In August, 2012, my husband (Mike) and I celebrated our wedding anniversary with an evening date including dinner and a burlesque show. We had never experienced burlesque and we were so entertained by the energy and talent of the performers. Immediately after the show, I met with the producers of the show and enrolled in the local burlesque academy. Upon graduation from the burlesque academy, I was offered the opportunity to be a featured performer with the neo-burlesque troupe, Salome Cabaret, and I am enjoying my fourth year as a troupe member! I also perform/collaborate in a number of local productions and travel to perform as an independent artist.
Tell me about your first burlesque performance.
What thoughts did you have before going on stage that first time?
I remember stepping out on the stage and feeling rather numb…I could not focus on the audience, but I wanted to please my husband with my performance because he was in the audience cheering for me. When my act was over, my husband presented me with a long-stem rose and a beautiful engraved, star-topped crystal trophy to commemorate my first stage performance. The experience was invigorating and it marked the start of a new journey in life.Do you have a stage name or tag line, and if so how did you come by it?
Starry DeLight, “The Tease of the Twilight.” Deciding on a stage name was easy because my husband has always called me “Star.” But, our “delightful” journey of tease as the day ends and the night begins helped the name evolve with a tag line.
Tell me about your burlesque persona.
Starry is confident on stage and wishes to please an audience. She changes her look to complete each character/personality she has developed and she can be demure or dramatic, depending on the story she is sharing on stage.
Tell me who/what inspires you, burlesque or otherwise.
I love Dita von Teese who provides a larger than life, sparkle-tastic fantasy on stage, but she is beautiful and gracious off stage, as well. Mike and I travel annually to enjoy her magical productions and we had the honor of meeting her this year. But, I have had the privilege over the years to meet and to study with many burlesque Legends who have inspired me to follow in their footsteps and respect the foundation they have laid for all who wish to experience the wonderful world of burlesque! When I met Penny Starr, Sr. a few years ago, she offered advice on how to have longevity in the burlesque scene and said she wished the “neo” performers would go back to classic performances of the art…she asked me to develop classic acts and respect the art as it was originally intended. I find that I am more comfortable with a classic approach to the art and I plan to strive for a more classic (and classy) flair to my performances.
Do you make your costume pieces or buy them/alter them?
I am so lucky to have the most amazingly-talented burlesque husband who makes and/or alters all of my costumes, pasties, props and accessories!!! He also guides me through concepts and choreography…we are definitely a team, but I believe he is more “Starry” than I am, at times!! If I have a vision for a costume or character, then Mr. DeLight makes the vision become reality.
What is your favorite costume or piece?
I could not pick just one favorite, but at the top of the list is my “Barbie” ensemble that includes a life-size Barbie box. The act is campy and fun and the prop garners much attention…so much so that “Starry Barbie” was invited to perform in NYC after being seen on stage at a NC festival. The first performance in NYC in a Calamity Ch
ang production led to other opportunities to perform in the Big Apple…so surreal and fabulous!!
What’s your favorite burlesque moment (This can be past or present/yours or someone else’s)?
I have been blessed to experience so many wonderful moments and memories over the years…with the honor of sharing the stage with extremely talented performers from all over the world! But, this year I received my first festival award at Burlesque!Burlesque!Burlesque! in Asheville, NC and I was so proud to share the award of “Most Deco-Rated” (that recognized the coordination of theme/costume/props) with my husband who made my props and costume for the winning act, “Ice Cream Man!” It was so exciting and fulfilling to be in the winners’ circle with a beautiful Queen and a talented performer who was Most Comedic…a favorite moment, for sure!!
What’s the funniest (or strangest) on-stage experience you have had?
I will relate my “strangest” experience…and I have experienced it a few times. It was strange for me the first time that a man walked up to me to say that he and his guests were actually crying through my performance because they had been moved to tears watching such a personal expression of heartbreak. He said my interpretation was beautiful and he could not hide his emotion. Since that time, I have had a number of people tell me that they were moved to tears by a few of my acts, thankfully from what they called a beautiful interpretation rather than a terrible performance!! ha ha I love being approached by audience members and getting their feedback…it helps me grow in art and in connection with my kind supporters!
Tell me about a time your act went awry. How did you overcome it?
