Miss Burlesque WA 2017 | 2018 Wildcard spot | Veruca Sour
She’s known as “The jazz age harlot” with a style that is 90% face, 10% Germanic Nightmare Monster and an additional 20% of limbs for days. Veruca has been described as “a Roald Dahl character brought to life” known for her kooky performances, gag-worthy shots and suave blend of theatrical comedy. A Dr Seuss villain with a shockingly elastic face, this self-professed burlesque potato has made her stamp on madcap, exuberant and grotesque hijinkx.
A glamour spud doesn’t just sprout overnight, Veruca’s metamorphosis into the delectable carbohydrate that she is today comes from her performance background directing and choreographing original musical theatre shows and pantomime with the University of Western Australia’s Pantomime Society. When she burst onto the burlesque stage in 2016, Sour says that burlesque turned out to be a “perfect combination of everything creative I had been doing over the course my life.”
Veruca Sour was drawn to burlesque for its unique form of storytelling. Her love of cabaret and the jazz age lends a vaudevillian sensibility to her animated performance style.
After she was crowned Miss Burlesque Western Australia in 2017, she went on to perform her MBA unique act in the Australian Burlesque Festival’s New Follies showcase, won Best Local Talent at the International Cabaret Royalty Pageant and placed runner up in Burlesque Idol Perth.
This glamour spud is spreading her potato revolution far and wide, encouraging everyone to embrace the comedy and harness the power of the triple chin. Alyssa Kitt caught up with this starchy star to talk all things carbohydrates, Disney villains and how that elastic face is propelling her into the Miss Burlesque Australia Grand Final.
Perth has been hot competition for some years and this was your first time competing in Miss Burlesque WA – what made you want to enter in 2017?
It was a huge show! There were 16 of us in the semi final and a lot of newbies so we went in together knowing it would be a great opportunity to learn the ropes and help each other out. I really only had one act so entering was a great motivator to put together two new ones with the support of more experienced performers.
You’re a relatively fresh burlesque performer – how long have you been performing? What was your first experience of burlesque?
I did my first student solo in 2016 so I was absolutely a tiny baby just flailing around in a panic. I’d been going to see burlesque shows here in Perth for years before that and was completely obsessed with the performance style. Especially performers like Ginger LaMinge and Clara Cupcakes who are incredible physical comedy masters with A+ faces. I started doing classes with some friends (who went on to become 2018 MBUK finalist Valerie Savage and 2017 MBWA finalist Fae Salem) for fun and accidentally became addicted so here we are!
You come from directing and choreographing for musical theatre – tell me about your performance upbringing.
I did the dance studio and theatre thing growing up (many embarrassing tap dance videos in my past available for blackmail if anyone’s interested) but gave it up when I went to uni and fell into that horrible No Creative Outlet black hole for a few years. Then I got involved with the UWA Pantomime Society which basically changed my life and really influenced my current performance style with its emphasis on big characters, comedy and breaking the fourth wall. We started doing full-fledged musicals (partly because I whined about it until everyone gave in) and I ended up choreographing the dance numbers. Had no idea what I was doing at the time but fake it til you make it, kids! With that experience under my belt I started getting other choreo gigs for shows around Perth and I love it so much. Burlesque turned out to be a perfect combination of everything creative I had been doing over the course my life, kinda feels like every weird show I did led me to this! See Mum, it was worth it.
Tell me more about what musical theatre numbers you were in:
We mostly did original shows! played a lot of disney villains and probably most noteworthy, I was veruca in a version of willy wonka haha. We did a mafia version of the sound of music and I played one of the Trappelli children, lapizza. it’s like 100% nonsense tbh! Also relevant, I played maleficent who is inspiring my red carpet parade this year.
Describe your burlesque character/persona in three words.
Exuberant, grotesque, a bit of an egg.
What do you think is your most identifiable aspect to you as a performer? (Personally I think it’s that hell attractive sneer). What is Veruca Sour famous for?
