How To Become a Burlesque Dancer, Burlesque Performer, Burlesque Artist....
How To Become a Burlesque Dancer, Burlesque Performer, Burlesque Artist…. 1024 898 Vixen DeVille

How To Become a Burlesque Dancer, Burlesque Performer, Burlesque Artist….

How To Become a Burlesque Dancer, Burlesque Performer, Burlesque Artist….

Maybe you’ve seen some pictures, recently saw a show, or have been a fan of burlesque for years but always secretly wished it was you on stage. Whatever piqued your interest, you’re here… wondering if this seed of an idea can become fully fledged reality.

The answer to that is, YES – it absolutely can!

From those of you looking for a hobby to improve body confidence, or to add some fun and sparkle to your life, to those with stronger intentions of turning this beautiful art form into a new career – this guide will give you the necessary steps to successfully support you on your way.

Over the years I’ve witnessed my students transform into international award-winning burlesque performers. I’ve seen them grow their own troupes and produce their own shows. I’ve seen how burlesque has provided them with a supportive community and the new found confidence to enable them to make drastic, positive changes in both their personal and professional lives. (You can check out some of the most inspiring and moving stories of my students in my book, “Vixen’s Unleashed”) – So let’s get you started on YOUR journey.


If this is all totally new to you, you’ve never danced or even performed in any medium before, I recommend taking an introductory burlesque class first to get a feel for it.

Taking a one-off introductory class such as my “Unleash Your Inner Vixen” either in-person or online means you can get a feel for the teacher’s vibe and style before you commit to their longer term course.

Watching YouTube videos doesn’t really count. Yes you might be able to pick up some technique, but taking an actual class gives you the opportunity to gain personal feedback, as well as a chance to plug in with your burlesque community, both by creating a rapport with the teacher and by making connections with the other students.


GO SEE SOME SHOWS!! We want to get you familiar with the venues and performers in your area, as well as the virtual shows that may be running online, so that you have an idea of where you will be performing, who you will be working with and the vibe of the different shows around. This research will get you even more connected to your community and give you a head start in knowing where best to submit yourself once you’re ready to perform.

This research also gives you a chance to check out the standards and styles of acts currently being performed, which is great not only as inspiration, but also as education on what has already been created and to maybe avoid when creating your first act so that you can stay as unique as possible.


My full act development course, “Permission To Play” can be taken IN PERSON in Los Angeles or anywhere ONLINE Designed for bodies of all ages abilities, shapes and sizes, this course will guide you through my own step-by-step process for creating your personally tailored solo act. The course culminates with the opportunity to perform as a debut guest star either in your hometown or in a professional Burlesque show in Los Angeles.


In order to get your act booked you need to promote yourself! For that to happen you need promotional materials that do you and your act justice.

Studio photos or stills of you performing on stage, plus video footage of your act are both needed not only to send to producers and bookers to pitch yourself for a show, but will be requested from you by the producer in order to promote the show you get booked for.

Hire a professional photographer or videographer, to help you get materials that sparkle! If you’re doing “Permission to Play” with me in Los Angeles then your debut show includes footage and show stills as part of your package.


It’s not who you know but who knows YOU! Social media is not only used heavily in order to promote shows and events but also used in the burlesque community to post castings and request show submissions.

If you’re avoiding Facebook or Instagram now’s the time to create a new account under your burlesque persona ( for my article on How To Choose Your Burlesque name click here )

Being active on social media is also important not just in order to secure bookings by finding castings and showing potential bookers your style and vibe. Social media is also crucial in order to support and promote shows once you’re booked. Producers expect you to do your fair share of promoting the show and bringing an audience so an active and supportive social media account is vital.

STEP SIX – GET EXPERIENCE (and be professional)

Once you’ve performed your debut, you need to get a few performances under your belt to really get your act smooth and polished. When starting out, try to perform as much as possible to ‘earn your stripes’, to get your act fine tuned, and to build your reputation within the community.

This will mean working a number of shows for free, before you can start demanding higher levels of pay. Submit to newcomer festivals, volunteer to ‘Kitten’ for a producer’s show, but always, always treat your gig as a professional engagement regardless of size of venue or amount of pay. You don’t want to get a reputation for the wrong reasons. When starting out it can be more valuable to do a performance free of charge in return for experience, contacts, footage and professional promotional photos.


Now that you’ve got the foundation of your first act created and performed, and you’re starting to get known in the community, this is the time to build on that foundation.

Start to build on and explore other performance skills; chair dance, aerial arts, flow arts, fire dancing, juggling, magic, other dance styles, musical instruments. Find something that lights you up which you can start to incorporate into your acts to make them even more uniquely yours.

Add to your act creation skills – learn how to embellish and create custom costume pieces, prop making, sound editing, all these skills will add to your self expression and creativity when developing your next act.

You can find information on my supplementary training including learning to eat fire, beginners fire fan classes, feather fan technique and burlesque costume creation here.


Most producers will hire a performer to perform at least two acts in their show so in order to become more bookable you will need to have at least two solid (preferably contrasting) acts in your repertoire. Make sure to get all your promotion in line for your second act as well – get it filmed, photographed and get some great studio shots for poster and flyer use. Many of my students will book me for a single private session for feedback on an act they are developing or to use as a consultation to develop new ideas. Once you’re in the community you can also use your peers as sounding boards to try out new ideas.

Now that you have two solid acts, a reputation, a growing social media fan base and some stage experience, you’re ready to go book those higher paying gigs. Download my PDF on How To Get Paid Gigs.

To book a free consultation with me to discuss how you can best make a start on your burlesque journey click here.

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Do you have a festival Act?



What I DO have….
….is a number of acts which I have performed as part of a Festival.

I consider them to be of, “festival level” standard, but they were never, “created for a festival”, and I strongly feel that it’s harmful to make a distinction between creating an act for a festival submission and creating any other act you plan to perform.

This is a question a lot of students will come to me with ..

“I think I’m ready to create a festival act, what should I do?” 

That’s problem number one. The question should be rephrased to:

 “I think I’m ready to apply for a festival what should I do?”

Meaning that you already have an act you’ve created from the heart which you feel is now ready to be showcased at festival level – how should you go about making the best application and making that act as festival ready as possible?

As soon as you start creating an act for ANYONE EXCEPT YOURSELF then you’re losing the artistry. 

