Honeylulu is the epitome of neo-burlesque, but one obviously kicked up on performance enhancers. From the costumes to the physical props (including a giant-sized teacup in which she emerges) she is a living and breathing performer from the past. With historical accuracy and modern-day embellishment, her act brings crowds to her shows. You may see a gigantic handbag and lipstick, but Honeylulu's most perfect prop is her figure. Lush, full and perfectly constructed! Honey Lulu is truly a modern-day milk bath of burlesque. Yes, she can twirl them AND she eats fire!
HoneyLulu wrote me after reading a few of my snide comments on True Burlesque. She was puzzled and asked (from the perspective of a working performer in the business) if I LIKED burlesque. Of course I do!
I promptly asked HoneyLulu if she would agree to be profiled in the Contemporary wing of the Vintage Sleaze cyber Museum. After all, how often does one receive mail from an artist voted one of the top 50 burlesque performers in the world?
As neo-burlesque clubs spring up all across the world, surely one day HoneyLuLu will be a much admired role model for the next few generations, and she is already sharing her skills with others through performance and workshops. Honeylulu is a modern performer who has completely mastered an earlier skill.
HoneyLulu has more press than Murdoch…but much of it is in German or Italian. Let's translate! THIS is burlesque. Let's see what makes "The Queen of Strip Tea!" so steaming hot.
Q. As a performer of international scope, have you ever performed in the United States?
In 2007 I performed at Tease-O-Rama at the legendary Bimbo's 365 club in San Francisco. It was a wonderful experience. I had been performing just a couple of years and it was a great honor to be included in the line-up. I loved the great scale of the event and watching some of my favorite artists on stage, as well as discovering new ones. I loved talking to some of the legends such as Satan's Angel. The atmosphere was thrilling and you could really feel a sense of community and a shared passion for burlesque; it's an event made with love. I would love to go again.
Q. Where are you from originally, and how did you first learn about burlesque? Is it even CALLED burlesque in Germany?
I was born in Italy and lived there until I was 19. I then moved to London where I spent most of my adult life and which is what I call home these days. It was there that I discovered burlesque. I then started working the German variety circuit and that brought me where I am now. I met my husband in a theatre we were both working at and later I decided to move semi-permanently to Germany. We shall see where the future takes me!
I can't say exactly where I first heard of burlesque; becoming a burlesque performer was an organic process for me. I guess it all started with my love of all things vintage and a keen interest in subcultures. I think the first burlesque performance I saw live was Immodesty Blaize in 2003, in London.
It IS called burlesque in Germany; we have many talented performers living in and around Berlin. The scene is not as huge as in the US but it is very thriving!
Q. How long have you been dancing and performing?
I have been performing for about 7 years. I come from an art background and apart from dance classes I took as an adult, I am not classically trained. It has been a very interesting journey, never a dull moment! Since I started, the burlesque world has grown and evolved a lot, and it is really interesting to see changes in trends and attitudes.
Q. Who are your role models? In the States, we have our burlesque idols, are they the same in Europe?
I am inspired by strong women and the women who made it possible for us to be where we are now. I love performers like Blaze Starr and Billie Madley. I think today with the Web and Youtube, information is global and accessible to everyone, so that there is not much difference between burlesque fans and connoisseurs of different countries. I really like that.
Q. Do you come from a family of entertainers? I generally think of "fire eaters" as coming from a vaudeville or stage past…were other members of your family "in the business?"
Not really anyone in my family has ever been an entertainer though my family has always encouraged me to be myself and pursue my dreams. Many people in my family have been working at sea so I guess that’s where I got my love of travel and seeing the world, though from a stage rather than a boat.
Q. Have you ever had mistakes on stage? Wardrobe malfunctions? Accidental fire?
God no, I’ve never caused an accidental fire and hope I never will! Though once I did set the fire alarm off in a small venue and the audience loved it, they went absolutely mad! I’ve never had any major wardrobe malfunctions to date and I have never lost a pastie, which is quite a common one. But once I had a bottle of champagne pop open before planned and the bubbly liquid hit me right in the eye, which I couldn’t keep open anymore; thankfully my number was nearly finished but I did have to finish it with a prolonged wink. I had to laugh so much!
Q. Are the venues you play professional, reputable and such? Burlesque here has a tawdry history, one I take delight in pointing out as the stories are so interesting. Can you recall the worst places you played and share some stories?
I must say I’ve been quite lucky with the venues I performed at. I’ve always been paid and never had much trouble. In general though, I find that the more chic (and pretentious) the venues are, the worst are the facilities for the performers. I’ve had beautiful dressing rooms but also had to change in stairwells and fire exits where balancing a suitcase full of costumes has been a huge challenge. Once I was performing at a company function. The CEO of said company had demanded I tone down my act and keep my bra on (which I obliged) as he thought my number was too sexual. But when he was backstage before I went onstage - never met the guy before - he slapped my ass. That kind of sexism and hypocrisy drives me mad! Another time, the performers for a private function were left a generous tip by the client, but our agent utterly refused to share it with us.
Q. Do you make your own costumes?
I mix it up really. Mostly I have made to measure pieces, as well as a few gems of vintage costumes. I love the idea of bringing back to the stage another showgirl’s costume from the 40s or the 50s, I always wonder what interesting stories come with that costume! To date I haven’t been able to trace any of the personal histories but I’m working on it. I also customize and embellish most of my g-strings and bras, and make some bits and bobs. I can spend long nights sticking rhinestones to shoes or panties. I find this very rewarding and rather cathartic.
HONEYLULU WEBSITE IS HERE