Mark Curry catches up with Alotta Piernas (aka Izzy Crouch), founder of Hastings Burlesque which made its debut at the White Rock Theatre, 23 September 2017

How did your debut show go?

It went very well – a sellout, an amazing crowd of 120 people. [There were] a few behind the scenes hiccups but none of the audience noticed! All of the performers were lovely and delivered an amazing show. We have had some excellent reviews.

You also raised money for a local charity?

We raised £529.25 for the Hastings Furniture Service, specifically to support the workshops they run in local women’s refuges that boost self-esteem and help develop practical skills which allow the women to move forward with their lives outside the refuge.

How did you get into burlesque?

Through pole dancing!  I started about 10 years ago in Swansea and there is quite a lot of crossover between the pole dancing  and burlesque worlds – and so I met a lot of people who performed burlesque. Seven years ago, someone asked me to perform in their show. So I did and the rest, as they say, is history!

Where did you find the other performers?

I was lucky to get a group of amazing performers together for Hastings Burlesque’s first show.  A lot of them I know from Swansea’s Blue Stocking Lounge shows (Cariad Cwtch, Eddie Kelly, Primrose Proper, Nala Nilrac). They are all friends so I didn’t have to work very hard to persuade them. I told them I was putting on a show, gave them the date and they all came down without me asking. And Gigi Martini is a well-known local performer who was recommended to me.

What is the worst thing that has happened to you while performing?

Nothing bad in burlesque – but in pole dancing, there was one performance that was in a very hot and sweaty venue.  I was performing with a few other of my friends and none of us could actually perform as the pole was just too sweaty and slippery! That was quite a disaster!

What has been the most daunting part of organising the show?

The thing I was most worried about was what the crowd would be like – I knew the acts were good, that the venue was good. The unknown factor was whether the audience would get it or not. And they did! They were a very good crowd.

Did anything happen that wasn’t to plan?

A couple of days before the show, the compere cancelled so I had to step in to do that, as well as co-ordinate and perform. Then, on the night, one of the performers didn’t turn up. We were saved by Gigi Martini doing two acts – she did a special song for her friend’s birthday.

What makes a good performer?

A good performer is someone who is very confident on stage. I don’t think it is as much about being a skilled dancer. It is someone who is confident and [it takes] someone with a sense of humour to put a good routine together. Burlesque is for everyone … well, over 18!

So what’s next for Hastings Burlesque?

Tickets are already on sale for our next show, The Christmas Crusades, on Friday 8 December, at The Palace Bar.

We are [also] running a five-week course that will involve building body confidence, learning how to own a stage and interact with an audience, how to use the power of tease and some classic burlesque moves. At the end of the course, there will be a workshop with a guest instructor.

The course will enable all women to feel more comfortable and confident in their own bodies and to learn how to celebrate their bodies. It is suitable for women of all sizes, shapes and physical abilities and ages (over 18) and is accessible for women with disabilities who may want to try something a little different …

HIP readers can buy tickets and sign up for more information about the forthcoming classes at www.hastingsburlesque.co.uk