Interview with UK Burlesque Performer Lena Mae!
Photo by Julian Bourn Design
As you may know I am a burlesque super fan. My love of burlesque started watching Dita Von Teese. I am a member on her website which I recommend to any Dita fan out there. This is where I met my friend Jen who is also a Dita fan, a relatively new burlesque performer herself and she also has a cupcake business, so a great amount in common. This is what I have found with burlesque, you can meet new people, make new friends with like-minded interests. You can be yourself, no matter how that is. Body size and shape isn’t an issue, how you wear your make up, what clothes you wear. It’s a very accepting community and a great thing to be involved in if you like entertainment that is unique, daring, fun, beautiful, dark, light-hearted, comedy, and covered in glitter and rhinestones then it’s just for you!To show you some of the reasons I love this so much I thought the best way would be to introduce you to some amazing burlesque performers. Let me introduce you to Lena Mae.
Photo by Paul Marc Mitchell
Lena is a Surrey based burlesque artiste best known for her flirtatious, vivacious and charismatic striptease performances, all served up with that truly contagious smile!
Taking inspiration from the golden age of Hollywood, pop culture and classic striptease, Lena has created a charming and colourful repertoire of acts, each with beautiful bespoke, vintage and hand embellished costuming. She's a natural performer with boundless enthusiasm, instinctive rhythm and a down to earth professionalism.Lena regularly performs burlesque all over the UK and is available to perform at your private, public and corporate events. Lena is also promoter of Hampshire's sell out ‘Hundred Watt Club' events. Take a look at her website for for info/photos etc http://www.lenamae.com/.
How did you get into the burlesque industry?
I wanted to be a stripper from about the age of 16, but I didn’t really think I’d fit in so I shied away from ever doing anything about it (I was worried my little boobies would be too small/that I didn’t like the music etc) Quite a few years later I saw some burlesque striptease at a good friend’s wedding. I was enticed by how playful and creative it was, it was sexy AND cute! It all clicked into place and that night I decided it made sense that it’s what I should be doing.
How did the name Lena Mae come about and what does it mean to you?
I wanted my stage name to be something close to me. Lena was a name given to me by a friend at school – a silly play on a song called ‘Magdalena’ by A Perfect Circle. After I left school the only person who still called me by it was my Brother (he still does) – and I thought it’d be nice to keep it alive. ‘Mae’ is my little tribute to pin-up beauty Bettie Page, it was her middle name.
Do you have a favourite routine/performance?I realised recently that certain acts were my favourites because I was performing them so often that I didn’t have to think about them and therefore is was so easy! So I’m making an effort to get my other acts out and about now – challenging myself and gaining confidence with them too…ask me this again in a few months!
You are on stage and being photographed a lot of the time. Looking after yourself must play a big part in your life. What are you favourite beauty products and why?LUSH’s Ultrabland – I use it as a cleanser, a moisturiser, lip balm, face mask and a pimple treatment!LUSH’s Ro’s Argan body conditioner.Baby powder – to freshen my hair between washes.
Do you have a set beauty routine?You can’t beat a good soak in the tub of an evening.
On that note how to you keep yourself in shape for your performances?I eat what I want, when I want. Pizza and pancakes mostly, so naughty! For keeping fit I do a fair bit of dancing (freestyle round the lounge!) and am attempting to become a MASTER OF KUNG FU. I’m happy with my body, of course there’s the odd wobbly bit I could worry about if I wanted to – but I tend not to.
Describe your fashion style?I guess it’d be along the lines of Cyndi Lauper meets Marilyn Monroe!
Where are you favourite places to shop?Charity shops and online.
What are your 3 must have pieces of make up?Red or pink lipstick, a good base (my eyes are dark like a panda’s), and a cheap mascara.
What do you like to do with your time off from being Lena Mae?I take a lot of photographs of half-naked ladies, that’s always good fun. My husband and I love history and spend a lot of time travelling around the UK, drinking up the stories of it’s past. Very civilised! We also like to visit old smuggling towns and stare out at the sea for hours on end, prattling on about Victorian sailors. And I like taking baths and being silly with my besties.
Who is your favourite burlesque performer to watch?TOO HARD! Can I list? At present, to make me laugh : Audacity Chutzpah, Glory Pearl, Shirley Windmill. For striptease, I like girls who exude sexiness but manage to keep their performances fun, like Bettsie Bon Bon & Beulah Bell. I love Aurora Galore’s theatrical aesthetics and that you can clearly see her dance background. Oh and Miss Betty Blue Eyes, so creative and cute! Phew! It changes weekly though, I’m sure.
Who are your biggest inspirations and why?My husband. He is funny and clever, he taught me to be honest and inspires me to be creative and to work hard. My brother, he is so kind to everyone. My best girl Ashley who has unfaltering faith in every one of her friends. I wish I was more like them. This has turned into a bit of a smoosh fest, hey? Michael Jackson, Freddie Mercury, John, Paul, George & Ringo : obvious reasons.
What advice would you give to a girl reading this interested in getting into this industry?Go out to lots and lots of cabaret and burlesque shows! Follow your heart. Don’t be a dick.
Photo by Rhian Cox
Make sure you check out Lena Mae’s website http://www.lenamae.com/ and get yourself down to the 100 Watt Club for their next amazing show! I will be attending this coming weekend and will spill all the juicy details in my review!Thank you to Lena for her time with this interview. I will be interviewing more burlesque performers so stay tuned for these in the near future!