“You Can Do Anything, You’re a Princess!” – or, how I went to burlesque summer camp

burlesque summer camp

The idea of burlesque-themed vacation may seem a little risky. Burlesque’s natural habitat is rather the city, the club, the night. Meanwhile, a group of burlesque fans (both female and male!) under the leadership of our burlesque mother, Betty Q, went to New Kawkowo for a burlesque summer camp.

burlesque summer camp

Relaxing in a hammock.


I have written many times that burlesque is not a dance style. And, as I expected, there were no dance classes during this trip. There was a series of workshops on a variety of topics, very widely associated with burlesque – from a mind map, through history and discussion on scientific text (there are such in existence!), though classes on body awareness and coordination, and of course a YouTube party with watching the most interesting burlesque performances from all over the world. In addition, a short instruction class on tassel twirling was a must. Everyday we could (but were not obliged to) participate in a morning warm-up and typical sports class conducted by Vila Vanilla. Another interesting addition was a presentation and discussion about the art of drag and how it connects to burlesque, led by two drag performers (Yalla Yalla and Chirusska). In short, there was no way we could complain about being bored!

burlesque summer camp

Modern Cindy Crawford, our Vila Vanilla

burlesque summer camp

Vacation meaning dolce far niente? Not here 😀

burlesque summer camp

We learned about the benefits of cooperation by dressing ourselves in a boa, gloves and petticoat and by eating chocolate… really! 


I really, really liked how diverse a group we were. Our group had people of all ages, with varying degrees of stage experience and knowledge of burlesque, but also with a whole range of own interests and skills that could be useful in burlesque and in everyday life. As a result, we were also extremely self-sufficient – we cooked out own (delicious!) food, organized all our activities and trips to the nearby lake. The sense of community between us all was very, very nice.

burlesque summer camp

Eating meals in the open air, at one table (well, we added a second one) – BEST <3

burlesque summer camp

This is more or less how we all looked together 🙂


The house were we were staying was great. At the end of the post I put a link to its website so that you can find more information, but let me just write that a place where in each room you can find a record player with a collection of vinyl records, a swing (sic!) or a huge bookcase, has my seal of approval.

Most classes took place either in the living room or in the barn. The barn was very spacious and equipped to have physical classes there, so we used it almost every day, no matter the weather. We also had two improvised showcases there – one was the culmination of a burlesque challenge, during which we had to create acts-tributes to the burlesque legends. The other was a presentation of acts on which we wanted to get feedback from the audience.

Let me tell you, performing in a barn is a real school of life for any performer. Zero backstage, no stage, one spotlight – in such circumstance the strength of the performance is everything. I don’t think it’s possible to have this intimacy with the audience on a club stage – but maybe it’s also the matter of the fact that we performed for each other. We were, however, joined by the house owner and his friends, as well as a team of yogins who were also staying in the house.

burlesque summer camp

View from the doorstep. Just lay down on a blanket and enjoy!

burlesque summer camp

Vila Vanilla taking a sun bath.

Was it worth it?

The program of the trup was planned in such a way that both the people who are completely new to burlesque and those who already have some experience, had something to do. It somehow happened that in the group I was the one with the longest “seniority” after Betty (it’s been… 4 years already?) but I too learned something new, both about burlesque and about myself as a performer.

It is important for me that one of the aims of the activities was to make the people who often make up our audience realize that there is something more to burlesque than just attractive visuals. I don’t think I will forget the discussion about whether burlesque and striptease are different, how, and whether they are feminist. The same goes for biographies of some of the burlesque starts who I knew by their names but did not know anything about their personal stories.

The whole experience was a great pleasure for me and I will be most happy to repeat it. Anyway, even before leaving this magical place we agreed with the owner for a date for the next year! Who knows, maybe next time I will play the role of the teacher?

The house in New Kawkowo

Akademia Burleski Betty Q

burlesque summer camp

burlesque summer camp

Beautiful little lake whose name I don’t know but I went skinny dipping in it 😀

burlesque summer camp

Last but not least, me on vacation – without makeup but stylish nonetheless 🙂

Burlesque Bible Colouring Book

Burlesque Bible Colouring Book

Burlesque Bible, as some of my readers may know, is Europe’s most prominent burlesque-themed magazine. I had the pleasure of having one of my favourite posts printed in the Fall 2013 issue. When I read their newsletter announcing the publication of Burlesque Bible Colouring Book, I immediately pre-ordered it, because, well, burlesque and colouring books!

What’s The Deal With Adult Colouring Books?

Adult colouring books are becoming more and more popular. This is due to the proven fact that art therapy reduces stress. While adult colouring books are not the same as art therapy (which should still be done with an educated therapist), colouring can help with symptoms of depression. Why? Because it is manual work, which helps alleviating anxiety by focusing on the work at hand. And it’s good for you especially when you’re not comfortable with other forms of creative expression (because you’re filling in an image created by someone else, which is safer). In addition to this, you’re working with colours and you can see the result of your work instantly. Plus, these colouring books for adults are just so damn pretty.


