Nine women boasting some very colourful stage names will perform their Cheesecake Burlesque Revue in Surrey on the night of Saturday, Feb. 8.
Among them is a Victoria-area woman who goes by the name of Champagne Sparkles, who on Twitter calls herself “Head Cheese, Ray of Sunshine and Master Organizer” of the show.
On Surrey Arts Centre’s Main Stage, she’ll be joined by Ginger Kittens, Dollipop, J McLaughlin, Quiche Lorainne, Rose Lemonade, Cinnamon Kicks, Gala Vega, GoGo VanGo and stage manager Roamin’ Holliday.
The women don’t reveal their real names, for security reasons.
“The reason we do that is because we perform close to nude, and so that does put us at personal risk at times, and we do try to keep our private lives private,” said Sparkles, who has a biology background and does environmental consulting, giving her a life of “glitter and gumboots,” as she described it.
Others in the burlesque troupe work for a university, the government, in the service industry and elsewhere. “Someone is a bank manager, another is a hair stylist and we have some people who are parents,” Sparkles added.
Together, these fun-loving Cheesecakers have brought some glitter and sass to audiences around the world since the troupe was created in 2006. With a mix of song, dance, comedy and plenty of skin, they’ve made stops in Las Vegas, New York, New Orleans, Paris, Rome and Berlin over the years.
Their day in Surrey on Feb. 8 will include hosting Burlesque Dance Workshop, for a $30 a person (call 604-501-5100 for details, using course code #4699538). The lunch-hour lesson, planned from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., is open to anyone who identifies as female.
“Otherwise it’s open to everybody of all shapes, sizes and dancing abilities, and it’s just a fun couple of hours,” Sparkles explained. “We typically do that in every city we visit. And if someone also has a ticket to the show that evening, they have the option of performing a short bit with us on stage, too. Depending on the size of the workshop we usually have five or six people, or up to 30 people, get on stage with us. They don’t do any striptease but they get to come up on stage and show what they’ve learned at the workshop, so that’s fun.”
Fourteen years ago, the troupe got started pretty much by accident, after a few friends got together for a burlesque workshop to celebrate a birthday.
“At that time there wasn’t much burlesque happening in Victoria,” Sparkles recalled, “so we brought over a performer to spend the day with us, a big group of friends. We had such a great time and learned the history of burlesque, and came up with these names and had a fantastic day. That evolved in doing a party with burlesque, as a show, and then we got invited to do another event and it went from there. It grew with some additional performers and it just took off so fast. Word spread and we’ve been touring, really, since the first year we’ve been together.”
A promo video of the show is posted to cheesecakeburlesque.com, along with testimonials, tour dates and ticket details.
Seats for the 8 p.m. show at Surrey Arts Centre are $25/$35. Call 604-501-5566 for info, or visit tickets.surrey.ca.
“Our audience is quite diverse and a wide range of ages – I would say typically from late 20s to 70s,” Sparkles said. “We usually have well over 50 per cent women in the audience, it’s often friend groups, girl’s night out, some folks on dates, mothers and daughters.
“We feel like we are empowerment ambassadors,” she added, “and we have a mission to give people a really entertaining night out, with lots of smiles and laughs, along with leaving our show feeling good about themselves. Every body is a good body, and every body is beautiful.”