Burls-Bridge Lady

Pictured Above: Lady Veneray, comedy / cabaret performer.

Pictured Above: Lady Veneray, comedy / cabaret performer.

By day, Nikki Brooks works in the commerical property industry in Ballsbridge, but by night she transforms herself into Lady Veneray, a comedy/cabaret performer on Dublin’s nascent burlesque scene.

The burlesque scene in Dublin has been expanding over the years, accommodating belly dancers, magicians, aerial artists and the likes, and is something that Brooks accidentally found herself involved in.

Brooks, pictured above, had previously been a drum and bass DJ operating under the monicker of Beatnik, and had started taking up burlesque classes for fitness purposes. However, as fate would have it she began to make friends in the scene and the rest was inevitable.

After selecting her stage persona of Lady Veneray (not an easy thing to do in the burlesque world, as things can very quickly go south if you use another performer’s name) Brooks ended up dancing in a troupe of four girls. However, her fellow travellers wanted to go down the ‘gorelesque’ route, while Brooks is more a fan of what she refers to as “classic, cheesecake burlesque.”

“I started hanging out with people, then within a few months I was on stage wondering how the hell this happened,” Brooks told NewsFour. “After the first act, I felt I needed to do this again.”

Nikki brings her act to this year’s Miss Burlesque Ireland competition, taking place in The Button Factory on July 18th. The competition, which originated in Australia, is being run by Azaria Starfire, one of the stalwarts of the Dublin burlesque scene, and is one of burlesque’s most prestigious events.

The contest accommodates 11 participants, of whom only five go through to the next round. It involves the preparation of three different performances by each performer, with categories devoted to classic burlesque and what is known as neo-burlesque, the most common version of the artform to be found today.

Last year’s competition was a sell-out and proved to be something of a baptism of fire for Brooks, who did not progress into the final five. As a result, she had considered dropping her act altogether, but a motivational talk with a friend brought her back into the fray.

Brooks told NewsFour of the dedication necessary when entering a competition of this scale, with great toil going into studio time, money and the creation of high standard costumes. In fact, her daily commute into work is largely spent listening to the same songs over and over again, mentally choreographing how the song will fit into the performance!

“I know what I’m getting into this year. Unless you’re going to put your all into it and take it seriously, then there’s no point.”

As of now, Lady Veneray has made quite a name for herself in the realm of Dublin burlesque. Brooks is currently one half of a dance duo called The Honeydrops, featuring her friend Santina Spitfire. The pair wowed punters at last year’s culture show in Bray’s Mermaid County Wicklow Arts Centre with their act, playing two drunken characters during Prohibition America.

Since then, The Honeydrops have received bookings for private events, prohibition parties and vintage fairs.

By Craig Kinsella