The Art of Burlesque

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Launch Slideshow

Ahead of this week’s Erotic: Passion & Desire sale in London on 16 February, Sotheby’s hosted a Valentine’s Day party sponsored by Coco De Mer featuring the crème de la crème of the burlesque scene. Miss Allison England was on hand to greet the guests on arrival at a packed New Bond Street before further entertainment from Miss Fallon Dee, who has worked alongside the likes of Stella McCartney and Elton John. There was a variety of performances throughout the evening, including a show-stopping turn by Missy Fatale plus music from Miss Polly Rae who showed the audience exactly why she’s been at the top of her game for the past ten years. Click ahead to see highlights from the performances alongside some exclusive behind-the-scenes shots and quotes from the performers.

Erotic: Passion & Desire
16 February 2017

The Art of Burlesque

  • Miss Polly Rae: “Sex makes the world go round. Everybody loves something a little bit naughty and cheeky, and to get a slice of that in the mainstream is unusual. What’s so remarkable about Sotheby’s doing this auction is that it’s making it accessible.”
    Photo: Lara Arnott

  • Missy Fatale treats the audience to a 1940s-style feather fan dance.
    Photo: Lara Arnott

  • Miss Fallon Dee: “People find erotica so intriguing because they are either a little bit scared of it or they’re really into it. It tends to be one or the other. I can see why Sotheby’s is getting so much attention for this sale — it’s so fun. I just want to dive on that bed!”
    Photo: Lara Arnott

  • Missy Fatale’s creations are influenced by a plethora of sources including vintage erotica, French surrealist literature, Lynchian strangeness and 1940’s Film Noir.
    Photo: Ambra Vernuccio

  • Miss Polly Rae: “When I discovered this art of burlesque, I was amazed there are no rules. I could sing whatever I wanted and wear whatever I wanted — and I loved that level of creativity.”
    Photo: Ambra Vernuccio

  • Miss Allison England describes herself as a ‘spanking expert, artist and sexual educator’.
    Photo: Ambra Vernuccio

  • Miss Polly Rae: “You only need to look at old artefacts to see that sex has been around since the dawn of time. They used to carve erotica in to stone, but it’s only now that it’s become more socially acceptable. People are more daring and brave. In a sale like this it’s the older works that I find the most interesting.”
    Photo: Ambra Vernuccio

  • Miss Fallon Dee: “I’ve been a performer of some kind my whole life, but when I was 18 I started dancing at the Moulin Rouge in Paris. It was my first-ever job. Its’s one the best things I could have done for myself as a young performer.”
    Photo: Ambra Vernuccio

  • Miss Polly Rae: “Burlesque began in the late 18th century but was pioneered in the ‘40s and ‘50s in America. Gypsy Rose Lee was the most famous burlesque star of all time along with Tempest Storm and Sally Rand, and when I was first introduced to burlesque I was fascinated to research the whole history of the art form.”
    Photo: Ambra Vernuccio

  • Miss Fallon Dee: “The Moulin Rouge is another world, a proper showgirl world. What you would expect is exactly what you get! The first time you go topless at the Moulin Rouge, and you’re walking down the stairs with your heart pounding and then you hear the applause – it’s phenomenal. When you get on stage you feel free, you feel sexy and womanly.”
    Photo: Ambra Vernuccio

  • Miss Polly Rae: “It’s not about being a professional dancer necessarily; it’s about the way you connect with your audience, and your character. It’s someone who knows and owns their own sexuality and wants to project and exaggerate it for an audience’s pleasure.”
    Photo: Ambra Vernuccio

  • Miss Fallon Dee: “I’m a trained dancer so my performances are highly energetic and very choreographed. What’s great about burlesque is that everything is your own: the concept, the moves, the ideas for the costumes – we are always getting to create.”
    Photo: Ambra Vernuccio

  • The party sponsor Coco De Mer provided outfits for the performers, as seen here on Missy Fatale.
    Photo: Ambra Vernuccio

  • Miss Fallon Dee’s love of burlesque has taken her around the world to places such as Tokyo, Australia, New Zealand, Amsterdam, Verbier Switzerland, Monte Carlo, San Francisco and Germany.
    Photo: Ambra Vernuccio

  • Miss Polly Rae: “Men enjoy it, but the majority of the burlesque audience is female and that’s because they love to watch a woman being empowered. It’s glamourous, it’s sexy, you want to be them — you’re not jealous of them. A warmth comes from a burlesque performer that’s not intimidating. It’s accessible, fun and inclusive.”
    Photo: Ambra Vernuccio

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