Sunday, 23 August 2009

How to become a Showgirl for the BladeRunner Age

image: Louise Whelan

It is with great pleasure that I present to you the one, the only ..

GYPSY WOOD: Burlesque Star and special emissary from the order of the Golden Show Girl
Yes, busy Gypsy has made time from her busy schedule ---which includes performing at the Edinburgh Festival and leading the neo-burlesque revival in Australia --- to sit on a virtual leopard print couch to have a chat about such things as vintage lingerie, how to break into the pin-up/burlesque scene and what it was like to share the stage and champagne with Dita.

Like Gypsy Rose Lee, our Gypsy combines brains and lady-like charm with her beauty to keep her audiences enthralled and begging for more.
London Girl investigates the secrets behind her charm.....

GYSPY WOOD i/v for London Girl

Hello Gypsy, thank you for agreeing to this i/v. I hear your performing at the Edinburgh Festival at the moment?

I’m currently performing in Ali McGregors’s Late-nite Variety-Nite Night at the Supper Room, Assembly Rooms For the Edinburgh Fringe. It’s an amazing show I am very happy to be working with so many incredible performers. I’m doing spots in other comedy and cabaret nights too. The festival is the largest fringe in the world so it’s impossible not to get swept up in the madness and desire of performance.

Its week 3 and I’m so tired but it’s important to have these times at festivals. It’s a time to be inspired and to confront your own work as an artist. Also to be seen and meet so many brilliant performers doing their thing.

Is it your first performance at the festival?

No last year I was in a show called Feasting on Flesh produced by the Australian company Strut n’ Fret. It was a great show about Food and Sex. John Cleese came to see the show and the cast got to drink champagne with him after in the bar. It was a great way to meet him and he was really funny and lovely.

It’s quite rare for Burlesque performers to use their real name - how come you were endowed a birth with a stage name like Gypsy Wood?

My parents were performers too and they were very bohemian with their ideas about life and I guess my name represents that. I love it when Burlesque performers have original names that you wont forget.

I hear that you have a great lingerie collection – what do you look for when you are sourcing your latest addition? Is there a particular style you are really into?

Well I’m very lucky in that my mother and now my youngest sister are in the vintage clothing industry. So I mostly get my gems through them. They can be found at From Her to Eternity.

Do you have favourite Lingerie brand?
I also love secrets in lace they are the best for retro style lingerie.

Where do you shop for your vintage pieces?
Mostly Vintage fairs but I’m always on the hunt everywhere I go. Shops, markets, eBay, even friend’s garage sales. There is treasure under every corner.
What’s your preferred stocking type and heel?

The 1950’s classic black seemed French heel.

Your a fantastic retro pin-up model. What inspired you to get in front of the camera and strike a pose when you first started?

Growing up in a vintage clothing store with 2 younger sisters dressing up and taking photos was just apart of our family life of fun. Beautiful vintage things always surrounded me and I guess my love just kept growing, as did my collection. It takes a few years to really build up a good collection of vintage clothes. And I’m still learning about the styles of different eras. Next I’m hoping to learn to sew so I can fix and mend things better.

Do you have a favourite photograph of yourself?

I love my photo by Hal Horowitz -- Because I was so happy to be in New York and we had such a fun day running around causing trouble.

What’s the secret to producing a good photograph - Is there a combination which you find works really well for you?

It’s a creative relationship between the photographer and the model. It really is about communication and vision. It is really hard work to get a good shoot and I’m amazed at who many hours go into a shoot. The best photographers know what to tell their models but they also try remaining open to understanding the models own unique style. It’s a balance.

What tips would you have for any aspiring retro pin-up models that are trying to break into the scene?

Just make your own style but always know whom your inspiration is? Do research on the icons you admire. For me I’m inspired by David Lynch, Elisabeth Taylor and the Film the Ballet of the Red Shoes.

Now, you’re the darling of the international Burlesque circuit and even supported Dita Von Teese in one of her acts. Do you remember the first time you went on stage to perform? What was it like?

I was performing at a party body painted as Marie Antoinette with some other burlesque performers where Dita did her bath tube act. She was so amazing and lived up to her name as the queen of Burlesque for sure! And I have to say at the end of the night she came in to our part of the dressing room and gave us the rest of her magnum of dom perignon champagne. She was very charming and talked with us for a while. I think she is a very real genuine person. I know showgirls in Australia who cant even smile at you in the dressing room cause the believe they are big stars.

Are there any Burlesque superstitions out there? For example, women who produce Haute Couture garments have a whole set of superstitions around scissor’s falling, pricked fingers ect ...

It’s bad luck to pick your costumes up off the stage after you have performed. But sometimes it’s just necessary because hell you don’t want them stolen. I send my boyfriend to get everything now. He loves running after people who might have thought they have scored a stocking of mine!

Do you have a good luck ritual before you go on stage?

I try and stretch but mostly this ends in having a drink.

Have you ever locked eyes with a fanciable male or female during your performance? Is it possible to find love in the audience?

Yes it is! my boyfriend used to come to my shows and yell out “Putt some sugar in my bowl” It made me laugh and now we are in love.

Do you have any tips for aspiring Burlesque performers on how they can get themselves regular bookings?

I guess start seeing shows and getting to know people who are producing the good nights. If they wont have you on - put your own night on!

Thank you Gypsy for capitalising the B in Burlesque – you gorgeous gorgeous creature you.

You can catch Gypsy live on stage performing at Ali McGregors’s Late-nite Variety-Nite Night at the Supper Room, Assembly Rooms For the Edinburgh Fringe.

1 comment:

  1. What a fantastic interview, Gypsy is an inspiration of beauty and class.


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