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Burlesque, seductive art of tease

(standing) Deana Nicholas, of Brisbane and Kate Morgan, of the Northern Rivers, poses for a portrait at a burlesque and pin-up workshop, ran by Viola Vixen, of Byron Bay, at the Byron Bay Entertainment Centre on Saturday.
(standing) Deana Nicholas, of Brisbane and Kate Morgan, of the Northern Rivers, poses for a portrait at a burlesque and pin-up workshop, ran by Viola Vixen, of Byron Bay, at the Byron Bay Entertainment Centre on Saturday. Jerad Williams

A BEVY of beautiful babes beavered away in a burlesque and “pin-up” workshop at the weekend, learning how to enhance their already remarkable assets and make themselves even more alluring.

The glam workshop was one of many throughout Australasia led by Viola Vixen, a Byron Bay native and self-proclaimed “buxom burlesque bombshell”.

At around six feet tall she is hardly buxom, but she is the fulsome founder of The Bombshell Burlesque and Beauty Academy, and acc-ompanying her fondness for alliteration is a portfolio of talents, ranging from theatrical, acrobatic, costumery and, of course, dance.

The 17 women of varying ages who attended Saturday's session learnt some of La Viola's best dance moves, including “peel” techniques and bump and grind routines inher-ited from burlesque's classical age, the 1940s and '50s.

In the interests of professional journalism, The Northern Star was curious to learn what burlesque was exactly, and investigate what precisely went on in these workshops.

Viola was just the woman to tell us.

“It's the art of tease – a combination of dance, acting, modelling and striptease,” she said.

“It's designed to build tension between what people want to see and what they can't. So even taking a glove off can be erotic.”

Corsets – and how to remove them – are a staple part of burlesque, and were evident on Saturday as the freshly made-over vamps strutted their considerable stuff upstairs at the Byron Bay Entertainment Centre.

One of Viola's students, Victoria Jeffery, of Lennox Head, said burlesque provided “a nice way to bring back the art of flirting; to put the mystery back into sex”.

As well as the dance routines, the trainees received an hour of being “primped and preened to pin-up perfection” by Viola's hair and make-up specialists, Davina Mercy and Haylee Comet, before being photographed.

Paige Flint had come to the workshop from the Sunshine Coast with her sister Courtney, who owns a '50s-themed cafe at Beerwah. They were “really into pin-ups”, Paige said, and were looking for some shots to put up on the cafe walls.

As well, there had been plenty of laughs during the morning's dance class and show, she said.

“It's been a lot of fun.”

Viola's mum was once a Playboy magazine cover model, but now lives a much quieter life in Byron Bay.

Meanwhile, her daughter continues to fly the flag, expanding her Bombshell academy to provide lessons in hula hoops, go-go dancing, Barbie Shop Choir, finishing school and fan dancing.


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