Fleur de Tease is the most top-notch burlesque troupe in New Orleans and has achieved that status with their cast of impeccable dancers that create elaborate themed shows. One such performer, Bella Blue, joined in 2008 and has become one of the most popular performers in the city and performs the world over; even creating the School of Burlesque to teach her talent to other women. She also hosts her own monthly show called the Dirty Dime Peepshow that pushes the boundaries on creatively teasing an audience with nudity.
WYAT: How did you begin doing burlesque?
Bella: Doing burlesque really started as a fl uke. I had studied dance practically my whole life, starting out in dancing school as a child and then really beginning to take it seriously around age 7. I never really saw myself as a burlesque performer. I never thought I would have the nerve to do it. When I was a teenager I used to sneak into The Rollaway Lounge underneath Rock n' Bowl on Tulane Avenue to watch burlesque shows and mainly it was because I was so jealous of how brave they were! Fast forward eight years and two kids later, I found myself in conversation with Trixie Minx. She had a similar ballerina background as well and we connected on the level. One thing led to the next and then there was an audition and a month later, I did my fi rst show. It was the start of something that has become my career and passion.
WYAT: Did you think that it would turn into a career one day?
Bella: Absolutely not! I was just happy to be performing and doing it on the side. I was working as a dental assistant and trying to get my own dance studio off the ground at the time and saw burlesque as something to do as a creative outlet. I never thought I'd necessarily be good at it--much less make a career out of it!
WYAT: When did you start your School of Burlesque class?
Bella: The classes started as an experiment. I had a dance studio on the Westbank and it was summertime. Gigs were slow and I needed some extra cash. I decided to hold a one-time workshop at my studio and see what happened. I advertised it on Myspace for two weeks. Thirteen people showed up to the fi rst class. I couldn't believe it. I was amazed and so happy at the same time. At the end of the class I asked if they wanted to do it again next week and they all said yes. And they brought their friends. And so on, and so forth. It just grew from there. A few months later, I moved the classes over to Crescent Lotus Dance Studio and that's where they've been ever since. That's how the New Orleans School of Burlesque was born!
WYAT: How far along is the permanent school?
Bella: The permanent school is going to be located in the Treme. It really all depends on how fast the house I am currently living in sells. Once it sells, it's about nine months to one year away from being functional and ready to go.
WYAT: What kind of events have you performed for?
Bella: Anything and everything! I love that my job can take me performing at Mardi Gras balls, fetish events, swingers conventions, music festivals, burlesque festivals, corporate events (like an oral surgery convention), and the list goes on. Every time I say: "This is the coolest gig ever," there's always another one that comes along right behind it that is even cooler!
WYAT: What is different about performing at Voodoo Fest as opposed to small, intimate clubs?
Bella: Well, for one, our sets usually happen during the daytime! Doing burlesque in full on afternoon sunlight always adds a challenging factor to your act! You have to be able to maintain the mystery and be enticing. And sometimes it's cold! There's been a few years where it was FREEZING! Running back and forth to the dressing room and doing costume changes in nothing but pasties and a g-string always makes for interesting memories! The thing that always remains the same though whether I'm performing at Voodoo or in a club is the amazing audience. As long as I am making them happy--I'll take my clothes off anywhere! (even if it's cold!)
WYAT: What bands do you want to see at Voodoo this year?
Bella: I defi nitely want to check out AWOLNATION, Borgore, all my friends in Preservation Hall and The Bingo! Show (of course!), and Skrillex (I can't lie--I love a little dubstep in my life from time to time).