What’s Inside?

Burlesque Bible Colouring Book is the fourth colouring book I bought. I also have two art deco colouring books and a Harry Potter one (Slytherin pride!).

This colouring book contains 16 pages with hand-drawn artwork featuring Dita Von Teese, Hilda, Gil Elvgren’s art, corsets, retro lingerie… there’s even an e-mail link if you want free digital copies of individual drawings!

What Do I Think?

Honestly, I thought there would be a bit more illustrations. For £5.50, 16 pages is not very much. Also, I’m not a big fan of the sketchy style of the illustrations. But I love the quality of the publication and the idea behind the book is sooooo me so I’m looking forward to channeling my inner Olivia De Berardinis.

burlesque bible colouring book

You can have a go at it by yourselves and buy the colouring book here! They may be sold out at the moment but if there’s enough interest, Helene of BB promised reprints!

Difficult words to use when talking about why burlesque is, despite the appearances, an intellectual activity (or at least it can be)


Dedicated to my mom.


Cultural and social identity associated to one’s biological sex. An object of fear and misuderstanding among heavily Catholic communities. Gender is understood as a sum of personality traits, behaviors, social roles and stereotypes understood as belonging to a given biological sex but not directly resulting from it. Contrary to what one might hear in a Polish church, gender is not endorsing any specific rules or behaviors (especially sexual ones). Gender studies make us wonder why we think of something as feminine or masculine and what are the social consequences of such thinking for us and others.


Not the summer one and not Kamp! (an excellent music band). Camp is a kind of hipster aesthetic. Something is cool precisely because it’s kitch. Ironically cool. The notion of camp appeared at the times of counter-culture of the 1960s. Accoording to Susan Sontag, who in 1964 published an essay Notes on Camp, the essence of this convention is conscious preferences to that which is clearly artificial, exaggerated. Kitsch may be unconscious, but camp is always premeditated.

Camp is art that proposes itself seriously, but cannot be taken altogether seriously because it is “too much.”

What art is camp? Ballet. Fashion (haute couture!). Glam rock. Drag. And of course burlesque!


In the context of burlesque we talk about normative and non-normative body. Normative body is the mainstream body. The one you see on TV, the Internet, on the covers of magazines. The body you think „normal” of in your cultural-social context. Non-normative body is any body that does not fit your standard. Talking about body normativity makes us wonder, what kind of bodies we consider “normal” and what kind of bodies are unusual and deviating from “the norm”.


The concept of gender perfomativity appear in Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble. Gender performativity means the the way of contructing one’s gender through play and repetition. Performativeness is then a concept turning our attention to the artificiality of activities highlighting our gender affinity. Such activity is, for example, make up or wearing a particular kind of clothing. It can be talking in a certain way. It can be correcting someone’s behavior as “unbecoming” of a person of specific gender. Gender performativity (like majority of “normsl”) is most evident when it is opposed, e.g. in drag show. Drag culture (here understood as performing as someone of a different gender than one’s own) has a long and rich tradition in theatre, pantomime, opera, later of course in the cinema, TV and contemporary music. Drag queens and kings are people specializing in performances where the idea is to show gender in an exaggerated, comical way.

Interesting fact: I studied American literaturę and I had a course titled „Literature – psychoanalysis – feminism” where we also discussed Butler. The conclusion of this class was „Every gender performance is a bit drag” 

I must admit that this is one of the reasons I like to say I’m a burlesque “performer” – because burlesque for me is a performance.


In the considered context (which is gender vs. sex), subversion is behavior or attitude negating the normative opinion on sex, gender or sexuality. Subversive behaviors denounce and undermine gender mechanisms and gender-related stereotypes; they deconstruct established bipolar divisions, androcentrism and heteronormativity (this I will not explain, check it out yourselves). This can be done in two ways – by taking behaviour of gender other than one’s „own” or by exaggerating behavior associated with one’s gender. You can also change the context of a specific behavior or stereotype, e.g. by taking a heteronormative song, film, tradition and embedding it in a queer context.

Third-wave feminism

If the first wave of feminism dealt with the position of women in the legal and educational context (the right to education, the right to vote, the right to own property) and the second in the professional and sexual context (gender equality at work, the right to contraception and abortion), then the third wave of feminism focuses on the importance of such factors as race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or socio-economic position in women’s empowerment. The emphasis is put not only on fighting against gender-based violence, fighting for reproductive rights, but also linguistic violence, supporting motherhood, and finally freedom of expression of womanhood. So in a nutshell – a woman does not have to give up make up and high heels to call herself a feminist. She can be a wife and a mother, she can be single, she can work in a corporation, she lead a household and still be a feminist. In the context of burlesque? She can show her body onstage and still be a feminist. She can make her act a performance using camp, using stereotypes associated with what a woman does and how a woman looks and make it a personal manifesto. Or she can just have fun and enjoy her body and her sexuality. And still be a feminist.