You begin to create to the specifications of the receiver rather than the desire of the creator.

The act becomes clinical, sterile. You become robotic rather than human. Surely the huge draw to art is the humanity behind it.

I went 13 years as a Burlesque performer without performing a solo act in a festival. I put this down to a number of factors. First, I was unaware of any festivals outside of the UK and wasn’t really interested in traveling. Second, I thought that “festival” automatically meant “competition” and I was not in a place where I wanted to compete. I wanted to perform and entertain and not be judged by a panel of ‘experts’.

So Why DID I want to perform in a festival? I wanted to travel…I wanted to connect to the rest of the Burlesque community, I wanted to share my art with that community and experience theirs in return, and yes, being a teacher, I felt the need to prove that my art was worthy of festival quality and to demonstrate that I have, and continue to, practice what I preach.

My first festival I decided to go with “what will be different” and decided that submitting a ‘variety act’ was a safe choice with a higher chance of being selected. I chose an act which I had been performing for 8 years (also a safe choice). I spruced up the costume and added a couple of more moves to make it ‘festival ready’.

But this was never an act that I created ‘for a festival’.

More recently, the act which I performed for Arizona Burlesque Festival 2019 started off essentially as an in-joke between myself and some LA audience regulars. I only debuted it 6 months earlier, I’d only performed it on stage 3 times. I created it because it amused ME, it lit ME up! It was very much removed from the typical acts that I perform, but the audience reaction when I’ve performed it has been amazing and that, alone, is proof that it’s worthy of festival inclusion.

Regardless of whether I’m working with beginners or seasoned pros, my goal is always to help you create an act that comes from the heart, an act which moves you emotionally when you perform it, that is theatrically spectacular on stage and worthy of audience attention. If you have all those elements then you have a festival act.

Remember .. your act, whether performing for a small dive bar, a TV appearance, a private gig, or high profile festival, has got to be first and foremost, FOR YOU!!! If you aren’t loving your art, if you aren’t desperate to share your art… then WE the audience won’t love it and we won’t be desperate to see it.

Please yourself first, the buyers are a bonus. 

If you missed my article on “What’s Your Three?” check that out here –  you shouldn’t feel the need to partake in festivals “just because everyone else does” whatever decisions you make in life, be sure to have your three reasons why!!

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What’s Your Three?


I recently got caught up in a project that made me miserable and unhappy.

Huge amounts of self-doubt, high levels of stress, and this surging anger which I realised was not directed at the person running the project…. but AT MYSELF… for having agreed to doing the whole thing in the first place.


I hadn’t been in that situation since another ‘Project From Hell’ which I fell into around 2008  – OVER 10 YEARS AGO!!!!

I thought I’d learnt my lesson!! 

…Was this project paying me thousands of dollars? No!

…Was this project getting me ridiculous amounts of exposure? No!

…Did I owe this person anything? NO!

…So what the hell? 

Here I am wasting hours of my time, and stress and worry on a project that isn’t even emotionally important to me. It’s not my Solo Show, it’s not my book launch, it’s not my upcoming tour …

….and it’s literally affecting my mental health and daily emotional state!

When it was all over, I was so thankful that it was, in fact, temporary, that I have now reminded myself to be more aware of being sucked into doing things that really ARE NOT worth my time and energy… but was also painfully aware that


That what had been my, ‘temporary situation’, is actually some people’s daily existence.

This toxic, unbalanced, emotionally abusive working relationship that I’d found myself in, is some people’s 9-5pm, some people’s long term friendships, personal relationships and worse – the person you come home to every day.

My first year of college I remember saying to my mum I had found the secret to happiness…  (in hind sight, what I meant was, I’d found a way to be less indecisive.)



It originally stemmed from constantly making the decision whether or not to take a trip into central London since, as a totally broke student, I could barely afford the train fare. If I had three reasons to make the trip then I would go, because if one of the reasons fell through, I always had two back-ups to make the trip worth it.

Seems basic, even childish, but weirdly enough EFFECTIVE when testing the theory elsewhere in my life.

It would help shift the mind from thinking ‘I have to’ to ‘I want to’ during those times that I found myself in a work situation or event where I would start resenting being there.

However shitty the situation – I didn’t ‘have to’ be there, I ‘wanted’ to be there I had my three reasons and I had not been forced to, I had made the choice.

Once those three reasons have gone… done.

And that’s what happened with the project – any reason I may have had for taking on the project, had faded away during development  – and that’s when you have to say, we’re done here!

So much of what we do on a daily basis can be out of habit, out of imagined pressure or responsibility, or because it’s just become the norm.

Take a moment to look around at your everyday actions however large or small.

What you eat for breakfast,

                     …who you hang out with,

                            …what you chose to do with your free time,

                                  …where you choose to work,

                                        …how many times you check Facebook.


Do you HAVE to do it it? Or do you WANT to do it?


So much of what I love about burlesque comes form the absolute ability to please yourself.

There’s nothing that you HAVE to do when performing burlesque, you do what you WANT to, and for those that are in the process of cutting out the ‘have to’s from their life, it’s an amazing way to equalise the balance.

After a day of dealing with the ‘Project From Hell’, I can go on stage, in the costume I love, move to the music I love, expressing whatever emotion I want to express and leave the stage purged.

“Project from hell??? ….WHAT project from hell???”

I’d love to hear from you about ways you’re cutting your ‘have to’s out of you life or way you’re able to please yourself to equal the balance – Click the link and join the discussion on my Facebook group

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Don’t Give A F*ck

The Art of Not Giving a F*ck

I recently came across a bunch of thought-provoking articles by Mark Manson, one of which totally fits in with a lot of what I teach in my intro class “Unleash Your Inner Vixen” and keep touching on during my, “Permission To Play” course –  “The Art of NOT GIVING A F*CK” … it’s a great read:


Apparently we only have a limited amount of ‘F*CKs to give’, so let’s stop wasting them on what others will think about us, and start using them on the things we are passionate about!!

Embrace our true callings and take a risk on DOING, BEING and ACHIEVING those things we secretly know we really want to DO and BE and, underneath it all, ALREADY ARE!

You will hear me repeatedly say in class, “Don’t worry about getting it right, don’t worry about making a fool of yourself, don’t worry that you’re not ‘being sexy’, don’t worry that you’re going to F*CK UP!” When you stop worrying, you become free, and start to play, and create, and truly be!

