Interview: Cherry and Ruby
‘We do it to give a draw dropping, tantalising experience.’ EVIE PRICHARD talks to Burlesque performers CHERRY AND RUBY about sequins, french knickers and nudity.
Watching Cherry and Ruby’s YouTube videos with two of the Clare Ents organisers was an education in the power of the female form, even though the two performers were only three inches high and a bit blurry on the screen.
“Oh God!” exclaimed one of the organisers, with what seemed like genuine dread mingled with unbearable anticipation, “I’m going to have to pick up their underwear from the stage when they’re finished.”
Even the prospect of speaking to one of the girls face to face seemed too much for the other. Such is the effect on the male mind, apparently, of seeing two Marie Antoinettes slowly shed their regalia until all that is left is a pair of frilly knickers and a couple of well-placed sequins.
Yes, Cherry and Ruby are burlesque performers.
I have to admit, when I first hear Ruby’s voice those sequins aren’t too far from my mind either. There’s something remarkably unsettling about talking on the phone to someone you have never met, yet whose perfect buttocks have been thoroughly discussed, and thoroughly jiggled, in front of your eyes only minutes beforehand.
Yet as soon as we begin to talk I realise that the nudity involved in her unusual hobby is far from central in her dedication to it.
Ruby describes burlesque dancing as “an every waking moment obsession,” and she’s not exaggerating. When the girls aren’t dancing they’re making their own costumes or choreographing routines.
Their love of everything vintage, coupled with a close relationship with The Junction, is what kick-started the pair’s raunchy sideline. Asked by a club promoter to become involved in the Salon Rouge club night because they were “interested and creative,” artist and film-maker Ruby and costume and set designer Cherry were launched into the world of retro sensuality from which they have yet to emerge.
But how difficult is it to overcome the lewd aspect of what they do? When they first began to dabble in burlesque, were they concerned about appearing nearly naked onstage, or was it just a side element in a much more sophisticated enterprise?
“I think it’s intrinsic,” replies Ruby. “The emphasis is on the tease and not on the strip, so there’s absolutely no way that I’d class myself as a stripper. I get really upset when people think of it in that way.
“There are some really bad circles out there which are coming from the whole pole dance thing. True burlesque is about what you don’t reveal, rather than what you do. We do it to give a jaw dropping, tantalising experience, and offer a wonderful elaborate show.”
“It’s a journey through revealing a woman’s body and how beautiful it is. It harks back to the romance of the era of vaudeville theatre where, you do have a little bit of gentle titillation, where you might show an ankle or something like that.” Of course, there will be a lot more than ankles on display in the cellars on Friday night, but I let this slide.
Ruby ends by letting me know about her new vaudeville-style production company, Cirque Elan (hopefully soon to crop up at a spate of May Balls), and her monthly burlesque and cabaret club night at Hidden Rooms, Neon Moon. One final question – glitter or sequins? “Both!” laughs Ruby, “Lots and lots. Huge quantities!”
As I hang up, Ruby’s nipple tassels are the furthest thing from my mind. I had been worried I was going to end up having to retract everything I wrote earlier this term about burlesque’s humour, intelligence and sophisticated glamour. But Ruby left me utterly reassured. Roll on Friday night!
Cherry and Ruby are performing at Clare Ents in Clare Cellars tonight, £3 before 10.30, £4 after.