UK-based burlesque artist Bootsy Bonafonte is a force to be reckoned with, serving up plenty of old Hollywood glamour with a side helping of rock and roll. Her repertoire includes Classical and Neo-Burlesque, with her performances creating a contagious sense of the fantastical. A regular performer with House of Burlesque and The Folly Mixtures, she is a delight that audiences love. Bootsy also runs her own side hustle @bootsybakes. So, if delicious vegan desserts are your bag (pancake cake with salted caramel and Baileys cream, anyone?!), definitely give her an Instagram follow!
Charlotte Pacelli (CP): Thanks so much for talking to me today. It’s always fun interviewing a fellow Folly Mixture! I love to hear about the artists that Burlesque performers look to for inspiration. Who is your Bling Icon? Anyone rocking their Swarovski and Preciosa Best Life? Which costume of theirs would you love to get your hands on?
Bootsy Bonafonte (BB): My bling icon has to be Sasha Velour. I especially love their season ten finale look. The Alien Eve outfit? It is GORGEOUS!
CP: I saw the trailer for their UK touring show, the use of technology looked super interesting! Now that the world is slowly getting back on its feet, and dancers are getting back on their heels, what are your own costume goals for the next year?
BB: I'm coming to the end of my second year studying for a degree in Performance Design. So, my costume plans for the next year are to make some fun pieces, whilst I improve my technical skills. I’ll hopefully get to wear some of my creations myself.
CP: During lockdown I watched one of the Folly Mixtures’ online shows, in which you epically performed your sustainable oceans mermaid striptease in your lounge. I totally loved it. Can you describe a bit about the act and the costume for readers?
BB: My plastic hating mermaid! I love her! I wanted to create an act that addressed the issue of plastic in the oceans, but doing it in my own style. I wanted to use humour in some way. I saw the work of an artist who had painted some of the Disney princesses in real life situations, including Ariel surrounded by pollution and I thought “That's it! I'll use burlesque to get this same message across”. I wanted to use a familiar fictional character but put her in today's world. So instead of maybe seaweed as a boa, she has a boa made out of crisp packets. Instead of cute sea creatures surrounding her, it's bits of floating plastic. It sounds morbid but honestly, it's not too heavy! The audience normally ends up singing along to “Part of Your World”, which is cute but also quite surreal.
CP: I am always here for a Disney sing-along, in any context. Can you tell us a bit about the most irritating costume moment you’ve had?
BB: It's got to be a Folly Mixture costume fail! It was on our theatre tour with “An Evening of Burlesque” and we were doing showgirl-style number. It came to a section in which we were supposed to take bras off but mine wouldn't undo. I made the decision that it was going down my body (somehow!), so I turned to fellow Folly Storm Hooper, said "Oh dear!" and kept eye contact whilst trying to force this bra down and off me, centre stage. It felt like forever and there was a second where I thought it wasn't going to work. It definitely wasn't the most flattering way of getting a bra off under the spotlights... Though I'll always remember Storm's face. So helpless yet so hopeful my plan would work!
CP: Ah, the glamour! Finally, a question to help the newer performers reading this. You only have one hundred Preciosa crystals to sparkle your next costume. Which item would you add them to and why?
BB: Ooh a tough one! I'd say a guitar piñata prop for my “My Sharona” act. Mainly because a piñata gets trashed in each performance, so that would be a luxury to be able to crystal it with flatback stones, just to immediately throw it around on stage afterwards!
CP: As a pro crystaller, the thought of rhinestoning a piñata to be immediately destroyed fills me with utter dread…
To find out more about Bootsy Bonafonte, here’s where to start:
Website – BootsyBonafonte.com
Facebook - @BootsyBonafonte
Twitter - @BootsyBonafonte
Photos by @lenamaelenman/ @vsanchorstudio