Blonde Bombshell, Mother Hen, Rum Fiend & Fan-Weilding Fantasy... She's the co-owner of this little wonderspace we call Maison Burlesque as well as being a much loved performer, instructor, MC, producer, stylist, pastie maker & cat-mum. We had a little chat to her about all things burlesque!
Image by 42nd St Photography
Tell us when and how you first discovered burlesque? What were your initial thoughts/feelings?
I can actually remember quite vividly... Dom (my partner) and I were in early days of dating and we decided to go see a show at the Spiegeltent - a burlesque show called "Tarnished" featuring Imogen Kelly. It was love at first sight (the show I mean, Dom was a grower but don't worry he's a keeper). Imogen Kelly was then and still remains my ultimate girl crush in burlesque (if you don't know her, youtube her, STAT!). I remember being captivated and realising I had found what I wanted to do with my life! 11 years later here I am... And I have been lucky enough to perform with Imogen several times now... *fangirling and crushing hard*
How would you describe your unique style? Has it always been like that?
Oh I'm terrible at describing myself! But I'll give it a shot! My style is generally pretty playful and lighthearted (I certainly never take myself seriously on stage!), a mix of classic showgirliness and crazy characters, and I love a good bit of swampy music I can move my hips to too! And I have been known to shimmy so hard my pasties fly off, so there is that... My new tagline says: Take one part rum floozy and two parts cheesecake, add a dash of sauce, give it a fierce shake and grind and you have Poppy Cherry in an hourglass!
What's the funniest things that has ever happened to you during a performance?
I still think the funniest moment was during a performance in Adelaide, the zipper on my overbust corset got completely stuck (as in, ate up a bunch of fabric and wasn't going anywhere and had to be cut off with scissors after I got off stage). This meant I had to improv the entire rest act with a faulty corset, including somehow getting my bra off from underneath the corset and pulling my boobs up in some weird fashion so I could still tassel twirl... It was a bit of a hot mess! And then the review of the show said (and I quote) "Poppy Cherry was another standout, with her playfully manufactured wardrobe malfunction creating a fun and engaging experience for the audience." Little did they know...
How did you decide upon your burlesque/performer name?
You know, I don't remember! I just remember spending a realllllly long time thinking about names until something stuck. And it didn't even stick at first, I didn't like the name Poppy Cherry but then kind of warmed to it...
What advice do you have for someone wanting to start burlesque?
Do it! It can be anything from a bit of fun to downright life changing! Learn all the things, see all the shows, meet likeminded weirdos and enjoy the process! And don't take yourself too seriously ;)
In terms of wanting to start as a soloist, well that's a whole other ballgame we can go into another time... x
Image by 42nd St Photography
Describe your average Saturday night?
Oh there is no average! Saturday daytimes are for doing computer work, cleaning the studio and prepping for the evening's events... In the evening I might be teaching workshops and performing for hens parties, or I could be hosting or performing in a show, or if I'm lucky I might keep the evening free for quiet cocktails at home with my man and my 3 pussies...
Tell us a bit more about your non-performer self! What do you do? What do you love doing/eating/watching?
I'm actually a bit of a recluse... my performer-self is so high energy that when I turn her off I often need to have a bit of a battery recharge. My total 'me' time is when I put my phone in a locker and go to my gym/yoga/dance classes. I do love eating (YES, too much - guilty pleasures include cooked breakfasts, chocolate and dumplings (no not at the same time), and watching goodbad (you know when its good but you watch too much and you know you shouldn't) tv while making nipple pasties with a cat (or 3) on my lap. Also love a good night of 60s/70s movies with my man - last night we did red wine, homemade pizza and The Great Silence which was a pretty good combo! :)
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
As Lucas would say, 'Who knows where thoughts come from, they just appear'... I think I often start with a costume, a theme or a piece of music and the rest seems to grow organically. I'm working on a new act at the moment where I was really inspired by a series of vintage artworks and some beautiful music pieces and well we'll just see...!
Image by 42nd St Photography
Have you faced any challenges in starting burlesque or developing your burlesque career?
I'll be honest, I know I was really lucky when I got started. Some say you make your own luck, maybe there's a bit of truth in that, but I also think I was often the right person in the right place at the right time. My first ever solo performance was at a fundraiser run by my then bellydance teacher. I got that performance filmed, walked into Burlesque Bar with it on a CD and a pretty printed resume and somehow not long after ended up performing several nights a week as one of the resident performers! I think probably my main challenge has always been myself. I tend to be hypercritical of my performances and still get the fear bigtime when it comes to putting new material in front of a crowd!
Tell us a bit about your classes at Maison and what they're all about!
I've been running the Fan Dance classes at Maison Burlesque since we opened in 2014 so they are definitely my baby - back then we only had a couple of classes running! And more recently I've started teaching Bump Grind & Tease which is more of a playful classic burlesque style. What are they about? Well that varies but they are a helluva lotta fun - best way to find out is to come try! :D
Want to join Poppy Cherry for some classes and workshops? Limited places left for Term 5 Courses Commencing October 23rd as well as:
Introduction To Fan Dance - 4 Week Course: Monday 11th September, 6.15pm
Ostrich Feather Fan Making - 2.5hr Workshop: Sunday 15th October, 1.00pm
More About Poppy Cherry
Co-director of Melbourne Burlesque wonderspace Maison Burlesque, Poppy Cherry has been wrapping audiences around her little finger for over 9 years, with her energetic, theatrical take on classic burlesque. With an extensive list of achievements and performances both on and off the stage, Poppy Cherry is a burlesque performer, MC, producer, stylist, teacher, and pastie maker… Is there anything this little lady can’t do?
Having performed her unique brand of tease nation wide, Poppy’s production credits also include working as Entertainment Manager for Burlesque Bar, the Stage Manager for the Australian Burlesque Festival national tour, Entertainment Manager and resident MC for the Burlesque Showboat, Entertainment Manager for Phillip Island Burlesque Festival, as well as numerous of her own productions including Stage Fright!, Poppy’s Peepshow, The Hoochie Coochie Club, Burlesque De Vine, and the annual Oktoberfest Burlesque event. Since 2014 Poppy has also worked full-time as co-director and resident Fan Dance instructor for Maison Burlesque.
2017 will see Poppy’s 8th consecutive year performing as part of the Australian Burlesque Festival, having never missed a year!
Take one part rum floozy and two parts cheesecake, add a dash of sauce, give it a fierce shake and grind and you have Poppy Cherry in an hourglass!
Or you can just find her wherever the nearest rum bar is… 😉