Sensational Burlesque Superstar: Scarlett James

“I discovered burlesque for the first time when friends brought us to a show during Halloween,” reveals Montreal burlesque star Scarlett James. “It was amateur and a small budget production but I saw right away that this was it, that is what I wanted to do, it was like a revelation. So I started to study and research, read books, watch movies, listen to music and started to work on my first number. It took me 6 months before I stepped on the stage for the first time. I wanted to see if I liked it, if people liked what I did before I could go further. The outcome was overwhelming. I stepped off the stage, and my decision was taken, I would become a burlesque artist.”

The designation ‘star’ is dropped more frequently than glitter at a burlesque show in today’s society. But if someone deserves the appellation it is Scarlett James. As a performer, organizer, and now author, she has been instrumental in revitalizing burlesque as an art form in Canada.

When she is on stage, Scarlett brings a big part of herself to her elaborate routines. “I am a classic performer with a touch of modernism, just the right amount of both to make it free of any period, I don’t want to be a reminder of the past, I want to be me, now. So it is my own style, designs, ideas and I am different from every other performer. My personality shows threw and I think that is what people appreciate in what I do.”

As the founder of the Montreal Burlesque Festival, Scarlett has pulled from inspiration in other cities and the past to bring Montreal back to its sexy performance roots. Because of her event and others like it, burlesque has been gaining in mainstream acceptance, and for that she is happy. “I like to share my passion and I want to share it with the whole world. It also brings some new talent in the industry and it is refreshing. Not all of them are good, but like any discipline the cream will rise above. As long as the spirit of burlesque stays alive, I will be happy.”

And to keep that spirit alive Scarlett recruited historian/teacher/Colonel Michel Grondin to co-author the gorgeous new book Burlesque: The True Art of Seduction. “Since I started to perform, I met a lot of people who did not know about burlesque. Then, I saw young girls trying to do burlesque without a clue of what burlesque really was/is, and get naked on stage in a non-flattering manner. I decided people needed to know, what is better than to write a book to gives all the essential historical information.” Featuring performers of the past with new and current stars art, the two have created a stunning collection that will captivate fans and newcomers to burlesque.

The self-described “mighty tease” is keeping her future plans tight to her tassled chest, but you can catch her soon at both the Canadian-Rama, Toronto International Burlesque Festival and The Montreal Burlesque Festival.