Miss Tobi James has been in the industry for 20 years! Performing, teaching and producing shows.
1 What do you look for in an act.
This is probably going to sound corny but the first thing I look for is love for performing, someone who can really draw a audience in, weather it be comedy, dramatic, bump and grind, singing etc….. They must have a stage presence and have something special about their act.
2 What was the best booking you ever made.
Oooh that’s really hard to answer tbh… My audience are completely in love with quite a lot of people who have performed at my shows… But I adore Velma Von Bon Bon and she is a real pleasure to work with.
3 Top 3 dream line up….
4 How do you think the scene has changed.
The scene has changed alot since… well social media became what it is, I’m quite old school so there was a certain way you would do things, ie.. Work on your craft.. Go to shows everywhere, offer your help, make friends in the community face to face (there was no Internet lol) and work your way up through doing different shows, travelling, sleeping on couches etc… Unfortunately now there is a mentality of I’ve done a “burlesque course” and I’m now a performer and I want to charge £200 per act.. But I know nothing of those who came before me.. Or the burlesque history or heritage. So that makes me sad, I’d say do your homework research and work hard.
5 Do you think promoting has become easier or harder.
Oh definitely harder, even though we have social media, it’s a constant battle to fill a audience for a show…
6 What made you start promoting.
I live in a small town, and I just wanted to be able to bring something different to the people.. I wanted to share with them the thing that makes my heart sing, I love burlesque and cabaret, actually it’s my life… I believe that the theatre can change a person’s life even for a moment. No matter how rubbish a day someone has had, we create a magical safe place for them.
7 What are your top tips for performers applying for one of your shows.
I always encourage performers to send me their cvs however 90% of my casting is by invite only.
I appreciate a video (even if it’s off your phone or filmed in your front room!)
It gives me a sense of who you are as a performer.
I’m always looking for a new laugh out loud act…
8 What does a timeline of key events, for a producer/ promoter look like for a show?
Wow umm so I produce three “big” shows a year so March, August and December.
For March I actually start in January booking artists, choreography for my troupe the kitty katz & Tomz.. Posters.. And promoting, and so on through out the year,. I also run my students showcases every 8 weeks and I also do two charity events a year, so keeping busy is a good thing.. Keeping the audience wanting more.. And also listening to the audience about who they want to see.
9 What was your first show like ? any hic ups ?
The first show I actually produced in my home town was amazing it was for a charity event and we sold out and raised a lot of money… I did however realise that the team I am surrounded by is like gold dust, don’t try and do everything yourself and allow others to help you.
I honestly can’t imagine doing any of my shows without the amount of heart, help, talent and support of my show family.
10 Biggest achievement so far ?
I’d definitely say holding a show at the majestic theatre in Darlington, although the management were less than helpful.. Seeing my dad in the audience looking so proud was amazing ❤️ and let’s face it seeing the cast of a burlesque show playing in a huge soft play after the show… I’ve never smiled so much ♥️
14 Plans for the future ?
I’d love to have a show in Blackpool at the end of the pier with my troupe and burlesque friends xx
15 What makes you unique as a producer ?
Umm I think you might have to ask anyone who has performed at one of my shows…… Ooh is it that I make everyone sing before the show?! 😂
16 And what’s the best thing for you about being a show producer
Oh my word…. Seeing the thing I love, being enjoyed by the performers and audiences alike xxx
17 Advice for new producers or anyone considering going into it
Haha… Do it for love not money!
18 Do promoters/ producers have little sisters and brothers who they help/allow to shadow/ mentor with the ways of putting on a show effectively?
Ummmm I don’t think they do… But it’s a hard one as its different for each person and I’ve worked very hard not to give away all my secrets 😉 I would definitely say that make sure you do your research
19 What are your turn on’s and turn off’s when it comes to performers?
Be professional and friendly, if a promoter asks for your email and or pics by a certain date… Do it!
Back stage don’t be a drama queen, if it’s a good environment back stage then the show will always be awesome.
Don’t message me after you have done burlesque for a few months with a snotty message and expect a fee for £500 for one act….. It happens way more than you would think 😂😂😂
Don’t make us chase you.
20 What would you like people to know about your job that isn’t common knowledge?
Oh my gosh, I work like 16 hour days most days and definitely don’t get paid for it!
21 Why do you do it?
Because I love it and I’m probably slightly crazy 🤪
22 How can we as in industry reach out to new audience members?
By bringing more variety into our shows, by getting out into the community, bringing sample shows, workshops, classes, etc…
23 Glitter. Love it or hate it?
It gets everywhere!!!! Hate it…. Sorry.