SERVICE stations certainly aren’t known for their glamour.
But if you stop off at one over the next few weeks, don’t be surprised if you see a clutch of vintage beauties dolled up to the nines as you peruse the pasties and sausage rolls.
For the House of Burlesque troupe has been clocking up hundreds of miles in their tour bus as they take their show out of London and into the provinces – and their next stop is The Mayflower.
Led by international burlesque showgirl Miss Tempest Rose – who created, directed and stars in Shipwrecked – it promises to be quite a night.
Expect an extravaganza of corsets, stockings and heels combined with a dazzling mix of unforgettable songs, choreography, cabaret, circus, and lots of tongue-in-cheek style humour.
For Tempest explaining the art form – a sexy form of cabaret which combines dance, comedy and striptease – is quite simple.
“If it looks beautiful, if it makes you feel good about yourself and it’s sexy and entertaining, then that’s burlesque to me,” she says.
Joining her on stage are the likes of the gloriously-named Miss Betsy Rose, Audacity Chutzpah and Jolie Papillion.
They have taken Shipwrecked everywhere from Newcastle to Eastbourne, and Hull to Llandudno already, and Tempest says the feedback has been fantastic.
“It always surprises me how many people haven’t seen burlesque before,” she says.
“I think we’re in a little bubble in London.
The really nice thing about getting out of the capital is reaching out to people who either have never seen it or who don’t get to see it often.”
After working in musical theatre, Tempest – who prefers not to disclose her real name – got involved in burlesque five years ago, and hasn’t looked back.
“It is the only art form that embraces the idea that women are not only beautiful and sexy, but funny, intelligent and powerful as well. I really fell in love with that.”
She started her career with The Kitten Club – London’s longest running burlesque troupe – and still performs with them regularly.
In a relatively short space of time, the 30-year-old has seen big changes in people’s perceptions.
“When I first started, people didn’t really know what burlesque was.
“But then around three years ago, it was big news all of a sudden. People were talking about it and the press were writing about it a lot.
“At the time, we thought it would last a year, but it kept going. Now it seems burlesque has reached a level where it’s a type of entertainment people accept is always going to be there, rather than just a fad, which is great.”
Tempest set up the House of Burlesque in 2009, which is now the country’s leading burlesque production house.
“Still occasionally you do get people who think that burlesque is ‘posh stripping’ – it’s rarer now but it does happen,” she says.
Explaining how she describes the gulf between the two, you get the feeling it’s a stance she is used to defending.
“The majority of the audience at a burlesque show are female, which immediately changes the dynamic from something like stripping where the audience is predominately male,”
she says. “Secondly, burlesque is performed for entertainment, not for sexual gratification.
“Another important difference is that you don’t pay a burlesque performer to take her clothes off, you buy a ticket and you sit down and watch whatever show she decides to put on.
The power role there is completely different.”
So that’s the serious bit over.
It’s a good thing because Shipwrecked couldn’t be more light-hearted if it tried.
It sees the House of Burlesque girls get shipwrecked by a terrible storm on the Island of Temptation after setting sail on their round-the-world tour.
The glamorous beauties then try to cope with island life, meet new friends, and learn to survive in style.
So if it’s rhinestones, crystals and feathers you’re after, cast away with the Shipwrecked girls and prepare to be dazzled.
Don’t miss Shipwrecked at The Mayflower on Sunday, October 14, at 7.30pm