I was recently commissioned to write a short freelance newspaper article about the rise of burlesque and sensuous-styles of dance and fitness in Singapore, and chanced upon Sukki while doing some research. As I suspected, it turns out that we really don’t have a burlesque scene here in terms of performances, which is probably why she’s based in Chester, UK.
So I wrote to her and asked if she’d mind giving me her opinion on the topic, and if I could interview her for my blog. After all, I’ve never heard of any professional burlesque performers hailing from our tiny sunny island!
What do you think is the appeal of burlesque/ sensual style fitness for women?
For me it’s all about feeling beautiful as a woman – being sensual, and becoming familiar with everything that makes you feminine. Burlesque is an art that teaches you to love yourself and the body you are in, and to portray these feelings when you’re performing. I think it’s that positive feedback which makes it incredibly rewarding as a performer – and likewise enjoyable as a fitness style.
I think as modern cultural views change, people are more aware and open to exploring new ways of expressing themselves. There has always been a preconceived idea of these ‘different’ types of dance – the idea that it’s a tabooed activity associated with exhibitionism and the undermining of feminism – which it’s not. I think modern Burlesque stars such as Dita Von Teese, who recently came to Singapore to perform her sell-out show, have helped change this conception. They’ve brought these styles of dance into the ‘mainstream’ and allowed us to embrace the idea that it’s actually all about feeling great about oneself as an individual. I think it’s that personal positivity that appeals to the modern woman (and man!) of today.
Any thoughts on burlesque in Singapore?
When I first started learning the art of Burlesque, it was unheard of in Singapore! I remember my parents wondering what on earth I was doing! Only a few years later, opinions and culture have changed dramatically. I feel extremely excited and passionate every time I hear it mentioned in Singapore, and even though I’m based in the UK, I feel a huge sense of pride as a representative for Singaporean Burlesque. Many people throughout the world regard Singapore itself as mysterious, passionate and exotic, which, in many ways, Burlesque represents. And similarly I’m also passionate about enhancing this impression by converting my fellow Singaporeans – but one sequin at a time!
How and why did you get into burlesque?
When I was younger I trained in Classical Ballet, and used to love dressing up. Putting on a beautiful dress and dancing on stage was so exhilarating. It was not until I got older, and discovered vintage style and fashion that I heard about Burlesque. Immediately I was drawn to it, and fell in love with the beauty and glamour of stars such as Dita Von Teese and Catherine D’Lish. It was Kalani Kokonuts who made me realise that as an Asian female, I could draw on my Singaporean roots to create a fusion between old Bollywood films I used to watch as a child and the classic pin up looks of Marilyn Monroe. I’ve loved every bit of my journey since!
I am extremely flattered to be the face of Singaporean Burlesque! I have never been more proud of my home country as I am at this moment in time!
How long have you been in your current burlesque career, and what were you doing previously?
I’m a relative newcomer to the scene. Less than a year into my career I’m already blessed enough to have been given so many opportunities. Before I started in Burlesque I worked in IT! I’d sit at my desk dreaming of one day “making it”… every penny I made that didn’t go towards bills went into secretly stitching together costumes for the shows I’d hope to perform.
What are the challenges of being a burlesque diva?
So many! The pressure of having to develop new routines… I can spend months coming up with just three minutes of performance time… then there’s the elaborate costumes, hair, makeup, heels, transport and practice, practice, practice! But… I wouldn’t swap it for the world!
I’d say it’s all about developing a personal style. The moves and routines will come with time and practice, but developing a style and a look takes time. With Burlesque becoming increasingly popular, your act really needs to stand out.
What are your other interests/hobbies?
When I’m not performing I really enjoy spending time with my two cats, Seven-Of-Nine and Ivan-The-Terrible. I also enjoy tinkering with vintage cars, furniture and… shopping!
Have you ever done any pole dancing?
I’ve tried it several times. I even bought a pole for my house to practice on. I think it can be an extremely elegant and sensual form of dance. I only wish I had the upper body strength to be better on it! I have a great amount of respect for women who can dance on the pole. It’s an acrobatic feat and takes tremendous control and skill.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
I like going out in my old 1980’s leather jacket and a pair of dark jeans and becoming anonymous for a bit! When I’m performing I do my hair and makeup and get into the role of whichever character I’m portraying. Sometimes it’s nice to go shopping without any makeup and my hair scraped back.
And anything else you want to add?
I’d like to say thank you so much for chatting to me about this. I’m so touched to represent Singaporean Burlesque, and hopefully I’ll be able to perform in Singapore soon!
Well Sukki, I really hope you perform here too, I’d definitely go watch!
You can connect with Sukki on her Facebook page