Talia Tiramisu’s joy of performing in burlesque began in 2009, captivated by the self-expression, humor and costuming the art form offered. “It’s an embracing of everyone no matter who they are, in burlesque,” said Tiramisu in a recent interview.
“As a grad, straight out of burlesque class, we do what’s comfortable,” Tiramisu said. “It’s the type of art where there is great personal choice in the movement, costuming or creativity with which you express yourself.” The opportunity for creative expression was so important to Tiramisu, that only at the very end of our talk did she mention how “empowering it is to hold the stage during your time in front of an audience while sharing a story with them.”
To watch her perform it’s hard to believe that Tiramisu had stage fright to overcome. “It was the same with the singing too.” Singing is not as common with burlesque performances but other troupe members such as Hazel Humdinger and Boobscoops also sing occasionally.” Tiramisu rose out of the Lola Spitfire School of Burlesque, in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“Each of my numbers starts with a song or concept I like. Personally, I like to add humor. I wouldn’t classify myself as a traditional dancer,” Tiramisu said.
Traditional in the burlesque world is what many of us have come to expect: women in dresses bedecked with boas, gloves, stockings and garters and performing to older music standards that are usually instrumentals.
Tiramisu is more the neo-burlesque wing, branching out farther with variety and creativity. “Costumes take time to put together. I do it all myself -even the pasties except for the Swarovski crystal ones made by my fellow dancer, Hazel.
She has appeared on stage as a pea pod, a honey jar and a robot. In addition to dances based on characters or a comedic premise, Talia has also created statement pieces, although this genre of dance is not prevalent.
“I have one where I come out as a pig. As the number goes on, a male dancer I work with comes on and audiences see the shift in power. I like to strip the negative stereotypes and stigmas that men and women must deal with in domestic violence situations,” Tiramisu said. She always hopes it will be appreciated and well received when she does perform it. Her reward has come from comments afterwards from people it touched deeply.
Tiramisu describes her childhood as sheltered and later, like many young women, working through low self esteem. “Burlesque helps a lot to feel good about yourself and your sexuality. It’s an art form and it comes with a community of supportive and creative people,” she said.
Now, as an adult and a stunner on stage, the mother of a soon-to-be young adult daughter, Talia still reaches back to those early years for some of her inspiration. “The ‘Pea Pod’ comes from a song I loved as a kid. There’s also a Mary Poppins dance because I like doing characters,” Tiramisu said.
Is the character or the audience her focus while on stage? “Most definitely it connects me to the audience and I’ve been told everyone in the room feels pulled in to the song and their own memories.”
Audience members have their own experience and burlesque encourages the same for every performer. “We find our own niche. Different people lean towards different styles like traditional, characters or humor-driven pieces. Some like Rockabilly. I love the creativity of it and that brought me to my robot piece,” Tiramisu said.
The “Robot” number is a real highlight of fun and really smart circuitry in the detailed work. Tiramisu’s electronics background and day job in fail testing and analyzing computer components helped. “I used circuit boards and had to trouble-shoot their rewiring. Then I had to figure out how to put it into a costume and line up LED lights for the traffic light effect. The remote control was a challenge. To get the direction on demand working the way I needed it to, I took apart the remote control of a model helicopter and used that,” she said.
Transformation for Tiramisu doesn’t just happen in time for a costume change for the stage. “Burlesque helps improve self esteem and it’s a new avenue of experience. And it’s fun.”
Burlesque is also addictive. Dancers get instant feedback along with the fun. “I heard about it. Then I checked on line and saw there was a class right here in town. Public performance was not on my mind, I mostly wanted to pick up some fun moves for me and my boyfriend at the time.
I didn’t fully understand what burlesque was all about till I saw a performance. I was so impressed by the dancers.
I was especially inspired by Hazel Humdinger, Whiskey Darling and the courageous Ruby Sparkle. I’d always been that little girl in the talent shows full of fun and dreams. I thought this was a good bet to get over my shyness that had stayed with me all the way into adulthood, but I got hooked. Now, there’s a rehearsal every week and I’ve performed with the Peaks and Pasties Troupe from Denver to Pueblo and this year we are out of state too,” Tiramisu said.
Reflecting on her upbringing, Tiramisu said, “To a degree, my love of singing, painting, drawing all help each other. There wasn’t the money or opportunity to express myself in this way as a child, so I’m doing it now.”
Tiramisu’s many interests as diverse as the origins of religion, of philosophy and her many loves in art weave their way into her burlesque shows. She is also an accomplished painter. While she reduced studio time when she bought a home and threw herself into home improvements, she has since resolved to apply herself and paint again towards an art show. She recently cheered the troops at Fort Carson Army base’s USO center..
Adventure and exploration with activities such as hiking and her newest passion, rock climbing, keep her life well rounded and her mind and body fit. It’s a good thing too because Tiramisu has a weakness for desserts. “I am half Sicilian after all,” she said, sweetly.
Talia Tiramisu seen here performing her Mary Poppins routine: