2012 Miss Burlesque Australia – Briana Bluebell – The Bell of the Ball
By Alyssa Kitt
If you were lucky enough to have a seat in Sydney’s Enmore Theatre the year that Briana Bluebell took out the title, you would remember having your jaw firmly fixed on the floor as she straddled a towering, rotating 6 foot gun in the splits as it shot confetti across the audience.
From classic glamour to the ultimate Bond bombshell, Briana’s performances in her winning year were svelte, strong and scintillating.
Briana Bluebell started performing burlesque in Sydney in 2008 after seeing London show Miss Polly Rae and the Hurly Burly Girlies. With a background in ballet and modern contemporary dance, her presence onstage was often described as captivating. With a dash of sass and old-worldly beauty, Briana truly channels the likes of Vivien Leigh, Audrey Hepburn and Ann Miller.
Briana’s Miss Burlesque Australia journey began in 2010, where she took out the first Miss Burlesque NSW and ended up placing Miss Burlesque Australia 1st runner up 2010. Briana’s costumes were often crafted by her own hand, a whizz with feathers and delicate needlework for embellishment. In fact, she featured in Marie Claire’s feature on MBA talking about her amazing multitasking and love of costuming. “It’s not uncommon to see me answering phones at work while sewing something on a costume that is sitting in my lap. In fact, there’s rarely a moment she doesn’t have a handful of feathers and a mouthful of pins.”
Briana has been a much loved darling of Australian burlesque for many years, performing at community showcases such as old Sydney favourites A Velvet Affair, The Ruby Revue and Mr Falcons, as well as at the créme de la créme of luxury corporate events for the likes of Merivale, Mastercard, Nova, Bendon, MTV and Mercedes-Benz.
Since her win in 2012, Briana has performed on the Burlesque Hall of Fame stage in Las Vegas twice. First performing at the Movers and Shakers showcase with her 2010 Miss Burlesque Australia 1st runner up routine, before returning to compete for a coveted spot in the best debut section in 2016 (yes the bumper year that we had nothing short of half the category – 5 Australians competing.) Briana then dropped the bombshell announcement that she was due to have a baby girl!!!
Miss Burlesque Australia associate producer Alyssa Kitt caught up with Briana to chat about her competition experiences and thoughts on MBA for 2018.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Representing Australia competing in the Best Debut category 2016 while 14 weeks pregnant at the Burlesque Hall of Fame was something I was so excited and proud to be part of. It was a very special moment knowing it would be one of my last performances while I focused on my baby girl and took some time off. Since then I have started my agency Pretty Lady Co. which was born out of constantly finding myself turning down opportunities unable to perform and not having a directory to give my clients to to find another suitable act. Having the website set up meant I could send clients there to find other performers and different types of acts to save me time sending information every time I received an enquiry!
How did competing and winning Miss Burlesque Australia impact your burlesque career?
MBA was still gaining momentum in 2012 so for me it wasn’t so much about opportunities being presented to me because of winning but more the beautiful acts I had created in order to win the title that gave me a real boost in the industry because I could offer a professional and high-end repertoire to clientele which I had not been able to offer previously. I put so much hard work into my costumes and routines to achieve a high quality and that was the real benefit of competing – it pushed me to be the absolute best I could be. It gave me a deadline I had to work to and complete my routines. For me winning was more of a personal achievement and a goal to work toward than something that I wanted for public recognition.
Apart from that time when our costumes got mixed up in the mail and I got the world’s tiniest corset and you got some mint green underwear – what was your scariest MBA moment?
It would probably be with my giant gun prop. The stage manager had pulled the power cord out to use the powerpoint for something else during rehearsals and unbeknownst to me forgot about it! So thankfully one of the stage kittens realised DURING my act and plugged it back in, so eventually my gun started rotating, even though it was at the wrong time and teh confetti cannon shot off across the audience at the wrong time – but at least it happened! Otherwise all that time and effort would have gone to waste!
That moment is legendary in MBA history and really kicked off the start of the big props for Grand Finals! Everyone had to try to one up to win! What advice would you give to a first time Miss Burlesque competitor?
Don’t take yourself or the competition too seriously. Take it as an opportunity to fine-tune your existing routines or create some really high quality new routines that no matter the result, can be used in your portfolio to present to clients for future work.If you are a particularly new performer use this as a learning curve – watch your competitors and see what it is that gives them that edge over you. Practise in front of a mirror and see what angles make you look good and which poses are most flattering for you. Something that feels really weird and exaggerated can actually look amazing when executed on stage and often a routine can look lazy and boring if you don’t exaggerate your moves. Don’t get ahead of yourself and just expect that you will place. Be open to constructive criticism. Be humble backstage and help out your fellow competitors because we’re all in this together and no one likes an over-inflated ego!
What are you looking forward to seeing from Miss Burlesque Australia contestants in 2018?
I love seeing new concepts and ideas and mostly just how performers have improved over the years. I am always looking for new up and coming performers to put forward for shows so it’s great to see new talent as well!
We would like to wish Briana all the best with Pretty Lady Co (which you can visit here: https://www.prettyladyco.com/home) and of course spending time being a new Mum with her beautiful daughter!
Follow Briana on her social media: