Our cover girl Katrina Darling spoke with us about her life as a burlesque dancer. The talented Katrina is cousin to Royal Kate Middleton, often landing her in the headlines, but as we reveal, she’s a smart, creative and super-talented…
1. The attitude towards burlesque dancers – presumably because of the striptease side of it – is often different from that to modern or ballet dancers. Going from there, how do you cope with the negative attitude this may cause and what kind of affect has it had on your relationships?
After having been put in positions of public speculation, and throughout life, I’ve learned that you’re never going to please everyone; it would be pretty exhausting attempting to. I have of course received both negative and positive attitudes and opinions, however, I have great people around me to keep me grounded and don’t take life too seriously. In my personal life I’ve experienced a lot more positive than negative over the years, the negatives relationship wise have mainly been down to others’ insecurities. At the moment Im happy, Im lucky enough to have someone with the patience of a saint and my best interests at heart. I perform to people from all backgrounds and one of my jobs as a performer is to to get a reaction from the audience, which is my favourite part seeing how different people react to different things, where people draw lines. There are a rich variety of performers all around the world ,a lot of them trained ballerinas, aerialists, fire artists, gymnasts the list goes on and these are all skills honed and used in their acts. Its not all about the strip tease, but its an obvious part.
2. You were on the cover of Playboy in September – something that would widen anyone’s audience. How has it reflected on your career?
Being part of Playboy for me was always something I was going to say yes to. I’m very proud to be a part of such an iconic magazines history and being a tad more heavily tattooed than your usual cover girl, it was a bit of an achievement. Ive been working at my chosen career for over four years ive always known I’ve wanted to create my own work since i was a child, so I take it as Karma bringing me good things, but admittedly I’ve never been a great handler of stress so I try not to exhaust myself too much.
3. I’m guessing your bookings have increased since Playboy, but on the other hand, do you feel more pressured to do certain things or act in certain ways now that the number of eyes on you has grown significantly?
Its taken me 22 year’s so far to try and figure out who I am, and im still learning. To start pretending to be someone I’m not would be pretty hard visage for me to keep up, so I think its best I just stick to being myself. I’ve had several times in the past where I had promoters ask me if i’d sent them the right music as my acts arent particularly cookie cutter to the burlesque scene either. I have always had acts to tailor to events and had a lot of flexibility in what I do as I just simply enjoy performing, but I think now I actually feel a lot freer to experiment with different things to put on stage that I may not have felt I could do before.
4. Has your family been supportive and how do they feel about this; especially now with the huge media attention?
My family and friends are amazing honestly, all they want is for me to be happy doing something I enjoy which I can support myself with, I think thats what most parents want for their kids. I dont particularly pay attention to the tabloids but i think my parents do sometimes get a little protective when there’s negativity, but its kind of water off a ducks back for me. But no special treatment over my brother and sisters.
5. I’ve met many burlesque dancers and performers who’ve been trained as ballerinas. What other forms of dance, if any, did you practise before getting into this, and what steered you towards burlesque?
I did gymnastics for about 10 years as a child and did a lot of floor and bar work which I think gave me great body awareness as a child, as well as personal competitiveness. Recently I’ve learnt a lot of fire skills and am currently doing a lot of Yoga, ballet and I am learning aerial skills – which is something Ive been wanting to do for a long time. I find it hard to be in the gym and prefer to learn a new skill.
6. You perform to all kinds of different audiences. Tell us about your ideal setting to perform.
Everytime its different, something I love about my job. I love the process behind creating and tailoring a brand new act to a corporate event, I love the camaraderie and bawdy atmosphere of the cabaret clubs and burlesque shows, but most of all I love performing in the club scene, dirty music, live art, bands, the busyness and high tension, the cramped sweaty back stages, I feel most at home in that rawness.
7. Not working in a nine to five office setting, you’re probably bound to come across something unusual. What would be the strangest/funniest thing to have happened to you (in relation to dancing)?
Mainly the old costume malfunction! A nipple tassel flying off mid act or a merkin not staying where it should, or chain thongs snapping all together and having to hold it up for the rest of the act, not that anyone would think that wasnt part of the plan in my line of work. However, I do always have fun when performing a fetish clubs.
8. Having started with your performance act at the age of 18 and now performing and modelling all around the world, you seem very determined. What do you have in mind for the future?
I’ve always been fiercely independent as well as creative, and usually pretty outspoken. That personality doesnt particularly suit the 9-5. I’m bright, I just find it hard to bite my tongue sometimes. So I know whatever i’m going to do I have to make it work, the problem is I still dont know what I want to be when I grow up. So I guess I’ll keep trying new things and working hard at them. Aside from burlesque and modelling I am a make up artist, I design all my costumes and make clothing, I put my shows together, direct shoots and do some styling here and there. I’m pretty resourceful so im sure I’ll be able to find my feet someday.
Interview by Ella Hagi for Supplementaire Art & Fashion Journal