Miss Burlesque ACT 2018| Artemis Seven
“Describe yourself to me in three words,” I asked. Artemis responded with three words that conjured up a strange and unsettling air. “Selcouth, inventive, staccato.”
‘Selcouth’ – unusual, rare, unfamiliar yet wondrous. Staccato – the jagged aural jabs that bounce and pop like a twitching bunny. Inventive – well on linguistics alone I think we’re onto something here.
Artemis Seven is ethereal, unworldly and breathing a fresh aura of weird over Canberra’s burlesque scene. I first saw Artemis onstage licking a bloody spleen last year for Decadence and Debauchery and immediately knew she had something special. Just under two years into performing burlesque, Artemis has settled into a direction that reverberates with the mystical – watching her is like stumbling onto witnessing something that is both grotesque and beautiful, something that you know will alter your reality forever.
Named after one of the most widely venerated ancient Greek deities, the name Artemis alone carries heavy historical and literary connotations. In Illiad Homer describes her as “Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals” – and indeed you can almost see the wilderness in Miss Burlesque ACT 2018’s sprite-like eyes.
Last year, this strange sleuth was on am uphill annihilation of Australian burlesque competitions – she was the winner of Burlesque Idol Canberra and placed runner up in the Australian Burlesque Festival’s New Follies.
Alyssa Kitt caught up with Artemis Seven to chat about being wacky, finding one’s niche and “feelings of simultaneous arousal and discomfort.”
First of all – huge congratulations on taking out the State title for Miss Burlesque ACT! What was the first thing that came you thought when your name was read out as Miss Burlesque ACT?
Thank you! I’m very excited. I was in awe. I had no idea how it would play out. I didn’t see any of the acts on the night, so all I had was my perception of how I went and we all know we’re our own worst critics. I was really really happy though, so overwhelmed. It made me really excited about my work again, and made me think I need to work harder & push myself as far as I can, and stop being afraid.
You are a relative newcomer to burlesque, how long have you been performing? What was your first experience of burlesque?
I’ve been in burlesque for under two years so I’m still very fresh to it, but I’ve been performing in some capacity since I was enrolled in a Tap class as a 4 year old. At the moment I’m still attending any and every class I can. There’s an endless amount to learn!
I went to my first burlesque show because I had decided to attend more shows & be more “cultured”. I had no idea what it was and I found what I had been looking for my entire life as a performer – full creative control. It was a christmas show and Sydney duo Fancy Piece blew my mind with these beautiful, bizarre and theatrical acts, and Jazida did an incredible quick-change act. I knew it was an art form I could find a home in.
What do you think is your most identifiable aspect to you as a performer? What do people remember Artemis Seven for?
A feeling of simultaneous arousal and discomfort. Do I want to take her home to mama or do I want to call my mum, apologise for my existence and beg her to come pick me up? I try to make my acts theatrical, well rounded and laden with symbolism for my fellow conspiracy theorists out there – so I hope that comes across to a degree. I try to stop short of shock value and give everything I can to the story at hand.
Do you come from a performance background? How does your brain come up with your wacky ideas?
I do. I started dancing as a small child but turned to acting as I grew older. Honestly I’m not entirely sure how my acts come together. It feels like when people say they were given something by “heavenly muses”. I’m not religious, but it always feels like the act is already there independently of me and I just have to work the puzzle out and take my place in it. I have the kind of imagination that makes me still terrified of the dark, and I like to take characters from my frequent night terrors and give them homes on stage instead, so I think that helps. I’m a real conspiracy theorist so I like to question things and connect symbols to make cult theories of my own and build an act around it in worship. Just basically spending a lot of time being a weirdo and a lot of time making that pretty for stage.
What made you want to enter Miss Burlesque Australia this year?
I had never done a classic act, and I knew the best way to force myself to go that far out of my comfort zone and actually get it done to a level I was happy with what would be a strict, scary deadline.
How did you prepare for the competition? What was your game plan/ goals? How are you going to go into the Grand Final?
My preparation for the ACT final was a frantic and stressful one. I was on The Burlesque Cruise and days before the competition I was still without choreo for my new classic. I had all the ideas & I knew the storyline of the act, but I was in a creative block. It finally snapped together on the boat and honestly I was just hoping to put on an act worthy of being on the competition stage. I’ll be doing lots of rehearsal & sinking into the characters so I’m comfortable in them, but I’m going into this with the feeling that I’m just chuffed to bits to be able to rep for my hometown. Winning is great but if I can just put on a performance that deserves to be on that stage, that’s more than enough.
Tell me about your routines. Can you describe your traditional for me?
My traditional is a snake dance using my hair as a snake, set to raw drums. I wanted to pay homage to interpretations of snake dance and hoochy coochy bellydance, as well as pay homage to the women that came before me. For me, the snake represents knowledge. I think of the Lilith/Eve/Snake story this way also. Humans have a strange relationship with knowledge – we want it, it calls to us & yet it can be dangerous too. The question is always whether knowledge wields us (fear mongering, etc) or whether we can learn to wield it. Knowledge has been withheld from women “for our own good” and for me the snake represents making that choice for yourself, and accepting the pain that comes with knowing more. I wanted to tell part of that story the way a classic burlesque performer would have. Subtly and with showmanship.
What did you do for your unique and how do you think it will set you apart going into the grand final?
Bunny Boiler is my signature act, and its at the point where I’m so immersed in it’s storyline that it becomes a joyful experience to perform it. I always say that I don’t do Bunny Boiler, it does me. It’s like entering a religious fervour, creepy and morbid but playful. I can’t say whether it will set me apart, but I can happily say its representative of my style.
Did you enjoy your ACT experience and would you recommend entering this State Final?
I did! It was a scary night, but backstage was wonderful. All the contestants were supportive of each other & we had a really good night. I liked that even though it was a competition, we were all looking out for each other. I think that’s honorable and hard when its in a comp environment. That kind of support is the community I love. I would definitely recommend entering – it’s always good to push yourself out of your comfort zone and have a deadline. If you’re scared, it can be useful in terms of mind over matter – learning to view the competition as an opportunity to grow in the process, it’s not just about outcome. I also think the feedback you receive from the judges is incredibly useful. Nothing more valuable than a deadline & feedback. Winner or not, it’s worthwhile.
Follow Artemis Seven on her social media as she prepares for the Miss Burlesque Australia Grand Final.