Burlesque Essentials: What every performer should have in their kit

Burlesque - Miss Charlotte Cake

Burlesque. What first comes to mind when you hear that word? Glitter? (Yes, there happens to be a LOT of it, and it gets EVERYWHERE. Rhinestones? (Yes, that too). Carpet Tape? (uh.. what?) Yes, I said carpet tape.

When Miss Charlotte Cake asked me to write a burlesque article for her blog, I thought about what kind of knowledge I could impart that hasn’t been run into the ground a million times before. Something interesting, resourceful and educational. The EUREKA moment hit me as I was packing my makeup case for a gig.

As I picked up my leotard glue (you’ll find out what that is soon) it hit me; I’ll educate the masses about what the ultimate burlesque essentials are, what every burly-q performer needs to have on their person when performing, at a shoot or where-ever our shimmy shakin’ endeavours take us.

So, here’s my top ten (in no particular order). If you have anything to add (which I know there will be tons more!) do so in the comments below.

Spirit Gum/Carpet Tape/Eyelash Glue

Ah…spirit gum. My necessary, but burny-ouchie friend. What is it? It’s basically a type of glue used by make-up artists and performers alike to adhere everything from faux facial hair to pasties (nipple covers) onto your person. Pros: It is probably one of the most safe options in terms of ensuring your pasties won’t fling off and take out someone’s eye in the audience. Cons: It BURRRNNNSSSS – well, for me it does anyway. I use it because it’s a fail safe for me, especially when donning a moustache. However, my sensitive skin is allergic to it, so when I do wear it on my face, I end up with a fake ‘stache (aka. an allergic reaction) on my upper lip. Sexy. Otherwise, in Aussie, carpet tape is a more popular option if you can get it for sticking on your nipple hats.

If you don’t have either of these things, a good lash glue may help you, but I wouldn’t go sticking heavily ladened or tasseled nipple hats to you with it. Also very handy to have on you if your fake eyelash falls off. If you do use spirit gum, make sure you have coconut oil on hand to help take it off. Which leads me to my next staple.

Burlesque - Miss Charlotte Cake

Image by Froger

Coconut Oil

Yes! Nutritious and one of the most effective ways to take off stubborn make-up. Have latex eyelash glue that just won’t budge? Want to try and take glitter off your eyes without leaving your poor eyelids feeling like sandpaper after? COCONUT OIL! Seriously. Whenever I’ve done a gig, I get into the shower with a flannel and my coconut oil and rub it all over me, especially the parts I’ve used make-up on and spirit gum.

Watch it disappear while also giving your skin a dousing of moisturising goodness. Be a bit careful around the eyes though, as oil in your eye isn’t the nicest experience. However, if you’re doing a quick change backstage and need to change your make-up, I wouldn’t use coconut oil as it will repel any other make-up being put on.

Leotard Glue

I remember when I discovered this, I has a ‘hallelujah’ moment. What is it? Ok, so you know when you watch gymnasts do their thing while wearing leotards? How is it, despite them doing triple somersaults, cartwheels, jumps and rolling on the floor that their leotards don’t ride up? The answer? LEOTARD GLUE! Basically it’s a water-based adhesive, which looks and can be used like a roll-on deodorant. Roll the glue across your skin, along the inside line of where your panties or g-string will be, allow it to breathe for a minute, then stick your panties/g-string over it and VOILA! No ride ups, no movement!

Best thing is, since it’s water resistant, it washes off both your clothes and you super easy. Win!

Burlesque - Miss Charlotte Cake

Photo by Froger

Concealer/Powder

Everyone thinks burlesque is all about the glamour, gliding across the stage with effortless grace. Well, yes.. But no. The amount of bruises, carpet and fishnet burns us burlesquers get from either rehearsing, or feeling the adrenaline while on stage and going all GUN-HO is pretty intense! If you’ve got bruises in places which are going to be revealed and easily seen, be sure to pop a bit of colour correcting concealer on and then some powder on top.

Also, POWDER – it’s a god send. Obviously there’s the powder you contour with etc, but a good translucent powder is fabulous for those mid-performance breaks where you’re rather sweaty and you want to matte out your face instead of having it glisten (yep, glamourous – I told you, it gets really hot under those lights and backstage!).

Sewing Kit

The amount of times I have praised the sparkle gods that I’ve remembered my sewing kit has been pretty often! Wardrobe malfunctions happen right before you even step a foot on the stage sometimes. I’ve had a tassle come off my pastie once, and I’ve witnessed an entire g-string strap snap off, amongst other things. Be prepared and have sewing essentials such as a needle and thread, scissors and safety pins in your arsenal.

Burlesque - Miss Charlotte Cake

Baby Wipes

Yes, baby wipes. Glorious baby wipes. Need a quick refresh in between performances? Need to take off your make-up? Baby wipes! There’s plenty of other uses for them too – but there are a definite must-have. You won’t regret it.

Business Cards

I’m pretty terrible at forgetting business cards, but if you’re serious about wanting to make a career in burlesque, networking and promotion are pretty important. Make a habit of having them on your person, or at least backstage, when you’re at a gig, so if someone wants to book you for their next event/show/private party for example, then you’ve got all your information handy.

An Extra Costume

On the odd occasion, a performer may end up calling in sick on the day, or a show may be running well ahead of time and they need a fill-in act. Always bring an extra costume – something that doesn’t take up too much space so you can put you hand up and say “PICK ME!” for when a producer asks one of you in the bill if you can perform an additional act. Ensure you also have your music with you, which leads me to my next staple.

Burlesque - Miss Charlotte Cake

Photo by Peter Jennings

Backup of Music

Always have your show music with you – whether it’s on your phone, or on a USB stick. I keep all my music easily accessible on my phone, so if a technical issue does arise on the day, I can either send it to the technician or I can play it from my phone. Or be super organized and pre-organise a USB. This also means if you need to be a fill-in act, you have your music ready and waiting. I use Google Drive to store mine and use the app to access it.

Lipstick

Undoubtedly, you’ll need to refresh your lippy throughout the night. So always be sure to have one on hand in your purse, as well as a little mirror (or if your powder as talked about previous has a mirror, use that). Failing that, I’m sure another performer backstage will have one they can loan you!


Lilly Loca is vivacious, tenacious and everything in between! Her witty (filthy) humour and her natural ability to make audiences laugh till they cry are just a few of the wonderful features that Lilly brings to any performance.

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