All of those f*cks are about others’ thoughts, opinions, standards, (all of which are in your imagination anyway)… learn to NOT GIVE A F*CK about THEM .. because

YOU DO give a f*ck about YOURSELF

…about YOUR passions,

                            …YOUR goals,

                          …YOUR enjoyment of life,

                               …YOUR feelings of fulfillment and..

having no regrets on your death bed!

Go do the thing that lights you up because it matters to YOU!!

If you’re loving this vibe and need some more inspiration today, head on over here for some musings on the secret to happiness and always having your three reasons why.

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Remove The Stress From Your Act Creation


How to tame the six-headed beast of the burlesque artist.

There is so much to do, and it feels almost impossible to get any of it done!!!! And all the while, yet MORE tasks seem to keep getting added to your list until you are paralysed into complete in-action. 

This phenomenon arises in many other creative areas and indeed in many careers, but I have never felt it more strongly than when creating a solo burlesque act.

Even worse, I think this is a phenomenon that most beginners just DO NOT EXPECT! Which makes the whole experience even more overwhelming. Rather than shrivel up and suffocate in the overwhelm, wishing you could some how clone yourself in order to get everything done, learn how to..




Creating an act is a mixture between developing and polishing, imagining and manifesting. I’m drawing from my experience of a devised theatre background, rather than a scripted theatre background.

Rather than a writer writing the piece (or a choreographer choreographing a piece) and then passing it onto the actor or dancer to rehearse and polish, when you create a burlesque act, you’re fulfilling BOTH roles… AT THE SAME TIME!!!

In fact, throughout your act creation you’re fulfilling ALL the roles of Writer, Performer, Director, Costumer, Music Composer AND Producer…


And… some parts of the brain that are great at some of these roles are totally disruptive to the skills required for the other roles.

How can your creative brain think.. “Ooh I could end the act by releasing doves into sky”.. when your Producer brain is saying ..”how the hell am I supposed to get hold of and pay for a dozen doves and what venue would even allow it??!”.

You need to allow your creative brain the time to go and explore without judgement… to play, to imagine. Then, SWITCH ROLES and allow your producer brain to look through your creative brain’s notes and figure out logistically how to make that idea, (or at least the essence of that idea) possible.

I know for some actors when rehearsing devised theatre, they can’t concentrate on rehearsing and polishing the scenes they’ve already worked on because they panic, not knowing how the piece is going to end and yet knowing they have a show booked in three weeks time! They’re used to having the finished script there in front of them and having a solid idea of how much work is ahead.

The best advice I can give you is to try to FULLY SWITCH from one role to another during the entire process.

When being the Writer and Creator of your act, exploring all the possibilities, it’s not your role as Director to worry about how polished the performance is or as a Producer to worry about how much time or money sourcing a particularly prop will take. Letting these roles stick their head in will only distract you from the task at hand.

Pick a role and run with it until you have completed that role’s tasks. For example choose to spend a couple hours in ‘development mode’ where your sole purpose is to explore and create. During this ‘development mode’ keep a note pad next to you. When ideas regarding props or costume come up, don’t get distracted and start researching them, WRITE IT DOWN. If you start working on floor work and then panic about whether it will work with the venue’s sight-lines – WRITE IT DOWN. If you suddenly have an idea of changing the beginning of your music, or suddenly remember that you haven’t sent your music to the show producer – don’t run off and do it, WRITE IT DOWN.

ANYTHING that distracts from being in development mode write it down so you can stay in the “Actor/Writer role”.  Treat the process as if you have a team of five other people who are fulfilling the other roles, and write it down for THEM to deal with later.

If during this rehearsal session, you find yourself at a creative ‘writer’s block’, THAT’S the time to let the ‘writer’ in you leave the room so you the ‘actor’ can use the remaining time to focus purely on just perfecting what has already been created, to give your creative mind a bit of a break and switch gears.

Schedule your sessions so that every time you work on your act you are switching between your roles, to give each part of your brain a break.

So, when you hit a creative writers wall, and don’t know where the act is going, and you’ve rehearsed the piece as much as can during your session, NOW’S the time to switch to focusing on more tangible things that you CAN be doing in order to get your act show-ready.

Become the Producer and look at the list of things your writer and actor gave you to problem solve during their rehearsal session, source that prop you still haven’t gotten hold of, send your promo photos and music to the booker, promote your show on social media, check on the venue sight-lines and confirm the available entrances and exits.

Then become the Costumer, look at the notes your actor and writer gave you and apply those rhinestones to your costume, find the pieces that are missing, you can let your mind wander as you do so…


..and if something crops up for the other roles to deal with, write it down so they can deal with it during THEIR next session.

At the end of the day, remember, although creating your act yourself is a rewarding and fulfilling experience, don’t beat yourself up trying to get it all done. There are always things you can outsource, you can always ask a friend to help find that 50’s style radio prop that you’re having an issue finding or ask a fellow burlesquer to help out with some costume design problem you’re finding, hire someone else to edit your music for you, book in a session with me to look over your work so far to give you some ideas of how to get out of your creative block or to polish what you’ve already choreographed.

Yes it’s a solo act but you’re still part of this burlesque community – and we are here to help and support each other.

ABOVE ALL – remember why you started this whole process in the first place and whatever role you’re embracing during your act development, or indeed your everyday life, make sure you’re still having fun!!!

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Top 5 Burlesque Costuming Tips

Top 5 Burlesque Costuming Tips

Your costume is one of the most important ingredients in your burlesque act, not only for how it looks on stage and how it portrays your character but also in the functional design so that you can continuously rely on it to be removed effortlessly and intentionally. Not to mention the costume’s maintenance, storage and transportation, so that it continues to look and perform it’s best, show after show after show!

Many times it will be some kind of issue with costume which prevents a student from exploring and developing an act to it’s fullest potential – here are a few tricks of the trade to overcome hesitations in pushing your costume boundaries.


This fear may prevent you from investing in adding beading, trims, appliques and rhinestones to a garment – all of which are absolutely necessary to customise your costumes to make them uniquely yours and to make your costumes look like a billion dollars on stage.

