Gabriella Maze

Started dancing in 1970 My first performance was in Spain loved the Burlesque way of life the people the glamor and most of all the travel . I have worked all over the Middle East and Europe. Would I change anything in my life no way I am a lucky gal !

1 How do you feel about being referred to as a legend?

Its an honor to be a Legend but it is also a curse ! So many things come with this title . I take my title as a gift a gift I have to give back to this community by that I mean helping others within the burlesque world sometimes that can be anything from advice to feed back on an act . Also giving in times of need but my main thing is helping other legends and being a voice so to speak I will not honor say festivals that dont book legends if you have no legend at your festival your not coming full circle todays burlesque prides it self on being all are welcome could we please make sure that sticks .cause if your history is missing in your lineup then you have failed in my eyes .And no I dont want to hear we can not afford a legend . Age is so over looked at festivals history is important please use us while we are still able adding one legend to your overflowing lineup of headliners is what needs to be done cause after all are we not headliners .

2 What made you choose burlesque over an alternate form of art?

My love for dance and acting started at a very young age . I auditioned for so many things I was told to short not English rose enough for there lineups it was tough. Hahahaaa I never wanted to be a burlesque performer it just kinda happened .in 1969 I had given up on my dream . A friend gave me a news paper clipping out of the Variety News paper it was for an audition it said looking for principal dancers and non principal call number for location . I was homeless at the time I got the money for a phone booth and called the # it was my last chance if this didnt pan out I dont know what I would have done or where I would be today yes burlesque saved my life I believe that hook line and sinker . I called and the voice on the other end was female her name was Jackie Harris of Maidavale London . She said sorry but auditions were yesterday love . I sighed I think she heard the sadness in my sigh I said thank you and was about to hang up ! When she said are you in London love I said yes she asked if I would be willing to come to her flat I said yes and how long it would take me to arrive I told her about an hour as I had to walk I had no money for a train or bus but didnt want her to know that I was homeless in fear of not being treated fairly . So yes I walked and auditioned in her kitchen and signed my first contract for a six month tour with the Migliorini Troupe . First stop Leon Spain. I started as a showgirl in the back lineup with my top on lol about two weeks in she asked me if I would consider going topless umm for the the extra money I did . About a few months later the troupe was sick of burlesque performers that were hired by the clubs we were booked in that filled in on our middle part of our show for the break as back then all music was on a reel to reel and we needed time to change that reel for the second half of our show sometimes they did show up for work or were late or too drunk hahahaaaa . So Jackie asked me to become there Burlesque performer to solve the problem and yes for extra money I did our choreographer at the time made my acts at first they were simple I was a tiger and danced to a African beat music next I was Shirley Bassy I did Shirly so well that I was given many of her songs the first was Big Spender the second was No body does it like me . Yes Burlesque saved my life and so did Jackie Harris and Luciano Migliorini .

3 What was your favourite act to perform?

My favorite act to perform was Big Spender the costume was fab and burnt orange sparkley and a bright orange huge boa I felt like a million bucks

4 What boundaries did you set yourself when determining how racey/provocative an act should be?

Boundaries there should be non but there always are depending on what country or club I am a firm believer of burlesque should always be sexy and funny some can pull off funny to a T not me I prefer sexy or goddess like acts . dont get me wrong I like funny but not on me I can not pull it off .

5 What prejudices did you have to overcome to be able to perform?

Prejudices dont get me started I could write a book on them in the clubs at the times it was all to real . I am Bi racial and I dont look it as you say today I am white passing . I had to process my hair to keep working . I remember it all to well it was done in Greece at a beauty shop it smelled so bad and yes it burnt I had had my hair straighten before but not perment my Autie did it for me on Sundays for church lol but you cant travel with a oil heater and a hot iron comb right lol so yes I was forced to get it done . The woman that did it took quite pride in my new hair her words were see so much more better no more Afrian Queen . So yes racial tension was real in and out of the clubs I grew up in segregation no it was not easy being Bi racial then nor now .

6 What is your favourite cocktail?

Cocktail ummmm I like quite a few but love Chocolate martinis or a Momosa

7 What is the top adventure that performing burlesque brought you?

Top adventure wow ! I have so many But have to say meeting and performing on the same stage in Greece with Dalida was priceless and also with Charles Aznavor and many more famous greek singers . I performed in Greece or should say was booked in Greece over 21 times yes I loved Greece .

8 What other dancers inspired you at the time?

Dancer that inspired me so many traveling so much I got to see so many so many we all pick up bits or get inspired by many things but for me I would say choreographers would be mine a German named Ralph and one I will never forget. Also Jimmy Green these were both dancers and both worked for and Choreographed for Migliorini and Alison Bonus also of Migliorini .

9 What was your biggest setback professionally, and how did you overcome it?

Biggest setback ummm the day I was told I was to old to perform and the day the world of burlesque changed due to wars in many countries . The first one I just gave up until I found out that there was another burlesque world from Angel Walker aka Satins Angel . And thats a very long story for another day . The second one I came to the USA in 1989 and found a small club named the WILD WILD JOKER ran by Lucky Camarda burlesque was still alive and well in that small Southern club it was different for me only in the fact that it was burlesque dancer after burlesque dancer as I was used to a mix of varitey as in not just burlesque dancers .

10 What incentives interest you most when promoters want to feature you or bring you out of retirement whether for Q&A’s, shows, workshops to remind new generations of burlesque that you paved the path?

Things that intrest me most about being asked to festivals today that they one thought of me and put me on a stage to do what I only know how to do entertain but also that they allow me to teach or to speak offering me a reasonably fee travel and a place to lay my head .. But most of all that they bring in a legend so there public and other burlesque performer can see us not everyone can make it to bhof .

11 What’s one thing you want to see for the burlesque scene in the future?

One thing I would like to see in the future of burlesque mainstream mainstream clubs of burlesque more clubs with varitey

Gabriella Maze

12 What pain is worth/ necessary to suffering to achieve greatness in our field?

What’s the most important quality a true artist should posses?What makes for a good performer talent and energy but most of all humility there is always someone better than you and thats ok remember that and you are not for everything as in its ok to not get all the bookings Take classes please take classes one on ones are best in my book if your looking to do more or to get more from your own self you have to push yourself you have too Rome was not built in one day nor was the earth .Group classes are also good espescaily if you want to keep fit and take in more moves to your already plan the more you know the better you are .

13 Do you like the direction burlesque has taken – do you think it has strayed too far from its roots?

The direction of todays Neo burlesque sometimes pisses me off but in a whole its what each one takes from it I admire it but sometimes it overboard I would say this if you want to dance dance if you can help another life help but dont tell everyone to do what you feel they should do we are each different what makes you happy may not make others happy please leave room for change even if you dont like change .