It’s probably gotta be my elastic face. The sneer is second only to the world renowned triple chin potato face, which is a highly integral part of my artistic process. I’ve actually turned the power of the potato into a full lesson plan for my students to teach comedy technique and expression for the stage. The uglier the better! The audience WANTS to be horrified they just don’t know it yet.
You’ve recently been busy with your work as a teacher and producer in WA. Tell me more! I would particularly like to hear more about the show La Potato cabaret that you produced this year for Fringe World .
I started teaching for Sugar Blue Burlesque a year ago and it’s been an absolute dream come true. My classes are always a bit ridiculous and I’m so lucky to have students who are up for anything even when I’m like “alright team now we’re going to build a car with our bodies but make it SEXY okay go”.
For Fringe World this year, Lucy Lovegun and I directed La Potato Cabaret for Sugar Blue and it was a HOOT! We wanted to create a platform for comedy performers (not just burlesque) to just go ham and for our audience to embrace their inner potato and get silly with us. Lovegun and I have many more shenanigans planned for the future so stay tuned!
What have some of your highlights of your career so far?
Perth Fringe World is an incredible festival and I’ve been a super fan of it for as long as its existed, so actually getting to put on a show is definitely a huge highlight! This year I also got to perform overseas for the first time, I’m doing shows in Brisbane with the amazing Bombshell Burlesque, travelling to Sydney for The Australian Burlesque Festival for the second time and THE Alyssa Kitt is currently interviewing me so you know, it’s going okay.
How did you prepare for the competition? What was your game plan/ goals?
I looked at MBWA not as a competition but as an invaluable learning experience and huge platform to get myself out there. I also wanted to explore my character and find out who I wanted to be as a performer and the MBA structure is great for that. My biggest goal was just to rise to the challenge and I’m so lucky to be able to call the past WA winners my friends and peers now, they were all so generous with their time and advice, I owe so much to them! Especially that Lucy Lovegun who pretty much dragged me onto that stage by the ear, thanks mate.
Tell me about your routines:
Can you describe your traditional for me?
Not gonna lie, putting together a more traditional burlesque act was a bit of a struggle for me because I see myself as such a floppy noodle person. While researching I really had to find that balance to make sure it was my own interpretation of the era. I picked a song from the 40s that’s a bit tongue in cheek and still lets me inhabit that comedic space I feel like I thrive in. I’ve been tweaking it to suit the new rules this year so I can’t wait to perform the upgraded version!
What did you do for your unique and how do you think it will set you apart going into the grand final?
My unique act is a silly little story inspired by the film Les Triplettes de Belleville. It’s a ridiculous character-driven Charleston romp but at the heart of it it’s secretly about the joy and freedom of dance that transcends age and physical obstacles. Performing it feels like doing a full pantomime crammed into 4 minutes and I love to take the audience along for the ride.
What was the first thing that came into your head when you were crowned Miss Burlesque WA 2017?
My mind just went blank, I was in complete shock! I was sure I had no chance of placing and was so unprepared. I had insisted on wearing this big headpiece for the curtain call but luckily the sneaky crew who knew the results calmly took it off my head while I was distracted. When my name was called my friends in the wings had to physically push me onto the stage and thank goodness for 2016 winner Sugar Du Joure and our emcee Famous Sharron for steering me around because I straight up forgot how to be a functioning human and just stood there and ugly cried, and I am NOT a crier! Doing that show was an emotional and physical marathon and I just broke. A real glamorous moment for me, as always.
Did you enjoy your Miss Burlesque experience and would you recommend entering this State Final?
Yes and yes! Do the thing! Do it! Worry about it later! You can sleep when you’re dead!
Follow the exuberant Veruca Sour on her social media for her journey to the Miss Burlesque Australia Grand Final in Perth.
Sugar Blue: www.sugarblueburlesque.com/performer/veruca-sour