• Gabriel Featherstone

“This Life of Debauchery!”: Roxy Stardust and The Glasgow Festival of Burlesque

Roxy Stardust is a multi-award winning burlesque performer from Glasgow. She's also the founder and sole producer of The Glasgow Festival of Burlesque. During her illustrious career she has toured the US on multiple occasions, performed in venues all over Europe and dedicated herself wholeheartedly to the revival, maintenance and growth of Scotland’s burlesque industry. Roxy said: “I wish I had an interesting story, but I just kinda started. There used to be this forum called The Ministry of Burlesque and it was basically just a forum for performers. I came across it one day and thought ‘I’m gonna give this a try.’

“I’ve always been interested in old vintage erotica and that’s kinda how I found it. I just kinda fell in and started from there. My act became more comedic the more I explored burlesque and thought ‘this is what I like and this is what I enjoy’. I love classical burlesque and I’m obsessed with it, but for me as a performer it just made more sense to be onstage doing the funny.

Photo courtesy of Roxy Stardust

“The Glasweigan and Scottish theme I try to put on everything is ‘cause I’m really proud of being from Scotland. I’m really proud of being a Glasweigan. That kinda just came with time. I’ve grown into myself. I just kinda fell into it, this life of debauchery!” Although she is the sole producer of The Glasgow Festival of Burlesque, the production team has grown to include fellow performers Raphael Risky, Miss Dancelicious and various others who contribute to the smooth running of the shows. Roxy said: “I put out the applications and I facilitate putting together the shows. I do have other people I go to with questions, like Raphael Risky and Tootsie Annie, but all the final decisions are mine. “Raphael is great. I always say he keeps the little bit of sanity I have left by the end of the festival. He’s the voice of reason.” The Festival – which is now in its seventh year – was forced to take place entirely online in 2020 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. According to Roxy, this didn't affect the quality of the festival’s content. “I knew people were talented, I knew people were great performers, I just didn’t expect the love and the dedication. “The creativity has been incredible. Everybody’s really put their heart and soul in. I feel really grateful and overwhelmed that people would go to that effort for the festival. “I always wanted it to be good, but I didn’t realise how much other people cared about it and the pandemic has really made me realise that people really want it to be good. They want to see things grow. That’s been really lovely.” In addition to hosting several shows, featuring a wide variety of local and international performers, the festival also provides a number of workshops for people interested in trying burlesque themselves. Roxy said: “Our workshops are open to everyone. They’re open to all genders. They’re open to everybody. We’re really inclusive.”

Talking about how the pandemic has affected her life, Roxy said: “The biggest thing for me is I miss the community aspect of burlesque. I don’t think we appreciated it, but after this we’re going to appreciate it more. I miss eating a bag of chips with someone while waiting for a train at midnight in a ballgown! “On the plus side, I think it’s a positive opportunity for people to be creative. This has affected my mental health, but for six weeks I was able to draw, I was able stitch, I was able to do these things because I was forced to take some time off. So I feel kinda refreshed, which is good!” The Glasgow Festival of Burlesque takes place in November and is currently hosting a number of online workshops. More information about these can be found here: http://www.glasgowfestivalofburlesque.com/

Photo courtesy of Roxy Stardust