Creativity is a need, a choice and a process.
We are inspired by countless things: people we’ve met, places we’ve lived in or dreamed of, songs, artworks – even a quote from a book or the fantasy character we loved as kids. To create something means to be open to new things, contamination and contradictions. It is a process of construction and destruction at the same time.
I’ve experienced it many times while writing this blog, writing books, taking photos, drawing, dancing. I failed countless times and succeeded some, loving every step of the way. I just can’t help creating stuff and expressing myself 🙂
I was lucky enough to be chosen as the Italian ambassador for the Creative Trail project by Nikon. It is an amazingly interesting project involving many influencers around Europe. We have been asked to interview a person that has inspired us and influenced our creative path.
The person I have chosen is Miss Tempest Rose: amazing performer, teacher and show producer with her company House of Burlesque and also my teacher for the past months.
I love what she does and the way she does it. I love how empowered and inspired I felt class after class, and how she pushed me and the other girls to achieve the best result possible without losing our uniqueness. I also really like the powerful messages she sends out through her teaching and her shows, about loving yourself, loving your body, be in control and play by your rules.
Last but not least, she’s a charming, smart and interesting woman and spending some time with her was so much fun.
I first sneaked into the changing room before her weekly show at the Sway speakeasy, then had a lovely dinner with her, chatting about her experience as a successful burlesque performer and producer. I have used the super versatile Nikon D5500 DSLR to take the pictures you see in this post.
Enjoy this interview and be inspired and charmed by Miss Tempest Rose, as I was.
How did you get involved with burlesque?
It was a happy accident. In 2007 I was studying musical theatre and was asked by a friend to audition for The Kitten Club, a British burlesque group. I thought it was something great to do in between the acting castings as it would have allowed me to still sing, dance and create stuff.
I loved it and, after performing for one year, I realized I really wanted to go for it. I was very lucky because at the same time I met Lola LaBelle, another performer. She had just come up with the idea of creating a company that would be a one-stop-shop for burlesque: a production house, a boutique and an academy. She asked me to become her business partner and a year later, when she moved abroad, she left the company to me.
Has anyone influenced or inspired your choices?
It was very inspiring to be in a world packed of women doing things, running companies, starting their successful businesses.
Another thing that inspired me a lot was seeing people being allowed to create work. In theatre the people creating the shows were incredibly far from you as a performer so it was amazing to see so many productions made and created by performer like me, who just said ‘let’s do this, let’s put on a show’.
“It was very inspiring to be in a world packed of women doing things, running companies, starting their successful businesses.”
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
Since burlesque is an industry related to body image, aesthetics and sexiness it can be a challenge to always remember that the point is to show yourself the way you want, not the way people want. I always want to express to the audience this idea of portraying your sexuality not in the way we’re told to – by men, by the media – but the way we choose.
“The point is to show yourself the way you want, not the way people want.”
How about the audience?
I think my job is also to educate the audience, that means giving them what they want but at the same time showing them a point of view they hadn’t considered before. That’s probably what makes House of Burlesque different from other productions. Burlesque is not just about taking a beautiful costume off, is a very broad art form that includes comedy, singing, dancing and much more, and we want to show it.
As women, we live in a world where we struggle with body shaming and sexism. How do you think burlesque responds to this?
I think burlesque is interesting and dynamic because it is not dictated by the male gaze. That’s what makes it unique, and different from strip-tease. The performer is the character of the playground that she designs, and has the complete control on how she shows her body to the audience.
I think this power of designing your own sexuality has a lot to do with the struggle about how women bodies are seen and portrayed. Doing such things is important because if we’re not careful we’ll end up in a world where every woman showing her sexual side is considered problematic. Womens’ sexiness should be seen as a positive thing, not as a degrading or negative one.
“If we’re not careful we’ll end up in a world where every woman showing her sexual side is considered problematic. Womens’ sexiness should be seen as a positive thing, not as a degrading or negative one. “
Do you have any icon or role model?
Gypsy Rose Lee is my inspiration. In a time where women weren’t allowed to choose what to do with their lives, she decided to play by her own rules. She was a great performer with a fantastic knowlege of the audience’s mind, and she was also a very smart business woman.
I also admire anyone that uses his platform to try to make a difference and to do something meaningful, to send out a message and try to change the world.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
The most important realization I had as a performer was that I am replaceable.
In an industry like burlesque it’s easy to become diva-ish: you step on the stage and people adore you, but you are in the middle of a very competitive industry, you always have to remember that and work accordingly.
You made a career following your inspiration and creativity. What is your tip for someone who wants to do the same?
The first tip is: do your reasearch. Especially if you come in an industry that’s been around for long, expect that most has been covered already. Understand and respect what’s been done before you, and understand your audience: if you know what people are looking for it’s easier to create something successful.
Also, you need to remind yourself is that the struggle is part of the process. Not everything has to be perfect. And nothing life changing happens straight away.
“The struggle is part of the process. Not everything has to be perfect. And nothing life changing happens straight away.”
Thank you, Miss Tempest Rose. I loved this interview!
Post in collaboration with Nikon.