According to a recent press release: "The Michigan Burlesque Festival started in 2012 with the intent to bring some of the world’s most unique performers to Detroit in hopes of reuniting the traditional concepts of original burlesque theater, where dancers and vaudevillians shared a stage to provide well rounded and entertaining sexy comedic show. It has grown into a two-day festival featuring not-to-miss local talent and award-winning performance artists and world renown burlesque performers, such as past headliners: Lushes LaMoan, Bella Sin, The Weird Sisters, Red Hot Annie, Super Happy Funtime Burlesque, Russell Brunner, Roxi D’Lite, Dangrrr Doll, Ray Gunn, Mr. Gorgeous, Jeez Loueez, Satori Circus, Hank E Panky, Dirty Martini along with so many more phenomenal performers." We get the performer Margaux Royale to discuss routines, influences, and much more...
1. Tell us a little about your latest developed routine. What drove you to choose the particular piece of music, create the costume, and pull together the specific moves in the routine? Are there any links between that routine and your “real life” that tie the two side of you together?
The latest costume I am working on is an act that is inspired by the turn of the century, Ziegfeld Follies dancers (circa 1910). It will be a red peacock deco design with lots of iridescent velvet, bead work, red stemmed peacock feather, multicolored rhinestones, and red tassels. The music and dance movements will be reflective of that era. This act will be debuted at July's Speakeasy Sunday at Cliff Bells. I am a vintage enthusiast and am inspired by all things from the past. I incorporate vintage clothing, jewelry, props, music into all my acts. There is always something. They don't call me the "vintage vixen of tease" for nothing! I hardly ever purchase anything new anymore. Thrift stores, antique shops, Etsy, eBay, and brick and mortar vintage clothing shops are my go-to. For the 2019 Michigan Burlesque Festival I will be performing my Storyville Strip act. It is a historically accurate strip tease of an 1880's prostitute in New Orleans. It’s a slow burn, like most of my performances, but I think it will really transport the audience to a time when layers, and layers, and layers of clothing were the norm and how it must have been so enticing and teasing to have to wait that much longer to see a woman fully naked. I feel very connected to New Orleans, there is a special energy there, always a great burlesque scene and centuries of history.
2. What got you into burlesque, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a performer? Building on that, is there a specific performer or act that guided your performances in the beginning?
I started as a model and in my early 20's I started to really be drawn to vintage shape wear, lingerie, and hats. I was always comfortable with being naked, never really though much of it. If I was comfortable with a photographer, some real magic could happen, and stunning images could be captured. Through modeling I discovered Bettie Page and the American artist Olivia De Berardinis. Olivia does these stunning paintings of women and Bettie was her muse for many years, just as Bettie continues to be many people’s muses. Then through Olivia I discovered Dita Von Teese. Olivia began to paint Dita in the early 2000's. After I discovered burlesque, I did lots of research. I purchased many books and vintage items relating to burlesque and showgirls. Of course, I was inspired by Dita, but Dita was inspired by those before her (which I equally admire to this day). Women such as: Lili St. Cyr, Ann Corio, Zorita, and Sally Rand.
3. Who would be your main influences or performers you admire?
PAST: Lili St. Cyr and Sally Rand. PRESENT: Dita Von Teese, Vicky Butterfly and Miss Mosh.
4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a routine with, who would it be, and why?
Leena Mynx Allure, lots of people say we look like twins or sisters or something. It would be very fun to play with that on stage.
5. How would you describe your performance style to someone who’d never seen you perform before? What is one review from the media, an audience member, or a fan has made that made you cringe?
Elegant glamour, a slow burn strut, that exudes so much feminine mystic and energy that you are entranced, dazed, ...bewitched. It’s funny, lots of people tell me I remind them of Dita Von Teese. One would think this would be the ultimate compliment (which it is), but as a performer, one wants to make a mark as themselves... not someone else. It makes me cringe sometimes, but I must remind myself it is very much a compliment. It reminds me of something I read by Dita, regarding Olivia de Berardinis. Upon Dita's first encounter with Olivia, Dita exclaimed "I would love for you to paint me!" To which Olivia replied, " But I already have, many times." At the time Dita was very much in her Bettie Page phase, not her full Dita self. Dita took that comment, self-analyzed, transformed, and then became Olivia's new muse.
6. When it comes to the musical component of your performance, is there a certain musical genre, artist, or specific song you have always wanted to use? What was the first song you ever used – and what does that song mean to you now?
I like all types of music, though I do tend to really prefer music from the 20's through 60's. It all just depends on the act... I do have a new act where I am challenging myself to blend classical music with a newer electronic song. It will be stunning. The music I used for my first performance was "The Bogus Man," by the Bryan Ferry Orchestra and "Since I Fell For You," by Dinah Washington. The Jazz Age Album by the Bryan Ferry Orchestra still makes my heart flutter, so well done.
I hope that the audience appreciates when I use vintage or even antique items. It creates another level of authenticity and magic. I think the biggest misconception about me, well, I have been told I am a bitch. Am I allowed to say that? haha
8. When was the last time you were star struck by a burlesque performer and who was it?
I performed in the 2019 Dirty Show XX and one of the headliners was Medianoche. She was one of the first performers I feel in love with when I saw her perform at Duane Park in NYC. I also got to see her and meet her when I attended the 2018 New Orleans Burlesque Festival. It was surreal to be in a show with her! The Dirty Show XX was a five-day event and we sat next to each-other in the dressing room every night. I made sure that the first night I got the fan-girl stuff off my chest, after that it was very comfortable, chill, and silly backstage. We are all just humans.
9. What is the best part of being a burlesque performer? Conversely, what is the worst part? If you could no longer be a performer for whatever reason, what would be your other artistic outlet?
The best part of being a burlesque performer is the control. Control over the costume you wear, the music you select, the gig you accept, how you decide to wear your hair or makeup. Burlesque is a pedestal for me to be my super teasing feminine and glamorous self and no one asks: "Why are you so dressed up?". Which happens in my day to day life. The worst part is that you must be more aware of your body, like I try not to get any bruises or mosquito bites, or ingrown hairs! If I no longer performed burlesque I would sell/model vintage clothing as another artistic outlet.
10. What is one question you have always wanted someone to ask you as a performer – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?
I can't really think of anything. I do know one of my favorite questions or comments by an audience member was: Are you even real?
11. Looking back over your burlesque career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”, even if it didn’t change your current situation?
12. What is one thing you still want to achieve in the burlesque world? At the end of the day, what contribution to the local burlesque scene do you hope you will be remembered for?
I would love to travel and perform overseas. Places such as England, Japan, and Australia. I want to be remembered in the Burlesque scene the same way I want to be remembered in the muggle scene. I want to be remembered for my elegance, beauty, and commanding feminine power/energy. Good music, a beautiful costume/outfit, lipstick, heels, they are such powerful tools. I want women to know how to use and harness these things to benefit themselves and inspire others around them.
MARGAUX ROYALE LINKS:
MICHIGAN BURLESQUE FESTIVAL LINKS: