Burlesque fanatics, rejoice! Miss Polly Rae, a burlesque star and the creator behind the Hurly Burly Show, has brought another late-night cabaret performance to London. Between the Sheets, which is currently running at the Underbelly Festival, brings Polly and other burlesque talent together for a variety evening filled with comedy, songs and spectacle. We caught up with Polly to get some saucy secrets about the performance.
What can you tell us about Between the Sheets? What should the audience expect?
It is, as I like to describe it, a ‘risqué pop cabaret’. It is a fabulous variety revue inspired by burlesque, comedy and sex. It celebrates all things saucy and ‘in the bedroom’. Expect to scream, shout, laugh, cry . . . one may even get a little tingle!
Can you reveal some backstage secrets about the world of burlesque?
Not really a secret, but most of us live on a diet of prosecco, red wine and sushi, we often re-use false lashes up to 20 times and the nipple pasties quick change struggle is real. Juicy stuff, I know!
How did you first get involved with burlesque?
I met Jo King from The London Academy of Burlesque at a dance studio. One hour in a classroom with her in 2006 and my life changed forever. I put together a troupe and created ‘The Hurly Burly Show’ (what I am most well-known for), which had three seasons in the West End [in collaboration with] William Baker, who is Kylie Minogue’s right hand man. I have since had the privilege to have a residency at London’s legendary Hippodrome, and I am thrilled to be back on the South Bank for the fourth time.
Burlesque shows sometimes are criticised. How does that affect your passion for it, and what do you wish people who aren’t that familiar with burlesque knew about the form?
It depends what critique you are referring to, but either way it certainly doesn’t affect my passion, I completely adore and respect what I do. Most people with a negative attitude towards it have either never seen a burlesque show or haven’t seen a good one. Burlesque, like anything, isn’t for everyone – but in my opinion, a bunch of extremely talented sexy people up on a stage having fun to pleasure others is not something to criticise or condemn. I wish that people who aren’t familiar would get themselves a ticket for Between The Sheets at the Underbelly Festival this summer and see for themselves before making a judgement or opinion.
What inspires you the most when you’re creating your shows?
My cast. They are so multi-skilled and creative. My shows are very much a collaboration between every artist involved, my artistic director (Klare ‘Yaya Wilkinson), my director (Laura Corcoran) and I. Everyone brings something to the table, there are constant fresh, exciting ideas and new skills to play with, which make every day an inspiration. I have strip teasers, acrobats, a fire breather, contemporary dancers and a ‘bio-queen’ – just to name a few. They bring me so much joy, and our relationship is what I believe gives the show something really special. Everyone has their solos, but we have many ensemble pieces together that are so much fun to create.
What is your favourite moment from the show?
When we pop the bubbles at the end?! Only joking!! The best moments, for me, in my shows are when we get a positive reaction from the crowd; a cheer or applause when they are having a good time is such a thrill and never gets old. Act-wise, there are so many great moments, but, for me, a pinnacle is our moment that represents ‘Love’ by Tom Cunningham and Myles Brown. It is a lovely contrast to all the raunchiness, which is really beautiful. You also can’t beat a ‘flaming’ giant absinthe glass, courtesy of international Burlesque star Kitty Bang Bang.
What do you hope the audience will walk away with after seeing Between the Sheets?
A damp seat and a smile on their face 😉
Miss Polly Rae: Between the Sheets is currently playing at the Underbelly Festival through 29 September.