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New Orleans burlesque superstar Bella Blue: the woman behind the glitter

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The first time we saw Bella Blue, no actually, the first time we saw burlesque – was at the Contemporary Arts Center’s (CAC) annual Bourbon & Burlesque fundraiser about five years ago. Not being well versed in burlesque before attending the event, we had a very simple (and incorrect) idea of what burlesque was: just stripping.
As the various dancers performed their routines, it became obvious that burlesque was MUCH more than simply stripping. Yes, the dancers took their clothes off, but these were all out performances. Costumes, makeup, and choreography mixed in with some humor and satire and of course, a whole lot of sexy!
One of the performers from that event was Miss Bella Blue, a New Orleans dancer and producer, who has cemented her name in the burlesque world, and who we are proud to feature as our first Local Artist Spotlight of 2015!
Artist Spotlight : New Orleans burlesque superstar Bella Blue: the woman behind the glitter | IntheNOLA.comA classically trained ballerina, Bella Blue actually got into burlesque completely by accident. “I had been dancing for most of my life, but at the time, there were very limited options for becoming a full time performer for a living,” Bella explained. “So I started communicating with another performer via MySpace. One thing lead to another and I did an audition a few weeks later. A month after that, I did my first show and the rest is history! My name started off as ‘Jazzabella Blue’; I made the common beginner mistake of wanting to pigeonhole myself into a shtick! I thought that I would do nothing but jazz music, but I quickly learned that that’s not how it was going to work for me and I cut off the ‘Jazza’ part.”  
She continued, “On and off stage, Bella are one in the same for the most part! She is human, of course, and has her vulnerabilities. But letting those show on stage is OK, too. Bella is strong, fierce, and tapped into her sexual nature. Her body is her medium for artistic expression. And her audience is her muse and inspiration.”
Although not always the case, the burlesque scene now is New Orleans “is on fire,” Bella described. “When I first started performing, there were only about 18 active performers and roughly 3 shows a month. Now, you can see burlesque just about any night of the week. We are also starting to see a mingling of the drag and burlesque communities, burlesque play, and nerdlesque (a mixture of burlesque and nerd culture). We are seeing classic shows, themed shows, and everything in between. It makes me really proud to see this community growing. It really represents the true survivalist nature of the city.”  
She added, “There are so many performers in New Orleans who are killing it! GoGo McGregor is so fierce on stage. Nikki LeVillain just moved here and is a real life snake charmer. She brings her snake babies on stage and it’s mesmerizing. Darling Darla James incorporates sideshow and sex appeal. Cherry Brown does classic like nobody else! Charlotte Treuse is also another classic beauty and the audience always loves her. I really could go on and on! For outside of New Orleans, I need about five pages for this! But, some of my absolute favorites would be Darlinda Just Darlinda, Kitten n’ Lou, Ariel Hel Vetica, Stormy Leather, Donna Hood, Indigo Blue, Bazuka Joe, Sammy Tramp, Gal Friday, Peekaboo Pointe, Rosebud. I really could go on and on!” 
New Orleans burlesque superstar Bella Blue: the woman behind the glitter | IntheNOLA.comFor Bella Blue, being a burlesque performer offers both its challenges and rewards. “I think the most rewarding thing about being a performer is being a part of people’s first time experiences. I’ve gotten to perform for so many burlesque virgins and that experience will stay with them for the rest of their lives. I feel really honored to be able to be a part of that. The most challenging part would be separating normal life stuff from the stage. It’s not glitter and rhinestones all the time!”
In addition to performing locally, nationally, and internationally, Bella Blue runs the New Orleans School of Burlesque, where she and other burlesque guest teachers from across the country teach burlesque classes to NOLA women. “The purpose of my classes is not only to let women have fun, but also to help build their self-confidence as a performer. Whether a student is looking to perform on stage in the Student Showcase or she just wants to try a new form of dance, everyone can benefit from burlesque classes. Learning to move in an artistic and sensual way does wonders for you self-esteem and body!”
For those up and coming burlesque performers, “stay humble, keep taking classes, and don’t be afraid to ask for and accept critique,” she said.
Bella Blue is also a huge proponent of…#pussymagic! “#pussymagic was inspired by Charlotte Treuse. She has an act titled PussyMagic. It became something that we would say backstage as a term of encouragement before going on stage and now it’s evolved into a real life philosophy and something that I incorporate into my teaching. It’s essentially the art of being able to channel your strength and creative energy from your sex. Female sex organs are incredibly powerful, but we live in a society that doesn’t encourage us to embrace and use our sexual energy. My intention behind spreading the message of #pussymagic is to encourage other women to learn to channel and use that energy. In the long term, I would love to educate more men about that power. I’d love to be able to show them how to embrace and encourage it in the women in their lives without feeling threatened by it.”
Touring the world, instructing the next generation of burlesque stars, and cultivating #pussymagic, Bella Blue is certainly one busy woman, one who’s committed to her craft and her city. She concluded, “I love every goddamn thing about this city. I am born and raised here. I have traveled all over the country and in Europe and there is no place like New Orleans. I love this city’s energy, the laid back atmosphere, the traditions, culture, the survivalist nature. And it’s fantastic that New Orleans is so rich in burlesque history.”
To learn more about Bella Blue, visit her website, Facebook, and Twitter.
Last modified on Thursday, 25 February 2016
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