True, all these beautiful and expensive costumes are not easy to keep clean! I even had a corset refused at a dry cleaning company because they were scared the process would melt the beads and sequins that were part of the appliqués.

Dry cleaning sticks for spot checking are an absolute godsend, but for freshening up and killing off bacteria, many suggest a vodka/essential oil mix. A great product available from performer Caramel Knowledge is her Stripper Spritz in four available fragrances – for info  and to purchase, send her an email at [email protected]

For underwear in particular  –  99% of the time I will wear a nude thong as a base layer, not only as a protective layer for cleanliness but also added coverage for quick changes backstage (or let’s be honest, in the corridor of the bar!). On some occasions, the costume design might mean that an under layer of thong might show through or poke out the top. On other occasions I’ve ended up at a show accidentally wearing a black thong and about to put on my VERY WHITE snow queen costume.. oops. Try cutting the gusset out of a similar pair of underwear, or even just a triangle out of an old t-shirt and either using small snaps, or if these are too bulky you can always use your double-sided pastie tape to attach the fabric to the inside of your garment. Then, when you need to clean the piece you can just remove the fabric and wash that instead of the entire garment. I’ve even heard of some people taping the inside of their costume panties with fabric sports tape and then removing and replacing in-between shows.


When starting out I could barely ATTACH a garter belt to a thigh-high stocking, let alone DETACH it. Add to that detaching it in front of an audience, in time to your music, all while looking effortless….waaaaa!

But that shouldn’t discourage you from including this in your act. Maybe you decide to use silicone hold ups instead of a garter belt, or just old fashioned ‘hours of rehearsal’ to get this technique down.

If you still can’t fathom the idea and it freaks you out, it’s not worth putting the pressure on yourself so that you consistently panic during those seconds leading up to this particular moment in your act.

Even if you’re a pro at garter belt removal and you like to incorporate my core concept of “cosmetic removal” to use the struggle to tease your audience, maybe your storyline or upbeat music means you want this moment to be more snappy … hey “snappy”, I made a pun!

Take some clothing snaps and sew the female side to your stocking top. Then   close the fastening on the garter belt, and use E6000 to glue the male side to the back of the garter fastening. You can then easily snap the garter to the stocking top so it looks like it’s connected using the regular fastening. If you get runs in your stocking and need to replace then, just snip off the female snap and attach it to your new pair. Click here to see a video example of this snap technique.

The garter belt will still function normally so you can use them for more than one act – either with the snaps for quick removal, or as normal, for a slower tease.


YEP, costume malfunction happens to the best of us. Usually the answer is spending rehearsal time figuring out what is causing the issue and troubleshooting the problem, rather than just accepting defeat. The more you can give yourself a break by altering your pieces accordingly, the better you set yourself up for success. First and foremost, there are no rules that you HAVE to use any of these items in your act, and there are no rules that if you DO use them that they have to be removed during your act –  if that’s your storyline.

Just don’t let the fear prevent you from experimentation – there are ways and means.

Bras: Make sure to fold over the excess part of the hook and eye when doing one-handed removal this allows extra space for the finger and makes the logistics of unhooking way easier.

For those wearing a larger size bra that has a number of hooks – try replacing these small hooks with larger coat hooks so that the same amount of area is covered but you only have one or two hooks to undo. If you’re still fumbling – try replacing the clasp with ribbons or ties, or consider a front opening bra, either pre-bought or you can just alter an existing bra by adding the specific clasp or tie option.

Dresses: Those which have a back zipper – you can start by not zipping right to the top of the dress, leave an inch or so at the top undone, so you’re already on your way. Tie on a zipper extension to hang down the back so that it’s easier to reach around to pull, this can be decorated with beads or a sequined trim or tassel so that you’re misdirecting your audience from the functional reason for the extension. Dresses with straps or a halterneck – you can detach the straps and add a snap extension so they can be easily undone on stage ready for you to effortlessly step out.

Corsets: Another intimidating item for removal and easy to get stuck in if you don’t loosen the laces enough before undoing a front busk. Again, maybe your act calls for a different energy and instead of a slow removal you want the punch of a quick removal in one moment. I have a fire act where I have a fire stick in one hand and am therefore completely unable to remove a busk-fronted corset with the other. There are a few corsets on the market that have swivel buckles at the front which you can undo with one hand either one by one or all together in one swift motion.

There are also corsets available with zipper front. If you can’t find one you like, then you can easily use a seam ripper to remove a busk and replace with a zipper instead.

Shoes: Many performers use ballroom dance shoes with an easy release clasp. Maybe you don’t want to spend the money, or don’t like the look of these for your act, but you also feel like slip on shoes are not secure enough. Rather than fumble with standard buckles, try using ribbon as below to to tie the shoe to your feet without having to attach it to the shoe.

This also sets you up for some post-peel action with the ribbon, after you’ve undone it, but before you remove the shoe.


I have previously made costume pieces to fit me EXACTLY (at the time) and then yes, weight gain, weight loss, times of the month, all mean you may fear that the costume will be redundant in a few months or years time. The more you can make your costume adjustable, the better.  Feeling less than 100% confident in wearing your costume can tarnish the way you feel about your entire act.

Feeling amazing in your costume off-stage, sets you up for success on-stage.
Don’t settle for less!

Bras: We’ve already mentioned the use of ties for the back of a bra to help with smooth bra removal, but adding ties also means that the bra becomes adjustable, for both a decrease and increase in size. If you don’t particularly like the look of ties at the back, you can always add an extra hook and eye panel cut off from an old bra in order to extend the back. Or, alternatively, adjust the placement of the eyes in order to reduce the size of the back. Make sure to embellish over the top of any extra section so that the whole thing ties together into the original bra design.

To alter the front of a bra that may have become too small,  you can add extra trim or fabric to the top or side of the cups, or for halter necks, add trim all the way up along the side to cover any “chicken fillets”.

I’ve even gone as far as cutting the cups in the side to create a “dart” effect to add more fullness to a bra cup as a permanent alternation,

however, most of these alterations can be made temporary so that you can easily switch between the different versions of the same costume. For example, the tie design on my leather fire bra has meant I’ve been able to use this item for styling on a range of body types when running my makeover photoshoots, or to lend to a fellow performer for a one-off act.

