Miss Burlesque ACT 2019 | RAINBOW!
A lush woman drips limply from her seat, legs spread, she offers a glass and raises it to the sky, eyebrows wiggling – welcoming the audience into a seat at the first “Palace of Women”. We step into la belle époque and into the Moulin Rouge.
With the deep swig of a drink, Rainbow leaps to life out of the late 19th century. It is as though the notorious Moulin Rouge cabaret star La Goulue, known as “The Glutton” has sprung from a Toulouse-Lautrec painting to grab and guzzle an unsuspecting patron’s beverage.
Her feet begin to delicately tap and jostle to Offenbach’s opening famous chords – ba ba-ba ba- baba BAH BAH BAH BAH bah-bah BAAAAAAAH! Da dah-dah dah dah de-da. De daah daah de dah dah dah dah. DAAAAH DAHHH DAAAAAH DAAAAAH – crashing chords descend and a feverish tempo builds. The familiar chorus arises and La Goulue jerks with unbridled and untamed fervour. She lifts, throws and manipulates the ruffled frills of her skirt and spurts into the can-can with full explosive abandon. She lets rip the scream of a warrioress crying into a bloomer-clad battle before. With rapturous might she begins the barrage of brutal high kicks, battements and ronde de jambes accompanied by schisms of violent skirt throwing and careful flourishes of a teasing and toothy grin.
In the hustle of a final series of hopping pied en l’air, the spirit of the debauched and absinthe-soaked streets of 19th century Montmartre is evoked.
Her centre-split carriage smashes into the ground and she drops with all the abandon demanded of the iconic grand carte, ripping at her brassier – one perfect tasseled breast revealed. The audience screams and jump to their feet in a rapturous applause like the hot-topped top-hatted French aristocracy “slumming it” on the streets of Pigalle. In this moment, the audience knew that Rainbow would be kicking her way all the way to the Miss Burlesque Australia Grand Final in Perth in August.
Alyssa Kitt caught up with the enigmatically bright and debaucherous RAINBOW! To talk all things French music hall, explosions of joyous colour and how she just can’t stop expressing her name in any other way than spelt all in capitals with an exclamation point on the end!
Alyssa: Congratulations! Oh gosh – well done. ACT absolutely blew everyone out of the water this year. The audience was just in a tither saying how flawless the show was. With the highest number of applicants out of any state – ACT this year was a huge state to win – you must be over the moon!!! How did it feel when that crown was placed on your head?
RAINBOW! Unreal. I couldn’t believe I had won. Everyone who competed in the ACT is so good (I had watched them all preparing in tech and they were amazing). To win amongst that fabulous bunch of performers who I admire was incredible.
Alyssa: This is your first time competing in the Miss Burlesque ACT State Finals. What made you want to enter the competition for 2019?
RAINBOW! I wanted to step outside my comfort zone and see what I was capable of. I enjoy and naturally am drawn to creating comedic, neo burlesque acts and I thought it would be a good challenge if I could create a traditional or classic act. I also like the idea of being able to showcase the diversity of what we can do (a traditional and a neo act). I was also excited to have the chance to perform alongside my friends who I admire as both performers and people.
Alyssa: What did you set out to achieve when you started your competition preparation? What did you game plan look like?
RAINBOW! I wanted to develop two entertaining and polished acts that I am proud of that (hopefully) I can perform for years to come. My game plan is pretty simple. I try and perform as often as possible to different audiences in different types of venues. Until I was injured in May I was attending weekly jazz classes to build up my fitness. I also rehearse usually three times a week all year round. Six to eight weeks before the competition I was rehearsing four to five times a week (two to three times a week in a studio and the other times at home in the lounge room)
Alyssa: You were the winner of Burlesque Idol a few years ago. Were there any nerves or doubts moving through your competition preparation that took you by surprise?
RAINBOW! Oh my God! So many nerves, so much self-doubt. It took me by surprise a little. In particular I had a number of doubts and concerns about how I was going to make the traditional match what I had imagined.
Alyssa: You were an explosion of pure rainbow clad joy with a big golden reveal for your Red Carpet Parade. Tell me, how did this reflect who Rainbow is?
