Isis Starr has been performing Burlesque and Striptease for 50 years and has travelled the world on a G-String. A living burlesque legend – she has performed at the Crazy Horse and legendary Moulin Rouge in Paris. She has worked at the Windmill Theater in London and has peformed in Australia, Japan, Thailand, Spain, Morroco, Russia and many more locales worldwide. She’s also been featured on HBO’s Real Sex, Hawaii Five O and Top of the Pops in the UK.
I began dancing when I was 10 and haven’t stopped since then. I danced in a variety of contemporary and modern dance companys. In 1969 I began my career as a striptease artist. I have been around the world on a G-string-twice. I have performed at the Moulin Rouge in ParisI redefine the Art of Erotic dance for all to see. My performances are a celebration of Life , a statement of who I, an out pouring of feminine Power and an adventure in Human Sensuality.(that’s why I’m a Legend, LOL)
How do you feel about being referred to as a legend?
“TO ME IT JUST MEANS I AM OLDE AND HAVE A TON OF EXPERIENCE. UNLESS YOU ARE ONE OF THE IN CROWD YOU ARE STILL IGNORED NO MATTER WHAT YOUVE DONE. BURLESQUE HAS BECOME VERY NEPOTISTIC”
2 What made you choose burlesque over an alternate form of art?
“I WAS WITH TH SF Ballet, and knew I would never make it as a ballerina. I did not have the grit and I had the body to be a topless dancer. Plus the fact that I could actually dance, helped allot. I became a feature act in North Beach in SF in the early 70’s. In 1975 I moved to London to take on Europe.”
3 What was your favourite act to perform?”
I always loved working with material and I am a spin queen.”
4 What was your favourite piece of costume?
“I love capes and material. I can spin almost any type of material. Costumes never really mattered to me. My body was my canvass and how it moved with pr vision and sensuality”
5 What boundaries did you set yourself when determining how racey/provocative an act should be?
“I HAVE NEVER WORKED BLUE ONSTAGE. I have done porn but that is a different medium and my porn is now vintage classic.”
6 What prejudices did you have to overcome to be able to perform?
“None. I knew from the age of 12 when I saw Gypsy that is what I wanted to be, a stripper. So the night before my 21st birthday I actually auditioned at the Condor club in SF and on the day of my 21st birthday I was working as a topless go go dancer. So began 50 year career as a Dancer.
7 What is your favourite cocktail?
Champaign or a Vodka Gimlet
8 What is the top adventure that performing burlesque brought you?
Performing at San Quentin prison, Christmas show 1974, with 3000 men going crazy. I was the first women to hit the stage and the place erupted with the roar of the wild.
9 What city/ festival/ show was your favourite to perform at.
I loved performing in Japan in the 70s. They treated you with respect and dignity. At least they did back then.
10 What other dancers inspired you at the time?
Kim Gaye, Juliet Process, Diana Young
11 What was your biggest setback professionally, and how did you overcome it
Having my luggage stolen with my costumes in it. It crushed me and the burlesque community rallied and eventually my luggage was found.
12 Would you do it all over again? If so would you change anything?
Nope I wouldn’t change anything. Maybe one thing, I would party less and save my money
13 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
To most promoter I do not exist.
About the Burlesque Scene
14 You’ve seen a lot change in the burlesque world. What are some of the good and not so good changes you’ve seen?
The money has always sucked for women.
15 What’s one thing you want to see for the burlesque scene in the future?
Longer shows, I can’t take my clothes off in 4 minutes
16 What pain is worth/ necessary to suffering to achieve greatness in our field? What’s the most important quality a true artist should posses?
I am not one for pain and suffering. I believe that practice makes perfect. Dedication to ones craft is the most important attribute I can think of.
17 What qualities in the individual dancers make a successful troupe?
The ability to communicate and work well with others. You earn Divahood, it is not to be expected.
18 Do you like the direction burlesque has taken – do you think it has strayed too far from its roots
A little and everything changes.