Charlotte Pacelli (@primpmycostume): I’m particularly excited about your interview, Dave. You’ve been at the forefront of the UK Boylesque scene for an era, so I reckon there’s some great stories and advice in that hunk of a man-frame! Let’s start with the worst costume malfunction you've had on stage and how you handled it?
Dave the Bear: Oh I have had plenty of these. I think the most common for burlesque performers is getting stuck in something and having to rip it off and worry about the consequences later. I was recently wearing a leather jock strap on stage which has poppers at the front and I caught one on my belt and my manhood fell out. I also had quite big gloves on so couldn’t put the popper back for ages. The boss of the whole company was in that night too, and this was in a supper club whilst everyone was eating their steak tartar.
CP: Just a casual day at work. We’re all learning something new today, people. Now I think you may have some good tips up your sleeve/ jock strap for newbies. In your opinion, what are some common costume mistakes you see new performers making?
DTB: It’s not overly common but one of my biggest joys in life is when a new performer does a balloon pop act and puts all the balloons on in the dressing room and then can’t fit through the door to the stage and has to pop half of them to get through. I have actually seen someone do it knowing it would happen and didn’t stop them. I’m going to hell!
CP: We’re all going to hell for that, don’t worry. We actually let that happen to one of our own Folly Mixtures, who got stuck in a theatre dressing room (sorry Ella Boo…). I think discovering how much of a ball-ache preparing a balloon-pop is, is a rite of passage for any burlesque performer. In recent years, I’ve noticed that Facebook and Instagram have really perpetuated trends in particular costume pieces. Have you noticed any current costuming trends on the circuit?
DTB: I think RuPaul's Drag Race is inspiring more women these days, I know plenty of girls who have seen runway looks on that and have adapted the look and it’s a great way to find inspiration, I think certain queens on that also look at burlesque performers too for ideas.
CP: I can totally relate. I have genuine love for that programme. Some of the runway looks have been so inspiring. Moving on, can you share with us some of the considerations that you have learnt to be important when designing or buying a costume?
DTB: I think updating a costume is important. I’ve been doing an act of mine once a week for about 8 years but the costume has changed and improved over time. None of it is the same as the original costume, so it stays current. The choreography and music have remained but the costume gets a glow-up every year or so.
CP: There’s only so long one can be Febreezing for! Lastly, give us a sneak peek into your vision for your next costume?
DTB: I love a cowboy look, it’s a good way for a man to stay masculine but also dress up. I have quite a few butch looks so I kind of want a more flamboyant one, kinda Mexican and with a bejewelled bandana over my face. That sounds rubbish but I can see it in my head!
Interview by Charlotte Pacelli (Liberty Sweet) Director of costume makeover service @primpmycostume (IG/ Twitter/ Facebook) / co-founder of London’s leading Burlesque Troupe @thefollymixtures/ original Hurly Burly Girly for @themisspollyrae
Photos by @scottchalmersphotography/ @manelortega