Panties: I had some panties made by a third party for an act and unfortunately the embellishment had reduced the stretch of the material (another thing to be aware of when doing your own embellishment). I was able to cut into the seam both left and right, add elastic to the main garment, and then add an appliqué to cover the sight of the elastic. Put the garment on your body and you can see where the appliqué is meeting the garment and place a snap at this point. This means that any weight loss or gain will just affect the amount that the elastic stretches and you will only have to move the snap accordingly in order to change the placement of the applique.

I am a huge fan of using elastic to make things adjustable but really don’t like the way it can dig into the skin. Using the elastic as the base for a garment and then attaching a trim with snaps means that you can always adjust the placement of the trim and it will never dig into your skin.


Yes, yes it will. Although the more you invest in making your costume look amazing as well as standing the test of time, the more you will get out of it, have your act booked for higher paid gigs and gain more festival appearances.

One of my first outfits, my leather bikini and fire dress, in total must have cost upwards of $1200, but I created that outfit in 2007 and am still adding to it and using it today. I’ve had TV appearances wearing it, I’ve rented it out to other performers, I’ve had one-off gigs that paid $650 for one appearance.

Does that mean ALL of my outfits originally cost that much?

Hell no!

But it does show the value of investing in at least two or three “high profile” acts, your favourite acts, the ones that audiences show the most love for. Test out an act and then you can pick your favourites and gradually invest into them more bit by bit.

There are ways of avoiding spending crazy amounts of money upfront and ways of being smart about where the money goes.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure: 
Buying costumes new, buying fabric, trims and embellishments direct from the store can all add up when oftentimes it’s not necessary.

Old Costumes into new:
Many burlesque performers will post their old costumes on facebook groups or advertise costume swap events. These are great since these costumes will mostly be personalised, not off the rack, and will have already been adjusted to be easily removable for the purposes of a burlesque act. Re-read how to adjust items  above in point 4) and use this knowledge to look at others’ pieces from the angle of how best to make use of their items even if they don’t fit EXACTLY. Can you use that piece as a base for further embellishment, can you use the long dress to split into a skirt and use the top section of fabric to embellish a matching bra.

If something is too large or small can you alter it to fit? This knowledge is also perfect for looking around charity shops with a more creative eye, or for improving an off-the-rack or cheaply made halloween costume to become personalised and stage-worthy.

Treasure hunting: 
Thrift stores ( or UK Charity Shops) are amazing hunting grounds. Not just for finished pieces but for what you can scavenge from certain pieces. More expensive fabrics like fur, leather, silk, can be bought as items from a thrift store and then chopped up for your own use, especially when (for example, making my werewolf costume) you don’t really require a full yard of fabric.

For my leather fire dress, I paid a dress-maker to create the dress section personally from scratch, but for the skirt/loin cloth section, I decided to make this myself. I found an XXL men’s leather coat, on sale in a thrift store for $15  – that’s a lot of leather! Not only did I make the skirt I intended, but continued to use that coat material for other pieces for other acts, gauntlets,  maleficent crown, a fire proof tutu for a friend’s project, and still there’s material leftover waiting to be repurposed.

Fabric aside, you can also purchase pieces that have trims you can repurpose – use a seam ripper to remove fringing, appliques, stones and jewels from an item and use them to embellish your own.  Not only can this be cheaper than buying the trims new, but someone else has already done the work of matching and complementing the colour choices and removed the guess work out of which colours to mix and match. BONUS!

I would love to hear any queries you have about costuming, any issues you might have faced or projects that seem too daunting – feel free to post in the members Facebook Group, if you’re a member, or shoot me an email at [email protected] if you’re not.

For those based in Los Angeles I run a monthly costume creation class where I can help you to source the pieces you need for your project and then help advice and create whatever your heart desires. Check out all the info at:

5 Ways Burlesque Performance Can Positively Impact Every Area Of Your Life 1024 683 Vixen DeVille

5 Ways Burlesque Performance Can Positively Impact Every Area Of Your Life

5 Ways Burlesque Performance Can Positively Impact Every Area Of Your Life

“Burlesque is more than just flirtatious tease; it’s an attitude of confidence”

If you’re looking to improve your confidence and charisma, from the bedroom to the boardroom (and everywhere in between) look no further. Burlesque is more than just flirtatious tease; it’s an attitude of confidence that can positively impact every area of life.


Working on your “enoughness” in the world of burlesque, trains this muscle for your everyday life.

There are several things my new Burlesque students worry about when they first come to me, but usually it boils down to TWO main points:


What I love about creating solo acts with my students is that…

…It’s all about pleasing YOU!

I’m not teaching group choreography where everyone compares themselves to everyone else. Instead, we create a solo act together which celebrates YOU in whichever way you see fit.

What do YOU want to express?

what fires YOU up?

YOU make the rules to suit YOUR needs and YOUR strengths!

YOU MAKE THE RULES about how much you show on stage. If there’s an area of your body you don’t feel comfortable with then feel free to keep that covered.

YOU MAKE THE RULES about the style of act, if you think you can’t dance, you don’t have to. There are so many styles of burlesque performance, together we will discover what it is that sets you apart.

Burlesque is about embracing your uniqueness, in life and onstage.

For anyone who experiences self-doubt throughout the day “I don’t belong here”, “I’m not good enough”, I would advise them to follow up that question with, “by whose standards?”.

By whose standards are you feeling that your body has flaws? Who says you shouldn’t proudly show off these areas of your body just because they haven’t been air brushed by Photoshop?

By whose standards are you judging your performance abilities? Your intelligence, your achievements..? Is the voice of judgment in your head created by a parent, a co-worker, a sibling, a supposed friend??? (Hint stop hanging out with these people wherever possible!!)

I advise all my students to AVOID the mentality of going on stage asking the audience,

“Is this doing it for you??…   

                                      … Is this sexy??

                                                       …Do you like what I’m doing??”

It’s not about asking the audience if you’re good enough and if you’re meeting their standards. It’s about saying, “look at me, I’m awesome – witness me in my height of glory!!”

Once you give yourself the permission to do this on stage you will find yourself instinctively walking into ALL rooms with the same confident attitude.



People feel so much guilt for wanting to look and feel sexy, especially in the world of business which can be so masculine orientated. Too often we shy away from embracing our feminine power and sexuality in order to be “taken seriously” (FTS!!)

