Imogen Kelly Herstory - Leading Ladies Interview

Imogen Kelly Herstory - Leading Ladies Interview

Australia's Queen of Burlesque

Australia's Queen of Burlesque, Imogen Kelly, is bringing her hit sexual satire, Herstory – Leading Ladies, to The Factory Theatre for two nights only on June 14th and 15th.

In Herstory, Kelly embodies the world's most famous leading femmes. They led armies and caused revolutions, were politically blackballed, or had lifestyles so debauched that empires tumbled in their wake.

Not for the faint-of-heart, Herstory is a sexy hour of raunch that features everything from Marie Antoinette desecrating a cake and Lady Diana attacking London, King Kong-style, to a dope addicted Queen Victoria and a very pissed off Julia Gillard.

Kelly provokes questions about feminism, the media's portrayal of women and society's ability to demonise people using comedy, strip tease, saucy stories, dance, aerials, magic and puppetry.

Kelly said, "After finding the rumours that circulated about women in power so ridiculous, I decided to make a show ridiculing the ridicule itself! My style is fun and sexy, but with a strong and empowering message as it seems the ridicule continues in today's world."

Herstory – Leading Ladies
14th to 15th June 2019
The Factory Theatre – 105 Victoria Road, Marrickville or (02) 9550 3666
Adult $28 | Student $25
Herstory contains nudity. Attendance is restricted to those aged 18+.

Interview with Imogen Kelly

Question: How would you describe your show Herstory - Leading Ladies?

Imogen Kelly: Herstory is a comedic look at how women in positions of power have to suffer the ridiculous rumour mill. Herstory ridicules the ridicule. I play out the rumours onstage, as it's described in history books but I play it out to the extreme. There's everything from Marie Antoinette desecrating a cake by doing the splits in it to Catherine The Great giving a blow-by-blow recreation of how to die whilst trying to fornicate with a horse.

Question: What inspired you to take on these famous leading femmes?

Imogen Kelly: I love these women, although I'll admit some of them have been harder to love than others. In truth, I love to read about the various attempts made to sabotage their authority by undermining them sexually or trying to humiliate them with insults but, most of all, I love how these women prevailed. Well, not all of them did, but there is the humanity of the show. Lady Diana never did get the final word for instance but if she did, one wonders what she would have to say.

Question: Which particular famous faces does the show feature?

Imogen Kelly: This version of the show starts with Queen Victoria and moves through to feature Catherine the Great, Marie Antoinette, Margaret Thatcher, Joan of Arc, Julia Gillard and Lady Diana.

Question: Is there a message you hope audiences take from Herstory?

Imogen Kelly: Absolutely! Mostly I love that people go away with huge smiles on their faces. The main thing is that people enjoy themselves as it's a hilarious show; the undercurrent is, of course, that we should question the maltreatment of our female political leaders due to their gender. Our gender does not make women 'weaker' by any means. Each of these women faced adversity, they were some of the greatest leaders - and some of the most monstrous figures, the western world has ever seen - and yet each and every one of them had to manage their public image in a way that male leaders do not have to. I like people to think about that.

Question: You are a breast cancer awareness campaigner and in the past you've run Burlesque workshops for breast cancer survivors. Can you tell us a little about how you came up with the idea of running burlesque workshops for these women?

Imogen Kelly: The idea for this was from watching the women in my family suffer, and the various ways we have each come up with to combat our subsequent depression and our changed bodies. Burlesque is about loving your body, scars and all. In going into hospitals and teaching burlesque I found a way to help combat my own feelings of hopelessness and help others just simply forget their problems for a few hours. It also helps women at all different stages of their healing meet and make new friends.

Question: In your opinion, how does burlesque empower women?

Imogen Kelly: I would like to think so, but it depends on who you watch. Burlesque does put women in the driver's seat of their own sexual representation. So when you are watching a good burlesque artist, you are watching someone who has managed to drown out the critical voices of our society so she can define herself on her terms. I also love my burlesque with wit, humour and satire.

Question: What's next for you?

Imogen Kelly: At the moment I am in Las Vegas at The Burlesque Hall of Fame, so what is next for me is to return home and do this show! After that I will continue to work on Dark Matter and continue writing my book. I'm also starting a protest called PWR SWTCH. We launch in coming days. Check it out.

Interview by Brooke Hunter