Tuesday 22 October 2013

An Interview with Burlesque Star Miss Polly Rae

Photo by William Baker
Time for you to get your burly fix from Appleton Pin Up Girl and what better than an interview with show stopper Miss Polly Rae?! Polly is one of London’s top performers, the star of her own West End show gives the low down on beauty, fashion, make up and more!

U.K. Burlesque sensation Miss Polly Rae is best known as the star and creator of West End and international burlesque cabaret extravaganza ‘The Hurly Burly Show™’.

Over the past 7 years she has established herself as was one of the U.K’s leading Burlesque stars. She has taken ‘The Hurly Burly Show™, from a small stage cabaret in London’s Soho to the heart of London’s West End.

In collaboration with some of the best in the business including celebrated director and creative director William Baker (best known for his work with Kylie Minogue). Miss Polly and her world class team have achieved 3 successful seasons in the West End of London and seasons in Sydney Australia and South Africa. As a solo artist, she is distinctive among her peers as a talented vocalist who combines traditional (Peggy Lee, Mae West, Marilyn Monroe) and exciting rearrangements of contemporary (Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Rihanna) songs with elegant dance and exquisite classic burlesque striptease.

Miss Polly Rae has worked internationally for high profile brands including Agent Provocateur, Roberto Cavalli, Roja Dove, Boucheron Fine Jewellery, Diesel and has worked for artists such as Darren Hayes, Kasabian and Westlife.

2012 saw the launch of Miss Polly’s new production ‘Between The Sheets’ at London’s prestigious Hippodrome Casino which received high critical acclaim.

Jessica Rabbit and Burlesque legend Gypsy Rose Lee combined, Polly exudes a warm, cheeky personality, an incredible comic flair and captivates her audiences with truly intimate, feel good, unforgettable performances

Photo by William Baker
Photo provided by Miss Polly Rae

How did you get into the burlesque industry?

Photo provided by Miss Polly Rae
I was introduced to Burlesque by Jo King AKA ‘Goodtime Mama Jojo’ and the London Academy of Burlesque. Originally I had wanted to set up a U.K equivalent of the Pussycat Dolls. At the time, I was very aware they were causing a stir and thought it was great. It wasn’t until I met Jo at a burlesque drop-in class in London though that I absolutely fell in love with ‘true’ burlesque, discovered the history and decided to create something unique. That’s when I started ‘The Hurly Burly Show’.

How did the name Polly Rae come about?
It’s my real name!!!! I did toy with the idea of a ‘stage’ name in the beginning but decided my name was more than suitable for burlesque.
You have performed in a huge amount of places. Do you still get nervous about going on stage?
I do actually, I think it’s important to have an element of nervousness, to get the right amount of adrenaline to put on a good show.

Who is your favourite burlesque performer to watch?

Photo provided by Miss Polly Rae
I’m a big fan of the American girls, Michelle L’Amour, Dirty Martini and Perle Noire in particular. Those girls kick ass! I also have the utmost admiration for Catherine D’Lish and of course Dita. In the U.K my faves are Kitty Bang and Laurie Hagen.
What is your favourite prop to use?
My acts have never been particularly ‘prop heavy’. I love my red pheasant feather fans. Back in my ‘Hurly Burly’ days I had a bed that I used for a Phone Sex act. Hands used to come out of the head board to remove my clothes!
What did you do to earn a living before you started burlesque?
I was a Beauty Therapist! I worked on Cruise Ships for a few years before becoming a Cosmetics Consultant for Christian Dior in Selfridges.
What do you like to do with your time off from being Polly Rae?
That is very rare but when I do I’m very much a home girl! Chilling at home, dinner with friends, watching the latest ‘fad’ T.V Series (Breaking Bad is my current obsession!). I also love to exercise, I spend quite a bit of time at the gym and when I get chance I take dance classes so I can learn to be more like Beyonce ;)
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?

Hmmm, I’m a huge cosmetics fan. I have been lucky enough to score a lot of free products over the years. I'm currently enjoying Chanels new thickening Mascara, a face scrub from Laura Mercier and a face serum from Kiehls. They are fabulous.

