Sunday 24 March 2013

An Interview with Jenni Fleur Silver

Photo by Studio 27
A naughty mix of sparkle, humour and whipped cream, burlesque performer Jenni Fleur Silver and her hostess trolley first took to the stage in March 2012. Her seductive but witty performance style fuses traditional bump and grind with cheesecake, injected with a contemporary, comedic twist. A silver sweetie, Jenni Fleur takes inspiration from 1940’s films, 90’s music and modern day TV to create oh so sexy, tongue in cheek burlesque acts.

"Jenni opened the show in July 2012 with her very own silver service and a little cheeky squirt of cream! She was a brilliant performer who acted the role of her character brilliantly! Entertaining everyone with her very extraordinary knickers to finish!"
Chantilly Lace, The Burlesque Fever Show
For bookings and enquiries, please email
Check out Jenni's blog

How did you get into the burlesque industry?

I’m a big Dita fan and in 2011 started going to burlesque shows, including the Hurly Burly Show starring Polly Rae. In the programme there was an advert for the London Academy of Burlesque and past students included Polly and lots of big names on the circuit, so I thought sod it, I’ll give it a go, and enrolled on a course. It was the kind of thing I fantasized about doing but never thought I would actually get the chance. A few months later I took to the stage for the first time and have now been performing for almost a year. Unfortunately burlesque doesn’t pay my bills, I’m more what people call a hobbyist performer – but as far as hobbies go, I think it’s a pretty darn good one!

How did the name Jenni Fleur Silver come about and what does it mean to you?
I toyed with lots of different names and considered the typical gemstone/food/drink options but nothing felt quite right. I wanted a name that I could see myself using all of the time, a name that was truly me, so I figured what better way than to actually be me and use a play on my real name?! My name is Jennifer but when I was little my cousin couldn’t pronounce it and it came out ‘Jennifleur’ and my surname is Sheffield so inspired by mining I opted for Silver – it was either that or Steel, I’d already ruled out Wednesday and United!
Do you have a favourite routine/performance?
Well, I currently only have two routines, so I guess I’d have to say both, although I think my Cream Tease number probably has the edge, it always gets a great reaction from the audience. This year I’m putting all of my efforts into developing some new acts though so there are lots of exciting ideas in the pipeline, in fact I’ve just commissioned a Catherine D’Lish robe for a new act I’m working on – well that’s my justification spending the money anyway and I’m sticking to it!
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?
I try to avoid dwelling on photos – especially the ones taken at shows. I’m not a natural when it comes to the camera, and when I’m doing a show I have no sense of where the camera is or posing, so a lot of my pics are pretty cringe worthy! I don’t go anywhere without putting on my make up, although I confess to being hopeless at applying it. I think there’s a lot of pressure on women to look ‘naturally pretty’ and so you see these girls who spend hours trying to create an effortless, barely there ‘I’m not wearing any make up’ look when they’re actually caked in the stuff. I’m the opposite, people see the bright lipstick but the reality is most of the time that’s all I’m wearing, with a little bit of concealer for my dark circles. My other must have item is Blistex Intensive Moisturising Cream, as I suffer from very dry lips, and I love my Radox bubble bath and Lush and Bomb Cosmetics bath bombs – I had eczema as a child so I couldn’t use any of those things when I was little, so now indulgent and luxurious baths are an essential part of my routine.
Do you have a set beauty routine?
Shamefully no, I have managed (touchwood) to abuse my skin quite badly in the sense that I am really rather lazy and don’t bother with cleansing, toning or moisturising. However, because I’m lucky enough to have quite a good complexion, I’ve never bothered with foundation or a face full of make-up so that has helped. Now that I’m heading towards 30 though, I’m aware that I need to be more disciplined, and I think it’s probably time to start investing in some age defying, anti-wrinkle night cream before it’s too late!
On that note how to you keep yourself in shape for your performances?
I think I’m one of millions of women who’ve resolved to lose weight and get fit this year and still haven’t made a start – in fact I’ve got a brand new DVD which has been in the cellophane for 2 months! I like to incorporate exercise into my routine naturally, so it doesn’t feel like a struggle, and I don’t go over the top – I think the key rule with diet and exercise is take it slow and keep it sustainable. I like to go for regular walks and rehearsing routines always works up a sweat, and my aim this year is to try and do a regular workout at least 3 times a week. The best weight control and loss is actually down to what you do in the kitchen – I admit to not being particularly healthy, but I have a pretty low calorie diet. I’m trying to eat more veg so I eat a lot of soups with root vegetables, grains and lentils and I try and drink plenty of water. My main vice is fizzy drinks, so if I want to lose weight I usually find just cutting down on that makes a big difference. That said, if I want something, I have it – I believe in everything in moderation, accept shoes, you can’t moderate shoes!
Describe your fashion style?
Bold, wrong and clashing – I like loud prints and bright colour combinations teamed with 5 inch heels, I think I scare most of my colleagues in the office, but they’ve learned to live with it. I tend to go for stretch fabrics like jersey, satin, brocade and lace (in the words of Rita Haywoth, I’m really no good with zippers) and usually opt for separates as I rarely find dresses that fit me. I’d love to wear vintage to, but I just haven’t got the proportions for it.
Where are you favourite places to shop?