Newcomers to Burlesque may worry about what everyone else will think of them. “Are my parents going to think less of me?”, “What if my co-workers find out?”. Again, these doubts are related to OTHER people’s standards! Remember – when people judge us or prevent us from doing something, it’s because it causes a fear in THEM. Your ACTION highlights their INACTION, their inability to do the very thing you have the confidence to be doing.

Burlesque is too often misinterpreted by those who have never experienced it. It is not solely about stripping and revealing flesh, in the voyeuristic sense.

Your act is about a peeling and revealing of layers and concepts. Rather than saying, ‘“I’m naked and vulnerable”, you’re actually rebelliously and joyously saying, ‘“I’m ripping off this mask that society has made me wear!”

You’re not doing this for anyone else! You’re not taking your clothes off to titillate ‘some guy’!

You’re celebrating yourself, peeling back the layers you’re wearing, in order to celebrate the beautiful human underneath.



Yes, you can use your burlesque stage as a public soapbox.

If you feel you can’t voice your opinion at the dinner table or water cooler, whether that’s because other people shun your opinion or you don’t feel articulate enough to join the conversation, try the medium of Burlesque.

Be political! You’re making art. And for what other reason do people create art than to say something to the world? That is the essence of Burlesque. It’s therapeutic and cathartic for the performer, and the audience gets something out of it, as well.


You never have to settle for the ‘you’ that you are now. Just because you grew up a certain way, with specific experiences, doesn’t mean you have to keep that identity for the rest of your life.

If you’re stuck with something you don’t like, change it. Large or small, you can move, quit your job, break up with somebody, or just color your hair. Some changes may take longer than others but it’s better to slowly crawl in the direction you want, than to sprint the other way.

With this in mind – a huge life change and self-reinvention may seem overly daunting, so start with the Burlesque stage…

…allow this to be the arena for your new persona to come out to play.

Embrace your brazen alter-ego, give them a name, let THEM take the blame for your new found style and behavioural choices. Allow THEM the freedom of not having to ‘fit in’ or meet other’s expectations of you. You can gradually allow your new persona to filter into your everyday life and realise that…

…the people who matter will fall in love with the quirkiness and weirdness that truly is you.



Rather than hiding the areas of yourself you’ve been made to feel bad about in your everyday life, your burlesque act is the perfect opportunity to draw attention to, and CELEBRATE those qualities. Maybe these qualities aren’t accepted or celebrated at your place of work or around your family members, but those rules and regulations don’t exist when your burlesque persona hits the stage.

In the burlesque world, these qualities are no longer tainted as negative flaws, they are just a quality that makes you different from the person standing next to you,

These qualities are what make you uniquely YOU and you can start to embrace them as your USP.

As you gradually get used to confidently flaunting those areas you once learnt to consider flaws, you’ll find yourself allowing this to filter into your everyday life. The more confidence you have in EVERY element that is you, then the more you can start to surround yourself with those who value you for the person you truly are, rather than feeling the need to change for others.

For anyone craving more tips on self-confidence and celebrating yourself both on and off the stage check out my Intro to Burlesque class “Unleash Your Inner Vixen” with me in Los Angeles or for anyone out of town sign up for a free consultation with me online

6 Steps To Choosing Your Burlesque Name 1024 474 Vixen DeVille

6 Steps To Choosing Your Burlesque Name

6 Steps To Choosing Your Burlesque name

We’ve all done the generic…

“Take the name of your first pet,
…add the street you grew up on,
…plus the colour of the underwear you’re currently wearing…
…minus the number you first thought of…..”


Picking your burlesque name should be more than just a fun party game.

It’s your rite of passage as a burlesque performer, the rebirth of YOU, on YOUR terms!

What an amazing opportunity!! 

To shed any labels or past connotations of the name you’ve had your entire life.

The name that SOMEONE ELSE gave you, before you had any specific personality traits or defining behavioral characteristics.

The name that other kids maybe made fun of at school, or no-one could ever pronounce correctly.

The name that connects you to a parent you’ve never met, a name that ties you to identities of who you used to be years ago…
…a geek,
…a prima donna,
…a wallflower,
…a control freak,
…a total fuck up…..

…or a name that just… generally… never felt quite right.

If you’re just starting out in burlesque, you may be wondering when’s the best time to start choosing your burlesque name?

I’d say START NOW! 

The sooner you start thinking about it, to let it marinate, the better. The longer you’ll have to try it on and see if it fits!

Some may suggest to leave it until you’ve fully worked out your first act, so you know that your name truly fits your vibe, but you don’t want your name to be an afterthought, hurriedly selected the week leading up to your first show. Equally, I suggest you may not want to FINALISE the decision right away, buying your website domain name and having business cards printed up before you’ve even started developing your act…

…but start the PROCESS now. 

Allow your name choice to develop as you gradually mould your first act, so the two can develop together in alignment, each informing the other.


A student recently sent me this article https://www.warpaths2peacepipes.com/native-american-indian-names on Native American Indian names. I love how a baby name would change with adulthood, a person could have several names during their lifetime and how names were often chosen to mark major events in life and could change with new achievements, life experiences and accomplishments.

As a burlesque performer, your name is not only used to describe your persona on stage, it’s your branding, your logo. It’s the last thing the audience will hear announced before you enter the stage. It’s one of the reasons people will (or will not) remember you (or, indeed, remember to HIRE you).

I’ve talked before on how costume contributes to creating your character persona and attitude on stage – as you put on your costume, you immediately begin to feel more cutesy, more powerful, more feminine, more … whatever it is that your chosen costume does to you.

In the same way you need to LOVE how your chosen name makes you feel, and yes, you may need to try a few on before making your final decision.

You need to love saying your name out loud,
Love introducing yourself as that name AND love hearing others use it to introduce YOU. 



Just as I advise to start developing your acts by having an idea of how you want to feel on stage and what you want to express, these starting points are also a great place to jump off from when developing your name. In fact, for anyone feeling lost and overwhelmed at developing an act, you may find the process of your name selection helpful in giving you inspiration and clarity with regards to your act development.

Start by writing a list of the essences and qualities you envisage your character to have.

When I was naming, ‘Vixen DeVille’, the characteristics that were coming through in my rehearsal were, ‘domineering’, ‘mischievous’, ‘powerful’, ‘magical’ etc.