Do you have a set beauty routine?
Not really, my lifestyle is so erratic it’s very hard for me to stick to a routine. I do try to take care of my skin though. I treat myself to facials every now and again…and like to invest in good skincare.
Who is your beauty idol?
My mum J

On that note how to you keep yourself in shape for your performances?
I go to the gym regularly. I’m particularly fond of Yoga and Pilates. I’m currently trying out a new class called ‘WillPower and Grace’ – how camp!! It’s a combo of Yoga Pilates and Cardio. I love it!

What is your diet like? 
Pretty balanced. Again as I’m so busy I don’t cook very much. I live on giant wholefood salads and basically anything that takes 5 minutes to prepare. Don’t get me wrong though I do love to be naughty sometimes with a take-out Pizza or Chinese.
What are your must have pieces of make up?
Red lipstick, black mascara and a soft peach blush are my essentials.
Do you style your own hair yourself? 
Do you have any hair tips to share to get your glamorous look? 
I use hot rollers to get my curl. I leave then in for a good few hours pre-performance to make sure the curls are tight.  I only ever use the small rods to ensure the tightest curl. The absolute key to a great curl in my opinion is setting lotion. 1 part setting lotion to two parts water from a spray bottle dampens the hair and dries into a stronger set. Once set, the art is in the brush out then the teasing to get the volume and to make the hair easier to mold into shape.

Photo provided by Miss Polly Rae
Everyone no matter what shape or size wants to feel confident and happy about themselves. What advice would you have to feel glamorous and boost your own confidence?  
Obviously confidence is a complete mind set. You have to decide to be happy with yourself no matter what in securities you may have. I know this isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to do but it does have to start with that. I think this is the reason burlesque has become so popular though, it really does help women with their body image because it isn’t discriminative to any shape, size or age. Take a burlesque class, put on some sexy lingerie and dance around your room! Wear some sexy lingerie under your work uniform that no one else knows about. Dress in something that makes you feel sexy and accentuates your best assets. Confidence comes down to the individual and everyone is different but it’s all about feeling good.

You are not only a burlesque performer but a successful model too! Can you share some of your fabulous modelling experiences with us?

My favourite modelling experiences have been when I have done random advertising campaigns who wanted a pin-up girl. The most random was for Mr Brains Pork Faggots – yes really. Imagine trying to make Pork Faggots look sexy?! Was hilarious.

Photo provided by Miss Polly Rae
What is your favourite perfume? 

I have worn Allure by Chanel for 20 years! I try out different fragrances every now and again (my friend just got me into Jo Malone) but I’ll always go back to Allure.
What is your approach to fashion?

1950’s with a contemporary twist. I love vintage but I love modern fashion too. I like to combine the two.
Where are you favourite places to shop, both for burlesque goodies and for yourself?

I’m a huge fan of Coco De Mer and Agent Provocateur for both costumes and my own personal lingerie. Lascivious is also fantastic.
What are your biggest inspirations and why?
Burlesque!! Who knows where I would be now if it hadn’t entered my life. I love the ability to create what I want with what I want. There are no rules. Madonna was/is a huge idol of mine. I like to think she is somewhat of a burlesque artist, she is theatrical, she uses parody, she has taken her clothes off etc etc. No matter what, there is no doubt that she has been inspired by burlesque throughout her career.

Photo provided by Miss Polly Rae
What advice would you give to a girl (or guy) reading this interested in getting into this industry?
Learn you art, research its history and what is going on currently on the scene, create an act and practice practice practice! At the end of the day this is show business, once you have a wonderful act its then your job to market that act to get performance opportunities. You have to network, promote and be extremely pro-active. And most importantly although it may sound cheesy you have to believe in yourself.
What else is coming up for you?
I’m currently producing and hosting ‘The Soho Burlesque Club’ every Wednesday and Saturday at The Hippodrome Casino in London which is wonderful. I get to perform with some of my closest friends and favourite burlesque artists such as Kitty Bang Bang and Laurie Hagen. This is an ongoing venture so I hope it sticks around and continues to grow.
I’m planning a bit of a break to go the Australia for the fringe festivals early next year and I have a few other shows in the pipeline with some incredibly talented people which I can’t say anything about yet but I cannot wait :)
Photo provided by Miss Polly Rae
I would like to thank Polly for her time with this interview. She is a truly amazing performer, make sure you get a chance to see her live at www.hippodromecasino.com

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