesque troupe and also a booking agent, an events company that holds hen nights and workshops.”
The outfits are amazing – where do you get them from?
“Thank you! Each performer carefully selects costumes that reflect the themes of their acts; and of course they need to be easily removable! We all scout high and low for pieces, in vintage markets and car boot fairs, burlesque swap shops and high street stores. Then we customise! Burly girls are known to stay up all night carefully rhinestoning and glitzing up outfits, trimming with beads and making props by hand.”
Agent Burlieque is made up of women from many backgrounds – can you tell us a bit about them?
“The core troupe of Agent Burlieque changes, as does the burlesque scene. We have around 40 performers from all different walks of life, most of them with day jobs. We currently have a call centre worker, a hairdresser, a fire fighter, a tattoo artist, a mum, a prison officer and a stay at home father!”
Let’s be honest – women who are big, curvy or fat are derided constantly in the media at the moment. Do you think that burlesque can help a bigger woman feel more confident in a fat-phobic world?
“Isn’t it terrible? That we as humans are made to feel constantly terrible about ourselves? And it’s not about being different; we all know size 16 is average in the UK and yet we are made to feel singled out; that we are to be ashamed of our body shape. Burlesque fights that to the very core. The following burlesque has I think is largely down to the sheer love of the human body and the empowerment found by both men and women when they watch burlesque.
“Burlesque has the ability to transform current thinking about body shape and what we should look like.”
What’s your take on the way fat people are bullied by the media?
“You know I really am up for celebrating curves, but also thin people, gay men, everyone. None of us should feel ashamed of who we are simply because the advertising agencies want to make a mint out of us. To be ashamed gives the diet, media and fashion industries a financial gain.
“There is a different way to live and that is to accept and celebrate who you are as an individual; and sometimes it can be hard to do that. But find burlesque and you will find you are happy just the way you are.
“I think it is the only industry I know of that can positively transform the media’s harmful message about the female form. After shows both men and women thank me for bringing them peace…peace that they are just right however and whoever they are.”
Do you have any advice for curvy girls on looking and feeling fabulous?
“Yes!! Show it off! Be confident in the way you dress, don’t hide. Put your red lippy on, do your hair, wear high-waisted skirts and show of that backside! Put on your heels when you go out and paint a ‘look at me’ expression on your face.
“We’ve been told by the media that people only want to look at us when we are thin and model like, but we want to look at them because they are confident and happy in themselves, not because they are thin.
“Once you start showing off your curves instead of hiding them under loose clothes you will also attract the positive attention you deserve and you’ll be sending out the positive message to other curvy people that curves are sexy!”
Lastly – do you have any plans for performances in Essex, especially Chelmsford? Would you be available for booking in the area?
“We are due to perform all over Essex and would very much like to do a show in Chelmsford soon.
“As well as our shows, burlesque hen nights and workshops we also perform at birthday parties, weddings, festivals, vintage fairs, pubs, clubs and bars.”
If you would like to know more about booking Agent Burlieque for an event or would like to know about training or performing please visit www.agentburlieque.com
NB: This interview was scheduled to appear in the March issue of Inspired Essex magazine, but as that didn’t get published, I didn’t want it to go to waste!