Write down all of these words and then throw them into www.thesaurus.com (or dare to use a physical hard copy thesaurus!) and see what other words come up to describe those words and add them to your list.

To further explore your character’s essence, you can also ask the question, “What’s important to me?”. What does your character care about most? – Money, freedom, happiness, power? You can also put these into the thesaurus and see which words pop out.


Now you have your list of various essence words, try looking up these words in different languages to discover other interesting words and phrases with the same meanings for inspiration.

For example, the French word for ‘mischievous’ is ‘Malicieux’ – this could inspire you to add the English word ‘Malice’ and maybe think that “Malice in Wonderland” is a good name. Maybe break down the French word into two so your name could be “Mally Cieux” or “Allie Cieux”. Maybe the word brings your attention to the English word “Malicious” and you can throw these words back into the thesaurus for more inspiration around this theme. What other words do they remind you off, what do these words rhyme with?.. maybe, “Malicious Delicious” becomes an option?

NOTE: If a name in a foreign language feels like it’s working for you DO MAKE SURE to check with a native speaker if the name makes sense to them!!! 

It’s ok to use these words and phrases as inspiration, and then go ahead and play with spelling, grammar etc, to make it work for you, but make sure to do the research and KNOW that you’re straying from the original form. A horror film called “Silence of The Lambs” doesn’t have quite the same effect when inadvertently translated into “Sheep Can’t Talk” 

Once you’ve exhausted the thesaurus and research into foreign languages, start looking up your essence words in relation to animals and inanimate objects.

ANIMAL: I would start with animals as they are directly related to movement and can easily be imagined in a personified form.

If your character were an animal what would you be? For me – the essence of ‘mischievous’ provided a word in the thesaurus ‘sly’ which related to the animal ‘Fox’ another word for ‘Fox’ is ‘Vixen’. Maybe you want a feeling of freedom on stage, so you start looking at bird names which will provide you a whole ton of research into how these relate to folk lore and superstition.

Once you come up with one animal name, explore all variations of the animal to get specific and find the one which suits you best. A connection to a Cat-like persona comes up with, ‘kitty’, ‘pussy’, ‘kitten’, ‘panther’, ‘lion’ etc. which all conjure up completely different images and vibes (and puns, which we’ll get on to later).

Continue this with:

These are the more typical arenas but feel free to take this into your own area of interest, what car would you be, what greek goddess would you be, what piece of clothing, what sport, what kitchen appliance..? Take this wherever you want to go in order to get your inspiration.


Write down the names of anyone real or fictional that has similar traits to your character. You can use these in two ways, by taking either their first or last name and adding it to one of your words above.

For Example: You like the vibe of ‘Marilyn Monroe’, and we have the word ‘Malicious’ from earlier so maybe we consider ‘Marilyn Malicious’, ‘Malicious Marilyn’, ‘Malicious Monroe’. Anything that feels good, add it to the list. “DeVille” for me was a blatant steal from “Cruella De Vil” with just a different version of spelling.

A second way of using famous names is to use them as the basis of a pun  – maybe Marilyn Monroe becomes Marilyn Death-Row.

A large number of burlesque names sit in the world of puns so spend some time looking at your list of words and see if any phonetic puns come to mind. Double check that they work both visually, (written down), since your visual name will be your branding and logo,  as well as aurally,  (said out loud) so that when the host announces you, the name makes sense.


Now you have your exhaustive list of words, try them out in all combinations of first names and second names. Keep in mind the use of alliteration, puns, and use of rhyme. Say them out loud, write them down, decide how they make you feel and what they look like written down in text. Collate a list of your favourite 5 to 10 names and connect with your fellow burlesque community either in person, or on social media to get feedback on which ones are the favourites and which really describe the persona you are expressing on stage.


Before you 100% decide on a name make sure to do as much research into that name as possible. Throw it into a search engine and see what comes up, check social media profiles. You want to remove as much competition as possible, so that if anyone searches your name online it’s YOU that comes up, not some random film on IMDB or a clothing boutique in another city.

I’d had the name, ‘Vixen DeVille’ for a year or so and then randomly found out that she was a character in a very low profile porno graphic novel, which luckily, now, must have been buried in the depths of google search.

I was exiting stage after two years of performance when the host announced “if you liked that act you can catch VD at next week’s show…” oops!! (but still hilarious)

Even after I’d been learning German for 4 years and toured Germany for 4 months, it took an audience member over in Santa Monica, California (about 8 years into performing as ‘Vixen DeVille’) to tell me that ‘Vixen’ is the same phonetic sound as the German verb ‘Wichsen’ – I’ll let you guys go trawl the internet to find out THAT meaning!

You’ll never know EVERYTHING about your name, but DO YOUR DUE DILIGENCE!!

WORST CASE SCENARIO – Another burlesque performer already has that name!!


Doesn’t matter if they just started out or are no longer working, that burlesque name has already been taken, end of story. It doesn’t do anyone any favours. Not only is it disrespectful to that already established performer, but it doesn’t help you out to be attempting to launch your career in someone else’s shadow. Much better to be unique and memorable than just a mediocre copy.

Remember this should be a fun time in your burlesque career, and if you start now you’ll give yourself the time to play, to try things out, do your due diligence and not have a stress-filled panic attack at the last minute.

For those of you signed up for class both in-person and online, remember to share your choices on the private Facebook group for some constructive criticism from both myself and fellow students.

Not in Class? Find out the best training for you whether it’s online in your own home town or with me in-person in Los Angeles

5 Ways To Instantly Increase Your Sex Appeal, On and Off the Stage 525 350 Vixen DeVille

5 Ways To Instantly Increase Your Sex Appeal, On and Off the Stage

Learn 5 ways to INSTANTLY increase your sex appeal and stage presence.

“Super-Sexy” is not solely for the “Super-Fit”. You don’t have to “Work-Out” in order to “Work It”. There’s all these articles these days about embracing ‘sexy’, how ‘sexy’ can improve your self-esteem, your love life and in fact, life in general. Most recently Adryenne Ashley of Thrive Global wrote:

“Remember Teri Hatcher doing those impossible splits right on the studio floor on ‘Oprah’? Or Carmen Electra positively gushing about what exotic dance has done for her body and bedroom tactics? A large number of celebrities have recently taken to a sexy alternative to working out”
See full article here

That’s great! and also totally true, but what if you CAN’T do the splits like Teri Hatcher? What if you don’t have the body of Carmen Electra? And what if you don’t have the upper body strength to open a jar of peanut butter, let alone climb onto a pole?

