Interview with The Vacant Ladies Burlesque Company Featured

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The wonderful Vacant Ladies and there production team The wonderful Vacant Ladies and there production team

Meet the Vacant Ladies, a group of burlesque dancers from Leeds. Scarlet Pout, Fluffy Muffin, Golden Days and Flossy Framboise, with the aid of their rather fantastic production team, have been offering tantalizing titillation to their audiences for over a year. I thought I’d have a chingwag with Scarlet Pout, Golden Days and Fluffy Muffin and see what I couldn’t find out about them and the wonderful world of burlesque.

B: So, how did the Vacant Ladies start?

Scarlet Pout : Well I believe it all started in Fresher’s week when me and Golden Days were at that stage where we didn’t really know each other, we were talking, and randomly got onto the subject of burlesque. I whipped out my Dita Von Teese book and we were both like, ‘We love Dita Von Tesse, if only we could do burlesque' and then Golden Days was like, ‘well you know there’s that Drama Festival coming up at Leeds University?' so we put in a proposal and they said 'When can you do it?!?' 

B: So would you say Dita Von Teese is an inspiration for you in the world of burlesque?

Scarlet Pout: Um I would say she’s the most accessible burlesque dancer to be honest and I think it did make the movement of burlesque more public, so I think in a way, yes but in terms of the kind of new burlesque that you see in clubs it’s quite different, because that burlesque is a lot about the comedy and she’s more about the aesthetics and the very traditional.

B: Do you get completely naked in your shows?

Golden Days: No, (laughs), no we don’t.

Fluffy Muffin: It depends what kind of role you play, I’m the maid so I don’t get naked at all but the other girls get into nipple tassels and their scanty knickers

Scarlet Pout: Yeah, it’s good to get a treat (laughs).

B: Can you tell us a who the Vacant Ladies are and what your shows are about

Golden Days: Well we do them because we think we’re really hot, and the public needs to see that! No I’m only joking. It’s about what do housewives get up to when their husbands are away, in a sort of jokey, taking the piss kind of way so if something breaks, they try and fix it as the man isn’t there to save them and it goes on and on, they get happier being on their own, so I suppose it’s a joke, it’s satire, but I think the general message of that is 'We are strong independent women who don’t need no man!' (laughs)

B: So, would you say your show has a political stance to it?

Golden Days: I wouldn’t necessarily say it was political it’s got a… 

Fluffy Muffin: It’s a stance..

Golden Days:  It’s meant to be a really simple story line and the main point is to demonstrate a socialist message and it’s meant to have overtones of ‘I’m stripping, this is why' and 'isn’t it fun to make fun of these stereotypes and the rules we might see in society'.

Scarlet Pout: It’s playing on the whore roles that we’re trying to portray, well that’s what I take from it anyway and we start off with doing domestic activities, everything’s perfect, aren’t we so pretty, aren’t we so untouchable and just put us on pedestals and we do these sexualised things and you can still be, and I’m using this very losely, the perfect woman, it’s  OK to be in touch with your sexuality. I feel like it’s less rigid now but for years and years and years, we have been put into two separate categories, we’re trying to combine them and show that it’s on a scale.

Fluffy Muffin: It’s the same thing as Beyoncé, we are empowering ourselves but owning our bodies . That’s how I always think of it

Golden Days: For me, the nakedness isn’t the whole point, it’s about empowering myself to know that I can be entertaining and put on something that is visually impressive. It’s about putting women on stage and giving women opportunities.

B: Can you understand why some people think of burlesque as Jenna Jameson in Vintage clothing?

Scarlet Pout: If your in a strip club you’re a paying customer, you're paying for a service, you’re the one in control, you have the money. Whereas with burlesque you're paying for a performance, they are performing and you're coming to watch them so they’re not performing for you, they’re putting on a performance and your paying to go and see them, so I think the power roles shifted really.

Fluffy Muffin: Burlesque, I find it’s a lot more for women

Scarlet Pout: It’s normally women who see our shows. Straight men rarely see our shows. They find it incredibly uncomfortable and intimidating.

Do you ever get nervous taking your clothes off in front of a room full of people, especially when there's a sexual voyeurism to it?

Golden Days: If you think it’s voyeuristic, you’ve missed the point. Voyeurism is looking through somebody’s bedroom window. Going to a show, that instantly makes it not voyeuristic 'cos there’s a stage there so, no.

Scarlet Pout: I don’t get nervous because I feel like it’s not me up there. It would be the same thing if you were in a play. It’s not me, it’s me pretending to be somebody doing this. I’m playing somebody whose getting naked. There’s a huge difference.

Golden Days: There’s so many more things to be nervous about. I’m more nervous about smiling 'cos I hate my teeth so I’m more nervous about the audience seeing my teeth than I am my tits.

B: Why do you think burlesque has become such a popular fascination with audiences today?

Scarlet Pout: I think’s it Dita Von Teese’s career, which had bought it to the public attention. Also, not to go all Germaine Greer on your arse, but we’re in third wave feminism now, we are at stage where as women there is still work to be done but we’re also at a stage where we can put on a show and get naked and that’s ok; that’s not going backwards. It gives women opportunities and the freedom to do whatever they want. That’s why the controversy of burlesque is good because we can talk about it and have a debate about it.

What’s your favourite aspect about being a Vacant Lady?

Scarlet Pout: Nothing, I hate it (laughs). No I think we’re all here, we all have so much fun, we all help each other out, we all create these shows together. I have such a wonderful experience doing it and I can’t imagine not having this in my life.

Fluffy Muffin: I personally will never tire of nipple pasties 'cos they’re hilarious.

Golden Days: It’s just fun to be somebody else for a bit.


Joanna Bateson-Hill

Originating from Brixton, London, I study Theatre and Performance at University of Leeds. I love everything to do with film, theatre and most of all writing, with the occasional bit of swimming thrown in for good measure. I hope to write articles that make people laugh but also make them think. To me, writing is a fun, cheap and healthier form of therapy. I hope that people have as much fun reading my articles as I do writing them, which is a lot.


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