Chicks Chat Beauty with…..
Immodesty Blaize is best known as one of the top Burlesque performers globally. With a sparkling career spanning over 15 years she is one of the leading lights in bringing Burlesque back in vogue and making it a once again universally appreciated art form. She was crowned reigning Queen of Burlesque at The Las Vegas Hall of Fame. She is also a two time published author of ‘Tease: The Secrets of a Showgirl’ and ‘Ambition’ and producer of the film “Burlesque Undressed”, which screened at cinemas in over 30 countries. Immodesty is the epitome of vintage showgirl glamour, exuding poise, elegance and sexiness! We at Those London Chicks couldn’t be more excited to have a chat with Immodesty about all things beauty.
French women are known for effortless looking glamour and style. Are there any beauty secrets you’ve picked up from living in the South of France?
Well some of the makeup trends in Nice are interesting – dark lipliner with pale lipstick, lots of silver eyeshadow, not sure I’ll be experimenting with those…. Aside from that the look is fresh, as with heat and humidity a full face would slide off in no time, or be swept off when speeding through the ocean on your yacht, dahling! So fresh skin, a good powder to keep off the shine, and mascara are my friends, and a slick of red lipstick if that’s my mood. For something glam it’s all about the sunglasses! I wear a lot of scarves, turbans and Bardot sunhats to combat humidity-frizz, though I wouldn’t say that’s necessarily a trend here. I carry a parasol too, I have olive skin and I go dark the second I step in the sun. I’m not a slave to SPF as I believe what it does is delay the ‘warning’ sunburn, whilst not effectively blocking the damaging UVA rays over these extended periods, and many sunscreens contain retinyl palmitate, retinylacetate, or retinol (vitamin A, linked to acceleration of cancer cells) and oxybenzones (which can disrupt hormones) so I prefer my skin to tell me naturally when it’s had enough sun, then I stay under my parasol.
Who are your beauty icons and why?
Sophia Loren for Italian beauty, womanliness and a good amount of campness too. Ava Gardner for flawless elegance and passion. And thanks to Yma Sumac, I managed to accept my cat-eyes and high cheekbones (which had caused so much bullying as a child!) I loved how she accentuated her features and was proud of her exotic look. In fact everything about Ms Sumac’s top to toe styling is so darn fabulous.
We at Those London Chicks are advocates of promoting healthy body confidence, which you possess in spades. Was that always the case growing up or did that evolve?
I was self conscious as a child due to being bullied for not looking English. I then grew very body aware at a young age as my mother was anorexic. By the time I’d developed I actually became scared to lose my hips, bumand bust, the things that made me woman-shaped. Perhaps that’s why I gravitated so extremely to curves and the cartoonish silhouette that corsetry and costume could create. I was a size 14 in a size 8 world when I began performing burlesque but I made that work for me, as they say ‘if you don’t fit the mould, break it!’ I had no idea my performances would be so popular, I’d had no plans to make it a career. But the audience responses I guess made that choice for me, and 17 years later I’m still on stage. I dropped a few dress sizes over the yearsand where before I’d get ‘yikes, big bum’, now I get ‘yikes, your bum’s not big enough’ Now THAT makes me laugh, and it illustrates perfectly the absurdity of our society’s trends. You can never let your value or tastes be governed by other people or trends, you and you alone decide how you want to look and what you like.
I’ve always been driven to carry on flying the flag for curves, body acceptance, and embracing differences. I walked the runway with Marie Helvin and a load of impossibly beautiful, reed slim models, and there was me, bringing the thighs for everyone…and that was cool! I’m neither thin nor perfect, but I had something different to offer, I can’t be them and they can’t be me. That’s why I’m an ambassador for All Walks, (allwalks.org) which works to promote individuality and diversity in fashion.
I’ve received so much fanmail over the years from girls with eating disorders or body image problems, my only way to reach out before was through my performances and shows. But now I’m finishing my new book, which has been 3 years in the writing! I’ve worked with various experts and have taken a million courses and seminars to research it, extrapolating out into quantum physics and neurobiology, it’s been an unbelievable journey. I really was driven from within, I’d not felt so strongly about something for a long time. This book is how I can reach out more directly to women and I’m very excited. I’ll be able to talk about it very soon.
Have you had any hair or makeup disasters……go on, pray tell?
Going blonde for 2 years wrecked my hair, it took a long time to grow out. I’ve had makeup disasters if I haven’t had good light to do my face, I’ve stepped out and seen myself in a mirror, and thought, “who’s that drag qu…Oh it’s me”
What are your ‘go-to’ looks for say, a catch up with friends or a dinner date?
An easy 30 minute look is slicked back hair, large bun, black eyeliner, red lips, statement jewellery, and wear something black. Or a nice masculine tuxedo, heels and sling on a turban. If I have more time I curl my hair.Dinner date…that depends who it’s with really! My husband gets the full glamour treatment!
What does ‘Beauty’ mean to you?
It’s self acceptance. That radiates out. And what you see in yourself, you see in other people like a mirror, so when you feel your own beauty, you can find beauty everywhere in the world around you.
Thank you so much Immodesty!
Interview by Karen Bryson xx
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Feature photo credit: Luc Coiffait