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An Interview with Scarlet Butterfly

Posted by Sian, Jan 2015. Gary Nicholl's Photography owns copyright to photo displayed to the left. Copyright for images are otherwise indicated in Scarlet Butterfly's gallery.

Scarlet Butterfly is a colourful and multi-talented aerial dance and burlesque artist who performs throughout Britain. She was a finalist for the World Burlesque Games 2015, which were held at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Camden Dingwalls. I first met Scarlet Butterfly at the Victorian Steampunk Society’s stall at MCM Comic Con, London (Oct, 2015).

We had chatted about all things steampunk and her involvement in Gary Nicholl’s amazing Imaginarium project. You may have seen her dressed as the character, Adella Daw for her aerial display. She also plays her part as the Elven Queen. If you have not yet read about The Imaginarium project, please read the article 'The Imaginarium: A Historic Moment for the Steampunk Scene':

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Introducing Scarlet Butterfly

I interviewed Scarlet Butterfly via Skype to find out more about her performance art and where she performs. Discovering how Scarlet is helping change peoples’ perceptions of pole-dancing has been really insightful.

Scarlet has helped me understand that performing burlesque and pole-dancing routines is positive for building confidence, showcasing creativity and celebrating feminine sensuality. I have also found it interesting to learn about how she has been supported by the steampunk community, which hold events across the UK.

Interview

What does Steampunk mean for you?

Scarlet: For me, when I think of steampunk, I think of total creativity. Steampunk means lots of different things to different people. It is influenced by Victorian futuristic ideas, gadgetry, film and literature. It is not bound by rules. When it comes to steampunk I think I’m a bit of a rebel. I like to use it as a platform for creative expression.


Which events have you performed at during the past year?

Scarlet: I have performed at lots of steampunk events and I really adore the steampunk community. I have performed at the Surrey Steampunk Convivial, Great Kentspectations, Haworth Steampunk Festival, The Asylum and the Steampunk Phoenix Festival in Wales.

Aside from this, I have performed my double pole/ fire act with a fellow friend and performer Freyja Fire Sprite, at the 3 Wishes Faery Festival in Cornwall, which was amazing. There’s also the Absinthe and Lace Champagne and Supper Club in (Derbyshire/Yorkshire) where I have performed my Elven Queen, Fire Faery and Absithe Faery acts. At that event, there were award winning magicians and some other high quality performers.

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival was massive for me, as I qualified for the semi-finals for the World Burlesque Games. I reached the finals and performed my aerial burlesque act at Camden Dingwalls back in November (2015). I didn’t win but the experience really built my confidence. 

I was also the headline act for the Wunder Kaberett show in Paris, back in October (2015). There, I took to the pole with my Absinthe Faery act and also a new act with a pink colour theme I developed especially for the show. 


Which of the events, would you say have been have been your favourite?

Scarlet: It’s hard to say because they have all been so different and amazing in their own ways, but if I really had to choose, then I think Wunder Kabarett, the World Burlesque Games, and the Three Wishes Faery Festival were the most memorable.


Where will you be performing during 2016?

Scarlet: Over the past two years I have been trying to establish myself, build up a solid professional reputation and develop my networks. It is good to be starting 2016 with bookings in the diary. Last year I had none at the beginning of the year. All performers experience rejections when they answer casting calls, and it can be time consuming and a soul destroying thing, but you have to keep at it. Giving up is not an option and I feel my hard work last year is now paying off a little now.

I will be performing at a steampunk wedding which is an exciting prospect. Again, I will be performing at the 3 Wishes Faery Festival and also a new (steampunk) event in Pontefract, West Yorkshire. I have 3 new burlesque acts planned for the year ahead too. 

I am also honoured to have been selected as a finalist in the Burlesque Noir Rising Star Competition, which will take place at the Genting Club Casino, Sheffield, in February. 23 of the best burlesque newcomers from across Europe will be competing. The winner will get to perform in the Burlesque Noir.


Would you describe 3 of your burlesque acts?

The Absinthe Fairy

Scarlet: I created a ‘bad trip’ Absinthe Faery act which breaks away from typical burlesque portrayals which more or less show Tinkerbell taking to the bottle. Gary understood the character I wanted to portray and has produced some wonderful promotional images for me.

The Elven Queen

Scarlet: My Elven Queen act is one of my most popular acts. I take to the pole with a long regal cloak, silk corset, a crown of butterflies on my head and lots of flowing beads in my hair.

The Art Deco Fairy

Scarlet: I also have an Art Deco Faery act which I don’t perform very often these days. It was an act I developed for a show I was part of in 2014 called the 1930’s Berlin Diaries which was themed like a cabaret show. I wore silvery wings, embellished hot pants and butterflies in my hair. I perform the act to the Maurice Ravel’s ‘Bolero’ music, which Torvill and Dean skated to at the 1984 Winter Olympics. The act is still however part of my repertoire, and I can always use it.

Do you make your own costumes?

Scarlet: Yes – I make a lot of the costume pieces myself and the concepts for them come completely from me. I customise bras, hotpants, and make from scratch headdresses, masks, faery wings, and ankle and wrist cuffs, for example. I am not so great at sewing and making clothing, so I have a very talented corsetiere to make my corsets and I have an amazing costumier who I collaborate with on other items. Together we have just finished making a butterfly dress. It has taken two years to make and does clever things (to be revealed this year!). It is a fantastic concept and I will be using it for a new butterfly burlesque act.

The red feather outfit which I use in my aerial burlesque act was also made by my costumier.


In some ways, you have made dressing up dreams come true! Has anyone said anything about this?

I have received some wonderful comments from followers on Facebook in response to pictures I have posted. One particularly memorable one was a lovely friend who said that I was ‘majestic’ and ‘what every little girl dreams of being’. I was very touched by these words.

Scarlet Butterfly's Gallery

What have people's attitudes been like towards your pole dancing?

Lots of people say ‘Wow, that’s not what I expected’. I like to describe myself as a cirque style theatrical pole dancer rather than just a pole dancer. I feel my acts change perceptions of what pole dancing is and I’m always trying to get better at what I do.


What would you say is unique about your burlesque acts?

I like to take to the pole in full costume which not many performers do. They may typically wear gym pants and a top but not elaborate costumes in the way I do. My USP (unique selling point), is that I like to bring a narrative and story to my acts and I often work with fabrics or other props whilst performing on the pole, which is quite unusual for a pole dancer.

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