The Australian Burlesque Festival
Following two consecutive sold-out tours, the third annual Australian Burlesque Festival promises to be “bigger, brighter and thrilling to the core”. This year the festival boasts a line-up with four international acts, as well as Australia’s finest. Headliner Anna Fur Laxis has been dubbed one of the best burlesque performers on Earth, and is making her Australian debut for the ABF. She speaks to us about glamour, medical puns and her passion for weapons.
It was a long-term goal of Laxis’ to perform in Australia, so when she was approached about performing at this year’s ABF, she was thrilled. “I’m very much looking forward to seeing some of your beautiful country,” she says, “but what I’m most excited about is meeting the Australian burlesque community … and finding out more about the people involved in the scene there.”
Laxis is bringing two of her favourite shows to the ABF: Viva Bettie – a tribute to pin-up icon and personal hero Bettie Page, and Tourbillon – a take on a classic American-style bump ‘n’ grind. “My shows are all very different,” she explains, “but I love to use humour and comedy along with the glamour, to make you smile.”
Having been placed highly in the Burlesque Top 50 for the last three years, her name secured in The Burlesque Hall of Fame as well as receiving a prestigious Milan Burlesque Award, Laxis seems to be at the top of her game. “I’m thrilled that there are people who like what I do,” she says excitedly, “because all I really want to do is make people feel happy. I think I’m a pretty down-to-Earth kind of person, and I don’t mind making a fool of myself – I think people can relate to those things. I always try to have humour in my shows and I love to include a little of the ridiculous!”
For such a successful performer, Laxis is relatively new on the burlesque scene; she has performing for five years, and also models for retro and alternative clothing companies. “I work harder [on performing] than I’ve ever worked on any job before, and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been,” she explains. “I started out with very small, simple ideas and I’ve become more ambitious with my acts over time. I never imagined any of this could ever happen. My goals have always been small and incremental – regular, tiny steps can take a lady a long way!”
It was pin-up modelling that gave Laxis her start in burlesque. Prior to that, she tried her hand in a number of different fields as a legal secretary, masseuse and at one stage, a radiographer. She thinks she was “mostly drawn to burlesque as a way to express a part of [her]self that, up to that point, didn’t have an outlet."
From the acts she is bringing to the ABF, Laxis is hoping the audience will experience “humour, glamour and a touch of the ridiculous.” From the festival as a whole, she believes we can expect “a great show, with a fantastic selection of performances from the international burlesque community.”
Despite her excitement about the acts she is bringing to Australia, Laxis is sad not to be bringing her axe-throwing act (most likely due to aviation restrictions). Despite this, she still hopes to incorporate more weapons in her act for future shows. “My heart and my passion lie with weapons,” she says, and is strangely enthusiastic about this. “Hopefully in the future [there are] weapons that you can take on board aircraft!”
Laxis’ crafts her show to attract as vast an audience as possible. “My shows seem to appeal to people who are upbeat and fun,” she says, “as well as Bettie Page fans. And of course medical professionals, Medical professionals like my name!
“As a language enthusiast and medical fetishist, my name was always going to be something from the medical books. I love that people don’t have to understand what my name means for it to make sense on a burlesque lineup, but for people who do know what it means … I think it suits me perfectly!”
In addition to her performances in the ABF, Laxis will be running two workshops for budding burlesque performers, or for those who are merely curious. Victory Roll Boot Camp is an intensive workshop which runs through different all of the ways to make ‘40s hair victory rolls, and includes other hairstyling tips. The second workshop, Flicks, Lashes & Lips, runs through the staples of retro-inspired make up. “The classes are a fun way to take the time to experiment with a different make up or hair styles and include lots of tips and cheats,” Laxis explains. “The sessions are usually great fun, and it’s lovely to meet up with other like-minded ladies.”
For her Melbourne show, Laxis will be headlining The Big Tease at The Hi-Fi. Producers Rosy Rabbit and Dolores Daiquiri will also be performing on the night, along with 13 others acts. Australia’s ‘Queen of Burlesque’ Imogen Kelly and Finnish act LouLou D’Vil are among the stellar lineup, both of whom Laxis admires. “They’re both red hot!” she exclaims. “I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to seeing the other performers on the bill!” The night is not one to be missed, and as Laxis says: “it’s going to be an extravaganza of fun, glamour and tease!”
BY MEGAN HANSON
The Australian Burlesque Festival runs from Thursday June 7 until Sunday June 24 around the nation, and will be feature in various locations around Melbourne between Thursday June 7 and Sunday June 10. For tickets and more information visit australianburlesquefest.com