WHEN Phoebe Kirk gave her first burlesque performance in the town where she lives at last year’s Arundel Festival, she was slightly unsure about how it would be received.
In fact, the reception was so amazing that this year her act is certain to be one of the festival highlights.
Even more ambitious than before, she is also bringing along something audiences in the town have never seen before – a boylesque!
Originally from Storrington, Phoebe moved to Brighton when she was 18 and it was there she spotted an advertisement for burlesque classes – she fell in love with this dance form and has been performing ever since.
A talented illustrator, now 24, she came to Arundel about 18 months ago to help her mother in the Roly’s Fudge business and thought that her act, which is very artistic, might work well as a festival performance.
“I was quite nervous, not sure how it would go down here and I didn’t realise it would be so successful, but last year went so well and I’ve now partnered up with Dawn Gracie to make it even better this year,” Phoebe said.
She sees burlesque as very much an art form – extremely elegant and sophisticated, and all about the performance rather than any kind of titillation.
“I’ve always been a tomboy, but I’ve also always loved the silver screen and Hollywood glamour.
“When I got into it finally, I loved it so much – all the rhinestones and glitter.
“I used to be not very confident, but burlesque is a way I can be what I want to be – desirable, interesting and fun. It has brought me out of myself and I’m much more confident and assertive in my day-to-day life.”
Phoebe’s stage name is Ginger Von Go-Go and because she is known locally through working in her mother’s fudge shop as well as doing commissions as an illustrator, it can seem slightly odd when audiences recognise her in a different guise.
“I did a show at the Jailhouse for Halloween and someone in the audience shouted out ‘hey, isn’t that Phoebe from the fudge shop?’ But 99.9 per cent, everyone in the town has been so encouraging. All the women are very behind what I do.
“Burlesque shows women and girls how to feel confident in their own bodies, to be comfortable in their own skin. It doesn’t matter what age or shape you are.”
This year Phoebe will be a key player in the festival’s burlesque night on Thursday, August 21, in the Jubilee Gardens, sponsored by Arundel’s newest boutique hair and beauty salon, Harvey Moon.
The evening starts with a burlesque workshop by Dawn Gracie, an introduction to the world of burlesque, and then she and Phoebe will take to the stage with a wealth of glitz and glamour, including burlesque acts and dance troupes, together with a very special headline act.
“My friend, a boylesque known as Luxury Values, will be performing – no-one in Arundel will have seen anything like him before,” Phoebe said.
“The festival is such a great thing, so good for the town. A lot of other festivals in the area look on the Arundel event as a model – it’s brilliant, not focusing on just one element, but bringing in so many things to appeal to so many people.
“I am really passionate about my work as an illustrator and I was thrilled when I was asked to do the cover for this year’s festival brochure.
“I’d like to say a big thank you to Harvey Moon for their sponsorship – that helps us to make the burlesque evening really special.”
Business partners Vanessa Sanchez and Gillian Guirrieic, who also have a Harvey Moon salon in Felpham, opened their Arundel salon on the High Street last October so this year is their first involvement in the festival.
As well as sponsoring the burlesque evening, they will be doing the hair and make-up for several of the performers and Vanessa is already devoting a lot of time to coming up with ideas for spectacular hairstyles which will have lots of impact.
“It’s all very new for us and we expect the evening to be wonderful – very busy but lots of fun,” Vanessa said.
“I’m really looking forward to doing the hair and make-up for the girls who are taking part so I have lots of ideas for styles which are really innovative and architectural.
“I love being creative so I want to do something very spectacular for that night.
“This will be our first festival so we both want to make it special as we love being part of the local community.”
For more details about the burlesque evening, visit www.facebook.com/pages/Phoebe-Le-Feu and for more on Harvey Moon, go to www.myharveymoon.co.uk.