Miss Burlesque Ireland 2015: Lady Veneray

With Miss Burlesque Ireland 2015 taking place this weekend, NewsFour managed to grab a few minutes with one of the contestants, Nikki Brooks – or as she is better known on the burlesque scene, Lady Veneray.

Unlike the typical superhero alter ego which is kept secret, Nikki enjoys the support of her co-workers in Ballsbridge, where she works as a secretary: “A good few of my colleagues are hoping to come and cheer me on!”

If it seems strange to imagine taking the step from secretary to burlesque performer, the seed of the idea came from a somewhat unlikely source: Dublin’s rock scene, where the art of alternative burlesque was finding a home. Nikki’s act grew from there: “I started out with a four-girl troupe which wasn’t quite to my style… as a performer I much prefer to act out the comedy and cheesecake side of burlesque. Making fun of myself and making people smile while being glamorous is my absolute goal!”

The main influences for Nikki’s act come from classic radio and film: “I am very much addicted and obsessed with Old Time Radio and movies. I adore film noir and a good ol’ private detective yarn, and so from that an act grew around the theme of The Third Man.” This is not the only source, however, as her eclectic background also plays a role: “I used to be a drum and bass DJ for many years, believe it or not, and to mark that I wanted to choose a piece of music that would work on stage. I went with a 4hero remix of a song by Minnie Ripperton called Les Fleur, and from that a Mother Earth-style act was made.”

Inspiration can come from anywhere, and she is always on the lookout for new material: “Thinking of acts never stops and can be spurred at any moment! Watching the likes of Rita Hayworth and Barbara Stanwyck, or watching something like the Stanley Kubrick film Barry Lyndon are things that have me literally jumping to get ideas flowing from brain to stage!”

Having struck out on her own and defined her style, Lady Veneray now also performs with fellow contestant Santina Spitfire, as comedy flapper dancing duo The Honey Drops. The two are producing a show in Greystones on July 25, which will feature a number of Ireland’s premier burlesque performers.

Miss Burlesque Ireland 2015

Nikki Brooks, aka Lady Veneray
Pic: Hector Heathwood

The format of the Miss Burlesque Ireland competition is similar to other pageant-style events, with the contestants all competing across three separate performances: “The Classic act is burlesque from the golden age of 1920’s to the 1960’s. We are required to incorporate many technical dance moves from this era, only use music from this period, and also make sure costume and overall theme is reminiscent of this glamourous time!

“The next is Neo-Burlesque, which is classed as the modern revival of burlesque. This is where performers can take inspiration from the golden era and make it more their own, through music and props. Here contestants have a bit more room with their own styles and tastes bringing something to the stage that is individual to them.

“Once all contestants have performed these two acts and the elegant gown parade, the judges (all sitting in front of the stage, X Factor-style!) will pick their final and favourite five. These five need to then go on and perform their unique act. Here you have much more free reign and pretty much anything goes as regards props, music, costume, extras on stage, lighting, projectors, using poles or aerial hoops and whatever effects you have conjured up! Then Miss Burlesque Ireland is crowned along with Miss Burlesque Dublin.”

Miss Burlesque Ireland 2015 will be taking place from 6.30pm in Temple Bar’s Button Factory this Saturday (July 18), so keep your fingers crossed for Lady Veneray! You can book tickets here.

By Aimée Mac Leod