Burlesque: Tricks of the Trade Part 3

The ABC’s Tricks of the Trade blog is back this week with two Scottish stars of the burly scene: Glasgow’s own shimmy-shaking temptress and bird lover Kim Khaos, and Edinburgh-based performer, model and photographer Hettie Heartache.

First up, Kim has some general tips for starting out your burlesque career. Recently returned from competing in the Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival’s ‘Legends in the Making’ newcomer contest, Miss Khaos is a regular at Glasgow’s Riding Room and is notorious for her high-energy bump n’ grind antics, both onstage and off.
So what advice does she have to offer?

“Learn some basic sewing/tailoring techniques for those pre-show costume emergencies! I can’t count the amount of times I’ve shimmied layers of fringing loose!”

Wise words indeed. Given the DIY ethos of burlesque, it’s not uncommon to see performers huddled backstage conducting some last-minute repairs to costumes half an hour before they hit the stage.

Kim Khaos
Kim Khaos

When it comes to act development, she says “Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when coming up with new acts – you never know where your imagination will take you!” True indeed. As we’ve said before, burlesque offers a creative freedom unlike other art forms, meaning you can literally make it whatever you want it to be, thematically, stylistically, visually and more.

Next up we have former ABC student and international burlesque performer Hettie Heartache. Starting out at our Edinburgh Dance Base classes in 2006, Hettie has gone on to perform throughout the UK and Europe and is a regular face at the London Burlesque Festival each year. Hettie is also known for her skills as a model and photographer, so she has a number of tips and suggestions for you.
To begin with, she has some advice for those of you interested in using corsets in your acts.

“I use a lot of corsets within my acts – I can corset my natural waist of 26 inches to 20 inches,” she tells us. “Get a proper steel boned corset as these will give you the best body shape – the ones I use are mostly from What Katie Did which I customise for my acts to make them unique. Once you get your corset, it will need to be ‘broken in’ to your body shape, which takes time and practise.”
She has a few more tips to aid in corset removal:

1. Tie the bow of the corset in the middle rather than the bottom making it easier to find the lacing making it easier to undo.

2. Make sure you can remove the corset without unlacing it or use a corset with a zipper. I’ve had my laces get tangled on many occasion and you want to make sure that you can still make your act look flawless if this happens on stage.

3. Struggling to remove your corset? I always take a deep breath in when undoing the busk at the front of the corset. This both gives a look of ecstasy and makes it easier to remove.

Hettie Heartache. Copyright KM Photography.
Hettie Heartache.
Copyright KM Photography.

Next, she moves onto the subject of posing. As a professional photographer, as well as model and performer, she has a unique perspective and understanding about posing techniques which can only be learned from experience on both sides of the lens. Hettie’s top posing tips are:

1. Work out your best assets – great bum? Fantastic boobs? Dazzling smile? Ask the photographer to show these off!

2. Turn partially sideways towards the camera as this makes you appear slimmer and taller.

3. Push your shoulders back place your tongue on the top of your mouth and open your mouth slightly. Practice looking in the mirror – this may feel a bit silly at first but it makes the best of your jawline, collarbone and helps to eliminate a double chin.

And there we have it! Some excellent advice from this week’s guest performers and lots for you to go and practise. Thank you to Kim and Hettie for being part of Tricks of the Trade, we will be back again soon with more burlesque tips and advice, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, if you missed our first couple of Tricks of the Trade blogs, you can catch up here:
Tricks of the Trade Part 1
Tricks of the Trade Part 2: Aurora Winterborn & Havana Hurricane