Being in the New York neo-burlesque scene, sometimes it is hard to remember that there are so many other performers all over the world.  You may remember the interview I did aussie performer Red Devotchkin, well here is another one from a lady with an accent, Tina Warren from Glasgow, Scotland! I found her early on in my vegan burlesque internet searches, but completely forgot to contact her until recently.

Along with running her own animal charity (One World Scotland), Tina Warren is a performer and impresario of the world’s biggest burlesque club – Club Noir. Based in Scotland they regularly get up to 2,000 people at each of their events!

Vegan Burlesque:How long have you been doing burlesque?
Tina Warren: 7 years, since 2003

Tina Warren as Phantom of the Burlesque Club

VB: What first got you interested in burlesque?
TW: My sister ran a burlesque club in London with her boyfriend.
VB: Which burlesque performers inspire you?
TW:Dita Von Teese is impeccably groomed and has beautiful costumes. She also seems very disciplined.

VB:Do you have a favorite venue you perform at? Is it vegan-friendly?
TW: I run my own burlesque club at the O2 Academy in Glasgow. We love performing on the same stage as huge stars such as Blondie and James Brown. I ask for cocktails to be served at my events and I like them to be vegan.
VB: Do you have a favorite routine you’ve done?
TW:We do about 5 shows a year so I create 4 new acts a year at least for me to perform to. My favourite one is Tina Beans – it’s a grotesque burlesque homage to Dita’s champagne act. But I bathe in a giant tin of baked beans.  It’s really funny and fun to do.

VB:How longhave you been vegan?
TW: 18 years.

VB: What made you decide to be vegan?
TW:Animal welfare. Didn’t want the animals to suffer or be killed.  But now I enjoy a vegan diet for the health benefits too.

VB: Favorite vegan drink/food?
TW:That’s like trying to choose a favourite child. I love everything: Thai, Italian, Japanese, Indian, Scottish. I’m getting hungry now.

Tina as Tina Tsarina

VB: How do you deal with the non-vegan aspects of burlesque (such as boas/feather fans)?
TW:I love the challenge of making my costumes better than much of what’s out there in the burlesque world. I think I achieve it most of the time.  I use Swarovski crystals, quality faux fur, huge jewels, headdresses, 18 inch corsets, massive ballgowns, tailored tuxedoes, I’ve even had my face printed onto fabric for a costume. My acts and costumes are a lot more imaginative than a boring old ostrich feather fan dance. I think chicken feathers on anything is tacky. Sorry if this sounds catty but I’m fed up with people with no imagination resorting to animal cruelty to make themselves look pretty.  It’s an ugly trait in burlesque.

VB: If you could change one thing about burlesque, what would it be?
TW:The ubiquitous feathers. They are undeniably beautiful but they are hideously cruel.  I think feathers one day will be considered in the same way as fur is nowadays. Lay off the birds girls!  Here is some more information about ostrich feathers for example. I want to cry now just thinking about these beautiful animals and unimaginable torture they have to endure so some silly female can wear its plumage.  Why I don’t use ostrich feathers.

Tina doing her Egomaniac act

VB: Where can we see more of you?
TW: I perform at various private gigs; and also at my own Club Noir shows – all upcoming dates are here. Club Noir

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April 30, 2010

For a week I had struggled with whether or not to sign up for a 4 week Essential Burlesque Movement class through the New York  School of Burlesque.  I waited to try and get in (there were only 10 spots available) as a way of procrastinating so when I eventually did sign up, it was full.  I emailed Jo Boobs about letting me know if a spot cleared up.  I almost instantly got a reply that there was one spot left and I could paypal her the money.  Taking this as a sign, I signed up and read mroe about the class.

There are two parts that had me a bit concerned – boa work and fan dance.  Both of these rely heavily on feathers, which as a vegan, I can’t get behind.  I emailed Jo back and asked if it would be okay for me to bring vegan substitutes and she said that it would be fine.

Awesome! I have a scarf I knitted with fun fur I could use no problem, but what about feather fans? In case you don’t know what I mean, imagine Las Vegas showgirls with those really fluffy looking head dresses.  Well, it’s that but the plumes are stuck on a fan.  Fan dances are beautiful to watch, but I can’t help but feel saddened by it in the end.

So, what to do in exchange for feather fans?  I have been struggling enough with finding fake feathers for head decorations, I don’t think I’d be able to find large fake plumes on top of that.  I also don’t think fake fur would do the trick like it did for the boa.

As I sat and pondered this, I remembered an act I saw at the Jim Thorpe Burlesque festival where a woman had fabric fans that looked like fire when she moved them.  I contacted her and she sent me a link to them. Ugh, silk.  ALSO NOT VEGAN!  But this got me thinking about the fans and their construction.  The fan is merely a piece of silk attached to a fan frame. No reason I couldn’t use satin or another kind of fabric.  This will become a new project, but in the meantime if anyone comes across a vegan one, please let me know.