River Island for statement bags, sexy pencil skirts and funky printed tops, Sirens and Starlets and Hell Bunny for rockabilly and vintage repro dresses, ebay for the most amazing, over the top stripper shoes, Hirst Antiques and Covent Garden Market for costume jewellery, and Catherine D’Lish and Betty Blue’s Loungerie for sultry loungewear and opulent peignoirs - I love that word!
What are your 3 must have pieces of make up?
Dita Von Teese for Art Deco lipstick and lip liner and Maybelline Dream Matt Mousse Foundation.
What do you like to do with your time off from being Jenni Fleur Silver?
Well by day I’m a Marketing and Communications Executive and I’ve recently gone down to part time hours to allow me to pursue my cupcake business, Burlesque Bakery as well, so I’ve got plenty to keep me busy. When I do have time to chill out I like exploring luxury hotels and trying out their cocktails and afternoon teas, or staying at home watching old movies.
Who is your favourite burlesque performer to watch?
There are so many to choose from, and so many I’ve yet to see! I love watching Dita for showmanship – her costumes and props are out of this world and I know when I go and watch her I’m going to see a full blown production, I always feel like I’ve travelled back in time and am on the actual set of a technicolour moving when I’m at one of her shows. The Exotic Luna Rosa is proper old school bump and grind, she’s incredibly sexy and I have never seen a performer work a pair of feather fans like Aurora Galore. I also got to see Kiki Kaboom perform for the first time recently and I was blown away by her characterisation and comedy – I was pissing myself with laughter, well you know, you were sat next to me!
Who are your biggest inspirations and why?

Dita – as a person, performer, and business women, she has inspired me to find the confidence to do a lot of things I never thought possible, from pursuing my business to simple things like going to a show, having dinner or going on holiday by myself. Jo King, my burlesque teacher as well, without her I never would have started performing burlesque. In terms of burlesque itself, I find my inspiration from everything from TV to music, to comedians and everyday life. I don’t tend to look at other performers I admire in terms of performance style – then there’s a danger of trying to become then instead of being yourself.
What advice would you give to a girl reading this interested in getting into this industry?
Well as I say, I am really more of a hobbyist – I still maintain a professional attitude and treat every performance like a job, but it’s important to realise that saying you want to be a burlesque performer is like saying you want to be a popstar or actress! The industry is very competitive, it’s hard work and there are lots of people trying to make it and only some will, so don’t expect to make a living out of it. When you start, you should treat it like a hobby – expect to invest money in your art, not to make it!
Forget everything you know about burlesque from a fan/audience perspective and open your mind to new things. See as many types of burlesque as you can, forget the kind of performer you see yourself being like, and dispel all the myths about glamour and sparkle etc. The reality of performing is very different – your alter ego and natural performance style will probably be completely different to what you imagined and not nearly as glamorous as you expected.
Avoid ‘newbie’ traps like going overboard with the self promotion and don’t be a diva, you’ll get a reputation for all of the wrong reasons. I’d also say focus on quality, not quantity of acts – a lot of people make the mistake of thinking I must have a themed act, and a balloon pop, and a fan dance for the sake of having them, or because they like them, rather than sticking to what they’re actually good at. Controversially I also think research can be a bad thing – it’s good to see what’s out there, but I wouldn’t go over the top researching an idea. Cross-over is inevitable and there are a lot of common themes – check you’re not doing something like for like, or ripping someone off, but then leave it at that before you end up sub-consciously borrowing bits and pieces from the similar acts you’ve seen online.

Photo by Studio 27
I would like to thank Jenni Fleur Silver for her time with this interview! Stay tuned as always as there’s some exciting stuff on its way!

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