She’s lauded as “The Mexican Spitfire of Burlesque” and it’s a title aptly deserved when you witness the fiery spectacle Ruby Champagne delivers! The performer has been dazzling audiences worldwide for several years, hitting stages in London, Paris, Toronto, Los Angeles and many others. If you’re not familiar with this entertainer, it’s time you two get acquainted.
I first had the pleasure of seeing Ruby Champagne in action at The Federal Bar in Long Beach, California. The restaurant used to host a weekly burlesque Sunday brunch event in its underground vault. And let me say, the show was just as amazing as it sounds. I can still recall mimosas overflowing and Miss Champagne emerging in glitzy gowns, which she sensually shed layer by layer to jazzy tunes played by a live band. It was tantalizing!
The artist’s style pays homage to the heyday of old Hollywood allure that translates wonderfully in her pinup photo shoots. You’ll see her polished with raven locks, seductive attire and perfectly painted, classic red lips.
In celebration of World Burlesque Day, which occurs on April 26th, I’m debuting a blog series that will highlight a variety of talent in the scene! The holiday is quite new and was introduced in 2020 by world-renowned burlesque performer Sapphira to commemorate this performance art form. The date she chose marks the passing of one of history’s most lauded burlesque stars—Gypsy Rose Lee who died April 26th, 1970.
I’m kicking off the series here with a special interview with Ruby Champagne who takes us behind the velvet curtains to share her experience as a performer.
Q: What inspired you to become a performer, and how did you get started in the world of burlesque?
A: I started my burlesque career by taking classes at NY School of Burlesque in 2003, studied the history, attended as many shows as possible, and accepted any type of stage time I could get. My inspiration to become a performer stemmed from my love of glamour, glitz and dance!
Q: I love that you’re known as “The Mexican Spitfire of Burlesque!” How did this title first emerge?
A: Thank you! My tagline was given to me by a friend who helped me boost my exposure in L.A. Burlesque. He said I had many uncanny similarities to Mexican film star Lupe Velez, who was known as “The Mexican Spitfire.” I agreed that our lives seemed to parallel in some ways, and she was a Cancer as well. So my friend said, “You are The Mexican Spitfire of Burlesque!”
Q: What’s your creative process when coming up with ideas for your stage performances?
A: An idea for a new act can stem from a song or a costume or just a concept one wants to express in a performance! Most of the time I will connect with a song and visualize choreography and costuming. If it starts with a costume piece, it could take years to connect to a song but eventually I’ll find the fitting song to perform with the costume. Sometimes it could take years because I want to create a costume that will exceed my budget—which I feel happens for a reason because during that time my ideas change, and I visualize something totally different than the initial concept. All in all, it feels very rewarding when the opportunity comes to present these new acts.
Q: You’ve performed in shows all around the globe. Which has been the wildest and most fun for you?
A: They’re all fun in their own way! Performing in Mexico City for a Rockabilly Festival was quite a hoot! One of the wildest times was at the Prague Burlesque Festival as the cast was a blast to share the stage with! And also the most amazing times performing with friends in Spain.
Q: Are there any burlesque performers and/or pinup models that you find influential?
A: Some fellow performers may not only be influential but also inspiring such as Egypt Blaque Knyle for her driving force to win, Sheila Starr Siani for her sex appeal, Ginger Valentine for her connection with an audience, Lola Coquette for her passion to raise awareness of the Latinx performers that are present around the world.
Q: It’s wonderful how your style embodies old Hollywood glamour! Do you have any favorite actresses from this era in cinema?
A: As mentioned in a previous response, I love Lupe Velez and of course the incomparable Maria Felix. Other classic inspiration comes from legends like Satan’s Angel, Marinka, and Kitten Natividad.
Q: So, there’s no question that the pandemic affected burlesque artists. Many turned to doing virtual shows to keep the art form thriving even in quarantine. How did you keep your burlesque spirit alive for your fans?
A: I jumped on that bandwagon and participated in virtual shows. It wasn’t easy at first as we discovered we had to become our own stage director, lighting director, sound tech, videographer, the whole package! But after a few virtual shows, it was amazing to see the creativity shine in performers’ videos! They ultimately became burlesque music videos! How brilliant! I was also able to run a virtual version of my show, Tassels & Tease, via Instagram Live for about 4-5 months. I highlighted more than burlesque as I invited male exotic dancers, aerialists, pole artists and vocalists—a true variety show with lineups you wouldn’t see anywhere else as I featured performers from all over the globe in one livestream show!
Q: Would you like to leave any teasers regarding future projects you’ve got in the works?
A: Hopefully, I’ll work on the new costuming idea and create a new act that’s been brewing for about 2-3 years! We’ll see what else the future holds but I hope it includes traveling back to Europe, headlining shows, and creating more memories with fabulous people and supporting audience.
Find out the latest on the performer at the Ruby Champagne official website.
4 thoughts on “The Burlesque Series: Introducing Ruby Champagne”
Fascinating, Jenn. Honestly, before reading your story and subsequent interview, I was unaware burlesque was a “thing” anymore. Well, consider me educated now – and tantalized!
Impressed, also. All the work, planning and skill Ruby puts into her performance truly is inspirational. Dancing only is the beginning. So many other talents must be marshalled too, which Ruby does to perfection, as you relate.
Once again, Jenn, and as always, your perceptive curiosity gives the world another layer of richness.
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I appreciate your kind words! And yes, burlesque is still thriving. I’m looking forward to attending performances once live shows are happening again here in the Los Angeles area.
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