RAINBOW! When I perform I like to take people out of themselves. My goal is to help them be present in this moment so they can forget the day they had. Life can be so hard sometimes and if I can make someone smile and give them a bit of happiness, help them forget the worries of the day, I’ve achieved my goal, it is the most wonderful feeling. I wanted my red carpet parade to kind of capture that intent – big, joyful colour (with absolutely no real purpose other than to give you a smile).
Alyssa: Your Traditional routine high energy, physically demanding true mid 19th century Parisian Can Can! Tell me what drew you to this scandalous and iconic French dance?
RAINBOW! I’ve always loved the cancan, the cheekiness of it, the fun. I also love the paintings and artwork by Toulouse-Lautrec and was fascinated by the dancers that were his muses. I thought it would be interesting to do the cancan from that time and trying to bring that vision to the stage.
Alyssa: Describe your traditional for me.
RAINBOW! My traditional is inspired by the cancan from the 1890s danced by the likes of La Goulue and Jane Avril in bars and theatres such as the Moulin Rouge.
Alyssa: How did you research for this routine?
RAINBOW! I read articles I found on line and academic papers on the history of the cancan and how it evolved. I found the history fascinating. I was particularly intrigued by it being a banned or outlawed dance in the 1840s/50s in France. Apparently, the police could arrest you for dancing the cancan and when giving evidence in court, the police would have to demonstrate by dancing the moves you were performing at the time that were considered risque and classified as the cancan.
Alyssa: You performed a timeless (excuse the pun) Alice in Wonderland take on the Mad-Hatter’s tea-party for your unique. Describe the act to me.
RAINBOW! It’s a dance that celebrates the Mad Hatter’s love of hats and tea (with hats under hats and an unusual way of serving tea).
Alyssa: What made this routine unique?
RAINBOW! A combination of things, I think – my hat reveals, the serving of the special tea and the teasing dance where I don’t take bits of clothing off in the order anticipated.
Alyssa: Did you have a favourite section?
RAINBOW! I really enjoyed the whole experience. I loved debuting the cancan in Canberra at Miss Burlesque ACT. It was such a thrill to share that with the audience and the judges. I also loved having the opportunity to perform the Mad Hatter again in Canberra. While I perform Mad Hatter regularly I had upgraded parts of the costume and have not performed it for some time in Canberra so that was lots of fun.
Alyssa: How did you represent the different facets of RAINBOW!? Not apologising – every time I go to type your name I simply must CAPITALISE!!!
RAINBOW! (LOL All good) I wanted to show a more serious and powerful side in the cancan while in the Mad Hatter I wanted to showcase the ridiculous and fun side. Hopefully that came through.
Alyssa: Oh it most certainly did! How are you going to prepare for the Grand Final?
RAINBOW! Well, right now by eating a whole block of Milky Bar 😉 I had approximately two weeks where I collapsed in a heap and slept for 10 hours most nights, but now I’m back in the rhythm of things. I am competing in the Golden Legends Champion Challenge in Florida the week before the MBA Grand Final so am now back to rehearsing four to five days a week (practicing all acts on alternate days).
Alyssa: Did you enjoy your MBA Journey in the State Finals?
RAINBOW! I did. It was intense and all consuming at times, but damn it was a good experience.
Alyssa: What did you love about the competition?
All of it! I had such a good time and was proud to be part of such a great show.The producers (Jazida and Michael Wheatley) were so supportive and helpful throughout the lead up to the competition. They organised a great photoshoot and opportunities for all the performers to get together before the show for meals and catch ups. It was also wonderful to perform with a great bunch of friends. I learnt so much about myself and what I was capable of. I highly recommend that other performers apply and experience it.
Alyssa: Outside of just winning the Miss Burlesque ACT crown, what have some of your other career highlights been?
RAINBOW! I enjoy performing burlesque and have been very fortunate to perform in lots of wonderful spaces with people I admire. Winning Burlesque Idol in 2017 was a wonderful experience and a favourite memory. Performing at the opening of Wendy Sharpe’s art exhibition and performing at the Savannah Burlesque Festival in the final show with Dirty Martini, Jeez Louise, Blanche De Bris, Fancy Feast and Tiger Bay still have me pinching myself.
Alyssa: What’s your overall style of burlesque – where’s your comfy place on stage?
RAINBOW: Comedic neo-burlesque. I’m also a lover of fan dancing. My happy place is being a bit silly, surprising people and making them laugh.
You can catch RAINBOW! spreading her debaucherous brand of technicolour joy in Perth at the Grand Final!