One of our fabulous instructors here at Maison Burlesque, Miss Maple Rose is the self-pronounced ambassador for the True White North who burst onto the Australian burlesque scene in 2011. Since she has worked tirelessly at reviving the glory of old Hollywood glamour on Australia’s seediest stages. This bright eyed, autumn haired siren began her performing career as a ballerina, and combines her professional expertise in costume and set design with her foundation in dance to create cheeky routines that are entirely original...
We had a little heart-to-heart with Australia's classiest piece of bacon so our beloved readers can get to know her a little better!
Image by @elinparmhed
Tell us when and how you first discovered burlesque? What were your initial thoughts/feelings?
I was first introduced to burlesque while I was designing the sets and costumes for an independent production called “The Schelling Point” at Sydney’s Old Fitz Theatre. The show had 1 female character in it, who had to be sexy and a chanteuse, and so the sensual Lauren LaRouge was billed as the leading lady. We became close friends as I fitted her and made some epic custom costumes for her, and she introduced me to the sparkly scene of burlesque in 2010. I first through I’d be a groupie - sit back, make costumes for girls, and enjoy the glitter. But every time I went to a show I had a craving to get up there and do it myself. So, after much persuasion, Lauren got me onto the stage for The PEEL in August 2011, and I haven’t looked back since.
How would you describe your unique style? Has it always been like that?
As a mentor, I have always told my students to figure out who their sexual being is, and to exaggerate that on stage. That piece of advice came from my own exploration into who I am onstage. I have always been slightly socially awkward when it comes to sexual encounters in my daily life, and so when I feel uncomfortable I use light, cheeky humour to break the ice. Hence, my stage character is confident, classy and fun, but her “tease” is cheeky, comical and sometimes unexpected.
This style took years in the making, especially in my daily life of growing into a full grown adult. I first wanted to create a surreal character that had nothing to do with me as a means of escape. But unless you’re a professionally trained actor, it’s hard to not put any of yourself into your character. And so by exaggerating myself into a fictional character, I’ve really began to hone in on what it means to be Maple Rose. Classy, sassy and a whole lot of ass!
How did you decide upon your burlesque/performer name?
Maple was a given. I’ve got 6 maple leaves tattooed on my back, and it was important to me to keep that visual link. However it was really hard to choose a second name! I posted on Facebook, asking for advice. Two of the best options were Rouge and Rose. Rouge was a great option, however my burlesque fairy godmother is Lauren LaRouge and she would honestly shoot me if it was obvious we were a “drag” family. So Rose it became, and Rose it’s stayed. In 2011 when I started, Rose seemed to be a super popular surname - especially with a first name beginning with “M.” So over the years, I’ve been adamant to be billed as Miss Maple Rose, however that often gets missed as most performers are a ‘miss.’ I’m not precious - as long as the Maple is in there I’m happy.
Image by Jessica Eisner
Tell us a bit more about your non-performer self!
In my ‘boy' life I’ve worked as a stylist and shop assistant for many years, specialising in vintage clothes. It really goes hand in hand with the style of my character. Here in Melbourne I’m in a cushy retail position at Sally’s Retro on Smith Street, but I fell into this passion after working for Forever Vintage in Sydney, who has the worlds largest collection of mid-century couture gowns. It was an amazing experience working there for 2.5 years, and I learnt so much about the style, construction and detailing of exquisite vintage. I have an inspiring collection of original vintage pieces in my closet, but my life outside of burlesque is so casual now that I rarely wear them. I think I get all of my glamour out on the weekends, that I’ve turned into a bit of a hippy in my day to day life.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
When I was a kid, my favourite movie was “The Ziegfeld Follies.” I would watch the opening “pink” number with Lucille Ball over and over again. No wonder I fell in love with ostrich feathers, sequins and rhinestones! My mother always told me I was born of the wrong era. Vintage fashion and the glamour of old Hollywood are the origins of most of my inspiration. I also grab inspiration from modern couture fashion (Gucci, Dior, Prada, you name it!), but of course nothing is new anymore and that’s all inspired by the golden age too.
Another huge inspiration recently has been the art form of Drag. I spend most of my “spare" time "stoning" (aka rhinestoning costumes) while watching RuPaul’s Drag Race. Those girls devote their whole lives to creating the perfect illusion of a woman, and as burlesque performers we can take a lot of inspiration from their hard work. Drag queens always think out of the box, but always make it glamourous.
Have you faced any challenges in starting burlesque or developing your burlesque career?
To be honest, it really took me about 5 years to get my stride in burlesque. I first started in Sydney, and fell into an amazing group of performers who were already pretty established, however that meant I had fallen into the crowd who were phasing out of burlesque while I was just starting. I had constant work, but once my main gig fell through I was left a bit stranded. I hadn’t networked with the newer generation. Sydney is known to be “clique-y”, but that’s not entirely the case. It’s more that there is just so little opportunity for the arts in that huge city, and not enough work to go around. Plus there were no schools when I started - you had to just jump right on into the scene without any opportunity to network with peers except at gigs.
When I left for Sweden I actually thought I was done with burlesque. I thought it would be a great opportunity to travel and live a ‘normal’ life. But once I arrived I found that my talents as a performer were essential for me to get a job in a country where I did not speak the native tongue, and I was lucky that I fell into a very small scene where it was easy to network quickly. I got the job at Melt Bar one week into arriving in Sweden, and the following week had to debut 2 new acts. I literally made both of those costumes in 1 week. They served me well at Melt because they got quite a beating! Three nights a week I was performing and hostessing full time, and quickly became “mother hen” at the bar where a lot of newbie performers were just starting out. It was fantastic to mentor as well as perform full time, and that’s when I really knew that this was the life for me.
Image by Lauren Horwood
Tell us a bit about your classes at Maison and what they're all about!
'Sewing For Burlesque' covers the foundations of sewing costumes for your performances. We focus on making the basics for a classic costume, but the skills you learn in these two modules will allow you to go off and begin making costumes on your own. The key thing with sewing is PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. Yes, you can learn the skills in class, but you won’t perfect them right away. It’s taken me years to get my stride in garment construction, and I still have a few hiccups along the way (and you’ll hear me make excuses about my shotty seams in class ;P ) .
In Module A, we cover the basics of sewing stretch. Stretch materials are daunting for any seamstress as they can have a life of their own, but once you learn the quick hacks and become comfortable with your machine, it can quickly become a breeze! We begin by making a g-string, then move onto a soft cup bra, high waisted panties, and if you have time, a garter belt.
Module B is designed for more experienced seamstresses, and we recommend you do Module A before you do Module B. This module is mostly self directed were you learn how to draft basic patterns to your own body. Comprising of a panel skirt and a burlesque robe, there are many design options you can choose to make the projects completely your own and I’m here to guide you through the process.
Term 3 Classes commence Monday June 4th!
Sewing For Burlesque with Miss Maple Rose will commence on the following dates:
Module A (4 Week Course) : Saturday 16th June, 10am-12pm
Module B (4 Week Course) : Saturday 14th July, 10am-12pm