Live performance always lends an opportunity for something to go awry…always!! But, I have found that when a snafu occurs, a smile or laugh while pretending the snafu is intentional will buy some time for a resolution of the problem. If possible, engaging the audience (or a member of the audience) to help with the resolution will be well received (i.e. allowing an audience member to help with a stuck zipper, remove a tangled glove/stocking, assist with a prop, etc.). The audience is experiencing the act with the performer and wants it to go well!!
You also do pole-dancing, when did you first start pole dancing and how did you get started? Did you take a class?
I started studying pole dance in 2009 with my awesome pole goddess, Natasha Fine, who founded Sheer Inspiration Pole Fitness. That year, my husband gave me a gift certificate for pole lessons in an effort to give me a break from an extremely laborious and all-consuming wildlife rehabilitation career. I am still in the pole studio weekly and pole dance gives me confidence, helps keep me fit and strong, allows me to enjoy a spiritual journey with my pole family and offers a different approach to performance art. I enjoy developing “polesque” art and performing with my beautiful and skilled SI Pole Family!!
Do you have any other extracurricular activities besides burlesque that might surprise someone?
My love for animals and my passion for animal welfare have given me the opportunity to experience the most incredible encounters and interactions over the last 3 decades as a wildlife rehabilitator and domestic animal rescuer/caretaker. I have raised thousands of wild creatures (from bunnies to bears!), rescued/rehabbed hundreds of domestic and exotic animals and worked with compassionate people dedicated to making life better for animal kind. I enjoy being a mom to three adorable Dachshunds and a feisty green-cheeked Conure; and, I currently work in a busy animal hospital.
What do your family and friends think about your burlesque?
My husband is my biggest fan and I always want to make him proud since he works so hard to help me create my stage persona and presence. My friends are extremely supportive and generous to cheer me on while I’m on stage…and off! My mother always expresses her admiration and support, even when she may find some of my acts to be risqué…she says she lives through me!! My father does not understand my burlesque involvement and does not acknowledge it, but he supports my interest in “dance projects!!” ha ha
What one piece of advice would you give to rookies thinking about trying burlesque?
My advice to anyone exploring an artistic endeavor is to always follow your heart and believe in yourself. Outside support is wonderful, but being true to oneself will make an artistic journey fulfilling and rewarding. As one grows in art and personal truth, the ability to share love from the stage to one’s audience will be returned tenfold…a true accomplishment of art and self!
What advice would you give to other dancers who are faced with opposition from friends/family/culture about what they do?
For me, “reality” is difficult and oftentimes hurtful and/or painful for many reasons. I find the most true friendships and support through the people who share my glitter world. I wish the general public would cease to make so many judgments before experiencing the burlesque world. Only after such an experience could one really be equipped to have informed opinions and “judgments” if necessary. The fans who follow burlesque performers are the best and I appreciate their love and support!
My advice for a successful burlesque existence is to carefully separate a burlesque persona from a work/muggle life persona (unless one is fortunate to make a living from the stage so that a work and burlesque persona are one and the same!). For most performers, art is a personal hobby or a “night life” that does not overlap with “day/work life.” I am careful to keep the separation and to also seek out safe spaces where others share my love of the art. I strive to remain professional in all situations and to work well with others, on and off stage. And, again, remain true to oneself and present a positive presence so that a personal and performance persona can successfully coexist.
Has your participation in burlesque changed the way in which you view yourself?
Yes…I always wish to have the confidence that Starry possesses and I have become less guarded as an individual by living through Starry’s empowerment. In years past, I would have backed down from a life situation for fear of consequences…I don’t back down anymore and I strive to have the “control” in daily life situations that I feel I have when I am on stage.
If our readers want to start dancing Burlesque, pole or anything, what advice could you give them to get up right now and get started without any money or going anywhere?
The internet provides so many resources for entertainment and education. I would suggest using the resources to search artistic interests and watch “how-to” videos and performance videos. One can mimic the videos in private practice until the desire to learn more leads to class enrollment and development of the art of choice. Anyone can start immediately and begin a journey of artistic enjoyment and expression!!
Thanks so much for sharing with us! You and your husband, Mike, are two of the kindest people I’ve ever met and I thank each of you for being you!