Miss Burlesque WA 2018 – Scarlet Adams
Interview by Alyssa Kitt
“Make ’em laugh, make ’em laugh, don’t you know ev’ry one wants to laugh?” Those eternal words from Singing in the Rain funnyman Donald O’Connar ring true on any stage and Scarlet Adams certainly had the Astor Theatre audience at the Miss Burlesque WA State Finals in stitches.
She’s silly, comedic and a self-confessed Glamoursaurus – Scarlet Adams is the newly crowned Miss Burlesque Western Australia 2018. Paving the way forward in ludicrous seven inch platform heels Scarlet is the first Drag Queen to compete in Miss Burlesque Australia history. Her style fuses a highly glamorous aesthetic with snappy, satirical, comedy queen wit, bringing a dramatic shake up and a healthy dose of diversity to the crown-wearing elite heading to this year’s MBA Grand Final.
Alyssa Kitt caught up with the comedy queen of the hour Scarlet Adams.
First of all – huge congratulations on taking out the State title for Miss Burlesque WA! It was a big final with a crazy good lineup! You must be thrilled! What was the first thing that came into your head when you were announced you Miss Burlesque WA?
Thank you so much! I honestly did not expect to win. The girls I competed against are so beautiful and so talented! I thought I would do well and hopefully get second runner up or runner up, as performing is something I have done for a long time, as often as 3-4 times a week so I feel so at home on the stage. When they called out Essie and Fifi, my first thought was “damn, I didn’t even place!” But when they called my name for the title. My mind was blown! I couldn’t believe it! And it’s so funny that I got crowned looking like an old bitty! I can just imagine people who didn’t come to show looking at the winners photos and being like “What the F**k is going on here!”
“I am through and through a comedy queen. People love to laugh, and I love to entertain.”
You’re an established drag performer, how long have you been performing burlesque. What was your first experience of burlesque?
I’ve been doing drag for a while now, six years! But I still feel like I’m in the beginning of my professional career. In drag we often do a lot of quick reveals, which i guess in essence has its roots in burlesque. My first exposure to real burlesque was during the fringe festival three or so years ago and ever since then I had wanted to do it, but never had. My first burlesque routine I performed at Drag Factory at the Court Hotel on a Wednesday night about one and half years ago. It was liberating!
What do you think is your most identifiable aspect to you as a performer? What is Scarlet Adams famous for?
I am through and through a comedy queen. People love to laugh, and I love to entertain. Nothing brings me greater joy than seeing someone doubled over with tear in their eye from laughing so hard. I will turn anything I can into comedy. In the past I have performed Sinead O’Connor’s ‘Nothing Compares to you’ and Whitney Houston’s ‘I look to you’ – both serious ballads, into comedy routines.
Do you come from a performance background?
As a kid I was often in dance, acting, modelling classes. I did lots of plays and stuff like that as a kid, but I never really had full on professional training. It wasn’t until I turned 18 and delve head first into the Drag scene that I started to get real performance experience. Dancing wise though I looked like a wounded gazelle on stage.
After winning the big drag competition we have in Perth, Queen of the Court, in 2013, I was scouted by a professional ballroom dancer looking for a drag dance partner, and now I have five years of professional ballroom dance training under my sequin belt. We competed together in several same-sex ballroom competitions and won lots of prizes.
What made you want to enter Miss Burlesque Australia this year?
I went to the Miss Burlesque State semifinals last year and had a grin on my face from ear to ear the whole time! I wanted to be one of those fabulous ladies! It was also the Mr Boylesque finals! There was a drag king who competed who did an incredible comedy routine about cinderella’s glass slipper. It was exactly my style of silly hysterical comedy, and I was in stitches! After the routine someone that I was sitting next to began to say how they thought it was ‘disgusting’ that MBA let a drag king compete for Mr Boylesque, and how it would be just as disgusting if a drag queen were to compete for Miss Burlesque. They said, “Miss Burlesque is for women and Mr Boylesque is for men!” For someone who desperately wanted to be apart of the burlesque scene it was a kick in the guts and it really got under my skin. I looked at the MBA website and read their blurb about how they supported any performer in the LGBT+ community and it lifted my spirit. So I guess I applied this year as a big F**K you to anyone who tries to tell people they aren’t allowed to be apart of something because of the genitals they have between their legs.
How did you prepare for the WA State Finals? How are you going to go into the Grand Final?
I wanted to be super true to myself and my style entering into this competition, and I think I did that! I definitely pushed myself out of my comfort zone, but stayed true to me as a performer. Going into the grand finals, I’m doubling down, and taking all of the judges feedback into account! More practice of those trickier reveals and extra rhinestones/ feathers!
Tell me about your traditional routine.
My traditional routine is a 40’s inspired routine and is definitely a step out of the box for me. I chose not to lip-sync to keep in that traditional aspect of the routine, but I chose a song with lyrics that I know I could portray with my body and face. I put a little comedy in there to keep it true to me and I am the most glamorous version of me I could possibly be.
Judge and Miss Burlesque WA 2016 Sugar Du Joure said, ”Props to Scarlet Adams for that Unique. That really was the act of the night! I can try to describe it but I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise. She had the audience in fits of laughter non stop, the act was incredibly well presented, polished and definitely unique.” What did you do for your unique and how do you think it will set you apart going into the Grand Final?
My unique is purely comedy and entertainment. I’m doing a number as Queen Elizabeth gone wild! It’s definitely very drag, and I think that’s what sets me apart. I mean I’m certainly going to look a lot different, being that I’m in a full facial prosthetic and a bodysuit.
In your thank you post you made special mention of MBA supporting the LGBT+ community. And said, “So many people have set views on what drag is or what burlesque and who should be allowed to do it. Burlesque and drag is for everyone, no matter what your gender is! I’m so excited to see how these two worlds are getting more and more fused and the lines are blurred!”
I wanted to make a special thanks to MBA for supporting the LGBT+ community because it was so important to me. I am the first drag queen to compete and I wanted to be a pioneer for colliding these two worlds and for future queens. Drag and burlesque and been crossing over a lot in the last several years and I find it really exciting. We have several queens in Perth who do burlesque routines, and I’ve been putting Burlesque into the drag shows I produced, to expose the LGBT community to it! One of my all time favourite burlesque performers, Ruby Slippers, paints a full on drag face when she performs, and often lip syncs. So I wanted to thank MBA for supporting that diversity! I mean when has diversity ever been a bad thing?!
Did you enjoy your Miss Burlesque WA experience?
I loved my WA finalist experience, the other competitors were so lovely and welcoming! I would definitely recommend anyone wanting to compete do it. Just know, these girls are fiercely talented!
Keep your eyes on Scarlet Adams coming up to the Miss Burlesque Australia Grand Final.