There are many burlesque photographers in the UK but the subject of this month’s Spotlight On, Glo Mason, is widely regarded as one of the best. Her impressive collection of work includes studio portraits with some of the most well respected and loved burlesque performers both nationally and internationally, and as if that wasn’t enough, she is also adapt at beautifully capturing the magic of live performance in her images. We spoke to Glo to find out more about what drew her to burlesque as a genre and what gets her lenses steamy.
I’ve been shooting live burlesque for a few years now, and though I tend to be associated with live performances, I enjoy getting creative in the studio every bit as much. Before I started shooting burlesque, I was a nail technician/ tutor. I loved the reactions I got from clients when I transformed their bitten stumps into elegant hands that they could be proud of, but I always enjoyed the more adventurous clients the most, those who chose flamboyant and glamorous nails, and let me indulge my own creativity. However, my licence to really get creative came when I found my way onto the competition circuit of the beauty industry, where I began entering & winning photographic competitions. Over time, little by little I realised I was starting to indulge my passion for the photography more than my actual passion for nails, and so started my path towards a career change!
Despite my drift away from nails, I was still drawn towards the creative and unusual, and it was while attending a fetish fashion exhibition in London in 2006 that I stumbled on my first live burlesque performance at the show. I was totally transfixed by the stunning tight-waisted beauty, gracefully removing her sparkling attire, piece by piece, sometimes seemingly oblivious to her audience, as she ran her silken gloved hands along her diamante encrusted stocking legs, then there was a knowing glance to the audience, and I could have sworn that cheeky wink was meant for me! A toss of her head, and she was off to the other side of the stage. I’d never seen anything quite like this before and was instantly attracted to find out more about the art of Striptease … I’ve been infatuated ever since!
There are so many layers to burlesque, so many different interpretations and ways to infuse one’s own personality. I find the whole scene is just so addictive, and despite the recent media attention bringing saturation to the genre, there’s still very definitely an abundance of ’real’ talent out there.
From a photographers point of view, capturing the essence of a performer live on stage, can be a quite a challenge, often because many of the venues can be quite poorly lit – I’ve been to some smaller shows where there’s been no lighting at all! However more and more, I’m seeing shows spring up, put on by performers themselves, in increasingly in better venues, which obviously makes my job a whole lot easier as well as improving the viewing quality for the audience.
I generally work together with my partner Brian Woods, and together we call ourselves InaGlo Photography. However, I think that me being a female photographer is quite an asset to our partnership, as is being genuinely interested in the costumes – the how’s and whys, the make-up, the whole package behind a performance – means I tend to strike up a good rapport with most of the performers I come into contact with. In between the snapping, I love nothing more than to hear all the delicious details of how everything about an act came together, and could pretty much talk costumes all day!
‘My burlesque family’ is a term I often hear on the circuit. I think this comes from there being a genuine affection and camaraderie on the scene. There’s very much a feeling of ‘in this together’ and, as a lot of the shows bring performers together on a regular basis, it’s easy to see how the camaraderie turns to genuine friendship behind the scenes.
I continue to work with, and for, the gorgeous Millie Dollar on a regular basis, as well as with fellow photographer and burlesque Promoter Neil Kendall, and now consider them both good friends. We hang out quite regularly, but somehow we always end up ‘talking shop!’
Over the years, I’ve seen some truly amazing performers, and photographed some really beautiful acts but there’s so much more out there still to see. Immodesty Blaze and Dita Von Teese are obviously high on my list of photographic desires, as well as the legend that is Catherine D’Lish whom I once met when I assisted on a photo shoot with Mr Kendall. I was blown away by Catherine’s exquisite costumes, which I believe were all her own handy work. I have been incredibly lucky to shoot the stunningly beautiful Evie Lovelle who is just the sweetest most elegant lady in every sense of the word, and another talented seamstress.
Meeting and seeing some of the ‘legends’ in burlesque has to, of course, be one of the highlights for me. I saw Satan’s Angel perform a couple of years ago and she was STILL totally amazing, wowing the audience with her twirling tassels of fire, what a gal! Kitten DeVille is another long time performer who gets my pulse racing, and is a real ‘must see.’
Still on my ‘to do’ list at some point would have to be The Burlesque Hall Of Fame in Las Vegas. All those upcoming burlesque starlets and legends in one place would be burlesque heaven for someone like me. Meantime, I’m quite happy shooting the legends of tomorrow right here in the UK.
To see more of Glo’s work or to book her, visit her website