Chicago has a thriving burlesque scene, and without a doubt, the biggest name in that scene is Michelle L’amour. She’s appeared on “America’s Got Talent,” she founded the award-winning Chicago Starlets, she co-founded Naked Girls Reading (which now boasts 16 chapters around the world), and she’s trained future burlesque stars for the last nine years. Four years ago, Michelle established her burlesque “dojo,” Studio L’amour which just celebrated its fourth birthday with a Summer Student Striptease Showcase. I got the opportunity to sit down with Michelle and talk about Studio L’Amour, her history in burlesque, the Chicago scene and the Chicago Starlets’ upcoming show at Joe’s Bar on August 2nd, “Live NEW’D Girls.”
Can you tell us a little about the history of Studio L’Amour?
Studio L’amour just celebrated its four-year anniversary with the Summer Student Striptease Showcase. The girls performed burlesque for an audience for the first time. It’s always such a fun show because the energy is so exciting and new!
What inspired you to start teaching burlesque?
People asked, really. I used to teach kids ballet, jazz, and hip hop. I was doing burlesque on the side and kept getting more opportunities. It seemed like a natural progression to begin teaching burlesque. I’ve been teaching this primarily for about 9 years. I no longer teach children!
What can a burlesque novice expect to get out of a class at Studio L’Amour?
Ladies can expect a huge burst of confidence! It takes a lot to overcome those first class jitters, but after that first hour of class, I see a remarkable difference. The first couple classes are more about the basic moves of burlesque and the history. Then you progress on to learning full routines with props, such as boas, gloves, bras, etc. The props and choreography change every session.
Have any Studio L’Amour students gone on to pursue burlesque professionally?
Many graduates of Studio L’Amour have moved on to become Chicago Starlets, who were awarded ‘Best Group 2010’ in Las Vegas at the Burlesque Hall of Fame. Several girls have moved and are able to perform in other cities with other troupes. It’s very rewarding!
You got a show coming up on August 2nd at Joe’s Bar. Can you let audiences know what they can expect at this show?
This show features brand new acts from everyone in the show. It’s nothing you’ve seen before. Last year we started this idea of doing a Summer showcase of all the exciting and fresh stuff everyone had been working on and it went over great so we decided to do it again. It’s going to be fabulous.
You have created quite a name for yourself in the burlesque world, winning Miss Exotic World in 2005. How have you seen the burlesque scene in Chicago grow since then?
The Chicago burlesque scene has really expanded. There is just so much interest in classes and shows. There are many groups out there and so many different styles. We tend to move towards the classic style of burlesque instead of the punk or performance art brand of burlesque. That is what we teach at the studio.
Do you have any advice for someone just getting started in the burlesque scene?
Take time to learn! Treat burlesque as the art that it is. It takes time to grow and develop into the burlesque star you want to be. Patience, my dear!
Thanks to Michelle L’amour from taking the time from her busy schedule to chat with us. If you’re in the Chicago area, be sure to check out her upcoming show at Joe’s Bar (tickets available here) and if you’ve ever had dreams of entering the world of burlesque, why not get trained by a modern-day legend in the neo-burlesque scene at Studio L’amour? If only every town could be so lucky.
Thanks for reading and we’ll see you all for next week’s Tuesday Tease.