If you’re out there screaming .. “well it’s OK for those girls to embrace their ‘sexy’ – they’re all flexible, toned, skinny bitches!”, don’t worry – “getting your sexy on”, is available to you too!

The good news is that we ALL have a ‘sexy’ to embrace, and it’s not about pole dancing your way to that perfect bod, or getting flexible enough to achieve some twisted-pretzel sex position.

It’s NOT an ‘outside-in’ approach:

“I get the perfect body, I therefore feel sexy”.

Work from the ‘inside-out’! It’s about getting down to how YOU FEEL about how you look. Rather than getting hung up about ‘embracing the sexy’, start EMBRACING THE POSITIVE, and ACCEPTING THE (supposed) NEGATIVE, this leads to self-confidence because CONFIDENCE IS YOUR ‘SEXY’!!

How can anyone ‘embrace their sexy’, when what they think and feel is screaming the opposite? “Im too old, too tall, too short, too boney, too fat, too WHATEVER!!!

All this bullshit we tell ourselves (or have allowed others to convince us) about all these things that are ‘wrong’ with us. ALL THIS JUDGEMENT!  Of course we shy aware from being naked and vulnerable, since these days it seems none of us can get it right… “Oh god that women is wearing a bikini she looks anorexic” vs “oh god that woman is wearing a bikini – she’s spilling out of it”.

You don’t have to be the illusive ‘perfect’ to be sexy, you don’t have to be in lingerie, or be naked to be sexy. You don’t even have to be explicitly SEXUAL to be sexy. What you DO need to embrace is…


5 Ways to Increase Your Sexy on stage and in everyday life…  

Burlesque performers come in all shapes and sizes and are some of the sexiest people I’ve had the privilege to encounter. Burlesque technique lies less in the technical aspects of dance and lies very much in the ‘charisma’ of the performer on stage. The quality of their movement, the manipulation of the audience’s attention, the exposure of a persona and their sense of play.

You can bring all these qualities into your daily life, not just in the bedroom, not just on the stage. To quote Shakespeare, ‘All the world’s a stage’. So start bringing these secrets of the stage into your world and your life today.


This is an exercise I use with all my burlesque students early on. Walk around the room as if you own the space. Take up your space! Remember, we’re trying to get to HOW YOU FEEL about yourself, not changing what you look like, we’re working from the inside out!

Imagine this place is yours – everyone and everything around you is only there to please you. Walk down the street imagining yourself as the center of the universe. When you do this, you will be! Remember, you ARE the center of everything. You only have your point of view, so everything you see is an invention of your perspective. So, to feel more confident: walk through the grocery store as if you own it. Cross the street like everyone is there to see YOU. Pretend you own the place, and soon you will do.


As you move through this brave new world of yours, start to ENJOY your movement. You don’t have to be dancing! Enjoy walking down the stairs, opening the door, really connect and be present with which parts of your body are moving at any given time and how it FEELS to do so.

Just as when you see someone really enjoying eating a delicious meal, we immediately want to get in on it, similarly, when we see someone enjoying their movement, enjoying just being themselves, we want to get in on that too! To take this analogy further – it’s the equivalent of eating for fuel and function vs eating and tasting every mouthful and savouring the pleasure it brings.


I talk about the importance of self love in many forms but this is the most instantly applicable. Following on from your ‘enjoyment of movement’ is what I call in class ‘adding some self-love’. Making physical contact with yourself – NO I don’t mean in a sexual way, I mean just making physical contact with yourself in a day-to-day situation, brushing the hair from your face, grazing your fingers along your neck, again, this idea of CONNECTING WITH YOURSELF, the curves, the texture. Find as many opportunities to make physical contact with yourself as you go through your day. As an audience the more we see you touching and enjoying the feeling of yourself, the more we want to get in on it!


This is a great one for drawing in an audience and keeping their attention. Remember I’m referring to ‘audience’ as ‘everyone you meet’ – grocery store, job interview, dance floor!

First you want to MAKE DIRECT EYE contact. This immediately shows confidence and, as we all know now.. CONFIDENCE BRINGS SEXY. If this is something you shy away from, it comes with practice – the more you do it, the more confident you will become. BUT…. you want to AVOID constant direct eye contact! This becomes intimidating and challenging and will shut down an audience member and make them feel uncomfortable.

Once you grab their attention with direct eye contact, direct THEIR gaze by looking at the part of yourself you want to bring their attention to. Swap between these, confidently grabbing their attention and directing their attention.

Finally, add in NO EYE CONTACT. Remember that element of “ALLOWING OTHERS TO JOIN YOU”? Allow your audience that brief moment of being able to take you in without their being challenged or judged. For a brief moment they are being voyeurs of your magnificence and you have the confidence to allow them to do so. Allow them that moment….. then BOOM, direct eye contact again… smile – “I know you were watching, I see you, and I’m ok with it… I’m glad that you were”.


It’s really easy to fall into the pattern of wearing the same types of outfit, your day-to-day lifestyle really dictates what you wear; restrictive business suit, comfortable shoes, old shirts your baby is allowed to throw up on!

Give yourself permission to step out of that routine. Coming from an actor’s point of view, clothing has a lot to do with how a character feels. I can try on one outfit and feel awesome, then change my clothes and I’m suddenly frumpy. If you feel self-conscious about your body, maybe it’s just the clothing your body is in!

I challenge you to try EVERYTHING.

Go to goodwill for a couple of hours and play dress-up! Play!! Don’t second guess. Just for shits and giggles – try something you would normally be too afraid to wear or always assumed just wouldn’t suit you. People do this on Halloween, why save it for just one day a year? Wear that vibrant colored dress, wear those leather pants, wear that pair of impractical shoes. Then walk around like you own the place! Rinse and Repeat.

For anyone craving more tips on self-confidence and embracing your sexy check out an intro to burlesque class with me in Los Angeles or for anyone out of town sign up for a free consultation with me online. I guarantee you this is more than just a dance class which leaves you feeling inadequate, this is YOUR time to celebrate YOU.

Hope you’re having a fantastic week and I look forward to working with you soon.