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Interview miss Polly Rae

Photo: William Baker

You are a burlesque performer. Who are your main influences?

I’m influenced by Burlesque stars of the past, my main influence being Gypsy Rose Lee, she inspired me as she often connected with her audience by chattering to them while she performed, she was a real comedienne which I really aspire to. I am also a child of the 80’s, I was inspired by Madonna from a very young age and chose to use her as a great influence for my ‘style’ of burlesque. Although I nod to the past I love to add a contemporary twist to my performances.

What aspect of being a burlesque performer do you like best?

The feeling of exciting and pleasuring a crowd. It’s impossible to describe the feeling I get when a crowd goes crazy as a result of something I have done, sang or said on stage.

Can you tell us about the Hurly Burly show?

I began my burlesque career in 2006 with The Hurly Burly Show, I wanted to create the biggest burlesque show in London, I started small with a few friends at the Soho Revue Bar (formally the Raymond Revue Bar) and then through a collaboration with legendary Creative Director William Baker (of Kylie Minogue fame) and his team, we went on to 3 successful seasons in the West End. It was a poptastic, big scale, burlesque production with an all-female cast of 7 that was sexy, witty, fun and fabulous. Needless to say I achieved that dream! Was a wonderful experience.

Photo: Ayesha H.

What is your opinion on cabaret culture in the UK?

It has evolved greatly over the years, these days Burlesque is very much combined with other art forms that can go under the umbrella of Cabaret including Circus and Variety entertainment. Very sadly a lot of the venues and places for us to play in London have closed down so there aren’t as many shows around as there used to be but thanks to shows like La Soiree and venues like the Hippodrome, Café De Paris, the London Wonderground and the arrival of many more ‘Spiegeltents’, cabaret culture is very much still alive and kicking, more and more people are enjoying alternative entertainment. So I still have a job! I actually currently have a show at the Hippodrome every Saturday night with the ‘Soho Burlesque Club’ and I also have a show at the London Wonderground ‘Between The Sheets’ over the Summer. Both are high energy, sexy, fun, variety shows that combine Cabaret, Burlesque and Circus.

Can you say something about how your acts are developed?

Inspiration for an act can come from anywhere, a song, a piece of clothing, an idea for a theme. Every act is developed differently. Once you have one of those elements you build the missing pieces into it. For example, in ‘Between The Sheets’ we have an Equestrian themed number, it came about from my love of the R&B song ‘Pony’ by Ginuwine. The song came first then the costume, then we developed a burlesque dance routine. I dress as a lady of the Royal Hunt and I have my horses in the form of two male dancers, as the act goes on I become a horse complete with my own red tail! It’s cheeky and fun.

Photo: Dan Burgess

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