I have competed in many burlesque competitions in my career, so thought I would share my experiences.
Let’s start with the first burlesque competition I ever entered, Burlesque Idol Australia!
Burlesque Idol was founded by Lola LaBelle in 2010 in London, where it continues to run in the city’s prestigious West End under the creative direction of Miss Tempest’s Rose’s House of Burlesque.
After being a judge for the UK competition, Lola soon enlisted Sarina del Fuego to establish and run the Australian Competition.
In 2014, the first ever Burlesque Idol Australia took place, predominantly across NSW locations.
As the competition grew, it expanded out to cities across the country, and in 2016 the first ever Grand Finale was held in Canberra. All the city Winners and one Wildcard competed for the top title of Burlesque Idol Australia Winner & Ambassador.
How it works
Burlesque competitions are often for established performers and have specific performance criteria to achieve. Esteemed judges are usually the ones making the decision in the end. That’s where Burlesque Idol is different.
The audience at any Burlesque Idol Australia show get to have a vote to say who they want to win. There are judges, but the judges’ vote only counts for 30% of the overall outcome, the audience say makes up 70% of the final decision!
This makes Burlesque Idol a great platform for newer performers to establish their name, for more experienced performers to travel and perform in new cities, and for established performers to really flex their skills.
It’s also a perfect way for burlesque performers to learn and perfect their self promotion techniques – the more friends and fans in the audience, the higher your chance of winning!
Honestly, Burlesque Idol Australia remains the most fun competition I’ve been involved with. It’s low pressure with no restrictions on the type of burlesque you can perform. It’s also an amazing way to meet other performers, and even travel to perform in other cities.
There’s also the advantage of gaining positive and constructive feedback from judges. Often you can participate in workshops associated with Idol that help build your skills as a performer. And competitors get a great bag of gifts from the sponsors, as well as photos and videos of their act. More often than not, those photos and videos help competitors get booked or accepted in to other competitions.
Check out my thoughts on Why I Compete.
Mae’s Idol Participation
To this day, Wollongong has not had another local Idol competition. So I am the reigning Runner Up, and Ginger the reigning Winner! Ginger Meadows went on to compete in and win Miss Burlesque ACT, then moved to the UK for a couple of years. Sadly she no longer performs burlesque.
Not deterred, but inspired by my placing, I competed in the Sydney competition in 2015. I performed a comedy act, The King Lives, and entertained the crowd. The line up was full of great performers, and I was once again named Runner Up.
The Winner was Rebelle Velveteen, my burlesque bestie who is still a renowned performer. She went on to compete in Miss Burlesque Australia, and was named Miss Burlesque Canberra in 2019!
Inspired as always, I entered the Sydney competition in 2016 with another sin n’ strip act, Stuff Like That There. It was a full house and included Auslan interpretation which was fun to see how to describe our hearing impaired crowd. Third times’ the charm, right? Yes, I came Runner Up again! This time to comedy genius Hannie Reagan.
The first ever Grand Finale was held in Canberra late in the year. I was chosen as the only Wildcard entrant and Hannie and I road tripped down for the show. It was a huge line up of amazing performers and one hell of a show. The Winner was named, it’s Hannie Reagan!
Hannie went on to produce local comedy burlesque shows in Sydney, as well as run the Australian Edgar Allen Poe society, and has now committed full time to her acting career. She is dearly missed from the burlesque scene but is doing amazing things on stages and screens.
I didn’t compete in 2017 – whaaaat?! But I was involved. I helped out at the local shows, including the Grand Finale in Sydney. I helped as part of the production team, and was the fabulous merch girl selling fly t-shirts.
The 2017 Winner was Rainbow!
Rainbow went on to compete in Miss Burlesque Australia in 2019 and was named Miss Burlesque ACT and Miss Classic at the Miss Burlesque Australia Grand Final 2019. Rainbow also produced the Canberra leg of Burlesque Idol in 2020, as well as the first Australia BurlyPicks competition in 2020 which had to be conducted online.
I threw my fascinator back in the ring mainly as a way to get an act finished by a deadline. I competed in the Sydney competition and performed a sing ‘n strip act, Mae’s Big Day. It’s the only time I didn’t place, but my act was one I had only just got to stage, and I went on to refine and polish it up.
The Sydney Winner was Turquoise Delight, and the Australian Winner was Trigger Happy.
Turquoise continues to perform and has won accolades locally. Trigger produces Shreklesque and produced the Townsville Burlesque Idol competition in 2020. He is probably best known for his appearances on America’s Got Talent and his “accidental” Golden Buzzers 😉
This was the first year I wasn’t heavily involved in Burlesque Idol, but you can bet I was around the traps. The Winner was Natalia Fatale.
I finally stepped in to a producing role alongside Scarlet Tinkabelle. Together we put on the first ever Burlesque Idol Darwin. It was a great event with fabulous fresh competitors. The winner not he night was Millie Divine.
The Grand Finale was marred by COVID 19 interruptions, and eventually went ahead in January 2021 in a hybrid in person and online format. The Winner for the year was Cora Confetti.
Burlesque Muse (Idol) Australia 2021
A bright new year with a different landscape is upon us. We made shows happen when and how we could. I was delighted to produce this year’s the Sydney show. I ran the Canberra show with the help of my burlesque bestie Rebelle Velveteen, and co-producing both Darwin and Adelaide shows this year with Scarlet Tinkabelle.
A couple of additional challenges presented themselves early in the Tour, which saw me step up for 2021 as the National Director. I took on the challenge and worked to support all the shows and competitors. And as such, this year’s Tour was renamed Burlesque Muse to reflect my influence on the show. COVID complications has meant we are once again taking the Grand Finale to an online format – who will you vote for to with the national title?