“I wanted to try and contextualise my burlesque background,” explains Scarlett, Prima Ballerina, burlesque artist and flame-haired producer ofNude. “Why was I so intrigued by naked bodies on stage?”

Nude combines burlesque, art, circus, and cabaret to explore what it means to be nude, how society views the nude form, and when and why we are allowed to be nude. “It was a kind of organic process to begin with,” recounts Scarlett. “I launched my own production company last year, and this show was always going to be to do with the female and male nude form. I’m an ex-ballerina so I’ve sort of been around beautiful performance and nudity even through that.


“I developed a great love for the Crazy Horse in Paris – high-end cabaret with fully nude ex-ballerina performers which I just think is absolutely beautiful. I realised that if I want to get to that point, I’d be really restricted with the licensing laws which currently exist. (They limit) the kinds of nudity we can show.”


When she was undertaking the groundwork for the show, Scarlett was intrigued by the various stipulations of what was and wasn’t allowed. “I just found it interesting that at an art or a theatre venue you can have nude performance but at a venue which I could actually access like Red Bennies you’re really restricted because of that nude context. That’s how the show got fuelled. Aside from wanting to develop a show that was entertaining and beautiful, I wanted to weave in a whole lot of ideas about nudity and not just have a typical burlesque show. I’ve really been trying to push that point.


“(When we were) actually writing the show we wanted to have a lot of pieces which were commenting on some social stigmas. How to produce that in an aesthetically pleasing form, something people wanted to see, was difficult. You can’t start pushing ideas on people too soon. It’s got to be able to be controversial but engaging and interesting so people are asking more questions not just you manipulating something. I really feel happy that we’ve been able to develop pieces in the show that are entertaining but still come across just as strongly.”


Each week of the run features a different guest MC throwing their weight behind the show. These guests are many and varied and include Fiona Patten, President of the Australian Sex Party, and singer and burlesque artist Jessamae St James.


“We wanted someone to host the show, to MC,” explains Scarlett. “We realised that having the content of the show being just dance and music was going to be beautiful but there was so much to be said. We wanted the audience to grapple with some of the ideas and keep it really interesting. Because it’s over an eight week period we wanted to keep people coming back too, so each week we have a different guest speaker.”


She chose guests for their connection to the issues, as well as their ability to connect with Nude’s audiences. “Fiona Patten is the perfect choice because she’s so vocal about sex industry, nudity and venues and licensing. She has a really big background and knowledge in terms of that but we also have comedians in who have a more light-hearted take on it all as well. There’s a bit of a range there.


“Everyone is going to bring their own perspective. It’s awesome to have them come in with their experiences. Primarily we want to produce a show which is entertaining and which people enjoy, under that we have the argument regarding the restriction that we’ve got with licensing laws. It’s a bit of a political, policy driven bent – that’s my background, I’ve got a social science degree so it’s obviously coming through there!


“Some audience members have called up for tickets and there’s been surprise or worry about the level of nudity in the show. From my perspective I’d love to go see a show with lovely beautiful women and men nude but you forget that audiences from all sorts of backgrounds are coming and (may be) worried about what they’re going to see delivered or that they’re going to be forced to see something that they’re not going to enjoy. You’ve also got cast performers who are being pushed a bit, circus performers who haven’t appeared nude before and I’ve been working with them a little bit more. In general I’ve been really surprised by everyone’s personal experiences of nudity and the degree to which it’s controlled or contextualised – that’s been really incredible, bringing up things I hadn’t even thought about before.”



Nude is showing at Red Bennies every Friday and Saturday night until Saturday June 29.