Tigz Rice is a woman who has seen burlesque from both sides of the lens. Not content with making a name for herself as one of the most well respected and popular UK based burlesque photographers, she has now decided being behind the camera was not enough, and is pursuing a career as a burlesque perfomer in her own right. It seems that with Tigz all that she touches turns to gold and watch this space – 2012 is going to be her year!
Looking back on my childhood, it was obvious that I was destined to be involved in the cabaret scene one way or another. With a history of performing arts across a number of specialisms and an ever-growing collection of sparkly objects, its really hard to tell exactly where the line between life before and after burlesque is, as it was a very natural and gradual progression towards the genre. Although the word ‘burlesque’ wasn’t in my vocabulary yet, the word ‘showgirl’ definitely was. I’d get dressed up from head to toe in sequined fabric, feather headdresses and tap shoes to perform five nights a week, several times a year to a live audience of around one hundred people. I’ve always loved performing but it was never a conscious goal to do this professionally – It was something I did in my spare time that kept me smiling while I studied hard for my degree in illustration at Westminster University. By the time I graduated, corsets and stockings were featuring heavily throughout my artwork, which was also becoming more photographic in style. It was really only a matter of time before the two passions met.
A couple of months after graduation in 2009, I received a call from a university friend, whose sister had contracted a virus which left her paralysed from the waist down. He mentioned that we had quite a bit in common and would I mind keeping her company via Facebook whilst she recovered the use of her legs in the hospice. We ended up chatting regularly and to celebrate her re-found health, I traveled down to Portsmouth to see House Of Burlesque, my first ever burlesque show. Hosted by Alix Fox, the line up featured Mister Joe Black, Vicky Butterfly, Anna Fur Laxis, Dolores Delight and Beatrix Von Bourbon and I couldn’t have picked a better line up to lose my burlesque virginity to! From that night on, I knew burlesque was exactly where I belonged and started going to see more shows, taking along with me my little Canon and snapping away whenever I had the opportunity. Since that first show, I have become more involved in the burlesque world year on year, setting up Tigz Rice Studios – a London based burlesque and boudoir photography studio (www.tigzrice.com) – in December 2009 as well as taking up burlesque performing under the pseudonym of Raven Six in 2011. Between the two professions, I’ve had the privilege of working throughout the European burlesque scene, including a number of major burlesque festivals in incredible venues I could only dream of being invited to!
I don’t think there’s one specific aspect that I love most about burlesque – it’s all pretty amazing to be honest – but if I had to pick out someone I particularly admire within the burlesque community, it would be Luna Rosa. I’ve witnessed her work incredibly hard over the past few years to bring her own unique style of fresh, exciting jazz-fuelled burlesque to popularity, staying true to herself as her career has sky-rocketed. As a new performer myself, its inspiring to see performers becoming successful whilst staying true to their niches, rather than conforming to current burlesque trends in order to get more regular work straight away. Burlesque needs more people like Luna to keep it fresh and entertaining and hopefully I will follow in her footsteps with my own niche performing style.
So what does the future hold for me in burlesque? Well, there are big plans in line for Tigz Rice Studios, including a potential move further into central London and investment in more props and equipment, so I can bring more decadence and glamour to my burlesque clients. As for Raven Six – you’ll definitely be seeing more of her deliciously dark fan dancing in the next few months as she’s just been selected as a finalist at the London Burlesque Games (londonburlesquefest.com) in May.