“Neo-burlesque performers, like strippers in nightclubs, play out fantasies about a woman, but we should note a significant shift happening in neo-burlesque scene. Firstly, performers working on an act go back to their own fantasis, seek their own alternative femininity. Secondly, these ideas constitute in an audience a kind of meta-fantasy of a self-confident woman who fully accepts her own body and is not ashamed of her sexuality, in other words, is not ashamed to desire and to be desired”


(Agata Łuksza, “Corsets, stockings, pasties. Femininity in neo-burlesque”, Tematy z Szewskiej 1(11)/2014, Wrocław)*

*translation mine

Burlesque – Audience Etiquette

burlesque audience etiquette.jpg

When I started this blog, I never expected that one of its most popular categories would be performance reviews. However, since I am a regular guest at burlesque shows in Warsaw and often outside of it too, I’d like to share with you some tips on audience behaviour during a burlesque performance.

1. If you like it, let them know.
Someone’s taking off a part of their clothing? You want someone to take off a part of their clothing? You see something you like? Cheer, applaud. There is nothing more disheartening than performing in front of an audience made of stone. Stamp, yell, clap, whistle! I guarantee you that performers like it! The energy from the audience gives them the energy to perform, and they, by performing in front of you, give you that energy back. There is no good show without this exchange! So don’t be shy to openly respond to something you like. There’s nothing wrong with – this is the sign of being experienced with this kind of show! Share it with your friends! Invited them to the next show!

2. Don’t be afraid.
Sometimes the performers invite people from the audience to participate in their act. It’s an honour so work with them and trust the person inviting you – you will never be asked to do anything you won’t be able to. Remember that your refusal tests the performer’s creativity and take into account that it may also result in a reaction from them – the performer whacking you with a cloth or splashing you with the vodka shot you didn’t want to drink 😉

3. Get into the style.
I fervently believe that a Special Occasion requires a Special Outfit. I know that not all of you agree, nevertheless I will try to convince you to put a little bit of an effort into preparing for an outing.
So you’re going to a burlesque show? Wouldn’t it be a nice break from everyday clothes, to dress more elegantly? Burlesque fans (myself included) often dress up for these shows in clothes they love but can’t wear on a daily basis. Most of the shows do not have a strict dress code but I guarantee that seeing people dressed fancily will only turn up the atmosphere of a hot performance. So please – ladies, dust off your corsets, stockings and fascinators. Gentlemen, wear nice shoes and a jacket (I dare not dream of a bow tie). Cocktail style is your friend!

4. Souvenirs from the show.
In most cases there is an element of striptease in burlesque. Performers often shed pieces of their clothing by throwing it into the audience. This doesn’t mean these are gifts – if someone (usually a stage kitten, the person who is in charge of collecting costumes and preparing the stage for acts) asks you to return the gloves or stockings that you caught, give them back. Costumes are expensive. Buying or making a new one for each show is expensive and unprofitable. But, for instance, if a performer’s boa loses a feather, you are welcome to keep it as a souvenir 🙂

5. Photographs.
If it’s not clearly stated (it might be!), most performance artists have nothing against taking pictures from the show. The bon ton is to take pictures without the flash so as to not blind the performers in a critical moment (they’d certainly want to avoid that).

6. What not to do?
Regardless of the amount of alcohol consumes, shouting stuff like “Show your tits” is absolutely out of place. Actually, this kind of shouting is always out of place. The same applies to criticizing the show loudly and attempting to grab any part of the performer’s body – unless they clearly give consent. Basically, a controlled consumption is recommended so that you don’t think you are more interesting than what’s happening on stage 😉
And beyond that? Don’t sit in the last row. The first has a much better view. Turn off the sound on your phone, too. You’ll be too busy to pick it up anyway.


Many thanks to Betty Q for helping me write this post!

Title graphic uses the “Red Stage Curtain” image by Sethoscope, released under BY-NC-SA license.

Happy birthday to me!

happy birthday to me

It’s my birthday today, so I took a little liberty of preparing a wish list of gifts I will perhaps give to myself one day 🙂

1. Maya Hansen corset. I liked the Cake line the most but unfortunately it’s mostly unavailable now. However, after seeing the corset available in LiParie, I’d gladly have any of them. They’re beautifully made.

Maya Hansen

2. A Lady Carotta dress. Again, when I look at them, I’d gladly have them all 🙂 But the houndstooth one would be great both for work and for a retro party.

Lady Carotta

3. Burlesque and the Art of the Teese / Fetish and the Art of the Teese. Dita Von Teese’s albums do not need a justification.

Dita Von Teese

4. A ticket to London Burlesque Festival. One of the biggest burlesque festivals in the world. 10 evenings filled with shows from stars such as Catherine D’Lish, Marianne Cheesecake, Eliza Delite or our own Betty Q! I think this one doesn’t really need a justification either 😉

London Burlesque Festival

5. In a year from now , perform onstage with my own act. Oh, I wish.