Many performers find writing a burlesque bio or intro daunting – it doesn’t have to be! This is your opportunity to set the tone for your act and introduce yourself to a room full of people who may not be familiar with you, where you’re from, or what troupe you’re affiliated with.
A good burlesque bio or intro is essential for any performer; it’s not only your introduction to the audience (whether that’s on-stage or online), but a great chance to build anticipation and excitement for your performance!
One of the most frustrating things as a producer is to review a performer’s tech form and see a burlesque bio that says something like: “And our next performer is (insert performer name here).” The emcee already knows the line up, what they may not know is the story behind your act, what your tag line is, your accomplishments as a burlesque performer are, and so on.
I’m going to discuss two types of writing for burlesque:
A Burlesque Intro, primarily for an on-stage introduction
A Burlesque Bio, used on your website, in event promotion, and social media
Writing a Burlesque Intro
Not sure where to start? Here are some examples of things you can mention, some of these may not apply to you but it gives you a good jumping off point when writing your performer intro:
Where are you from?
Ex: “Our next performer hails from the Windy City!”
What is your tagline?
Ex: Take a cue from these incredible Burlesque Legends and use your a tagline:
Shannon Doah, “The Good Bad Girl”
Dee Milo, “The Venus of Dance”
Betty Rowland, “Ball of Fire”
Are you affiliated with a troupe or an independent performer?
Ex: “ Dollie is a member of Indianapolis troupe Creme de Les Femmes”
How long have you been performing?
Ex: “Bunny has been gracing stages with her unique style of burlesque for 6 years”
Are you performing in this venue / city for the first time?
Ex: “Making his New York City debut”
Have you won any awards or received any special titles?
Ex: Use a term like “multi-award winning” or you can note the specific awards “Winner of best debut at the USA City Burlesque Festival as well as the gold medal winner in the USA City Burlesque Competition”
Do you have upcoming events or opportunities for the audience to see you perform again?
Ex:“Be sure to catch his upcoming performance at the USA City Burlesque Festival in June!”
Does this particular act need any set up or back story?
Ex: Do you need to reference a movie, character, book etc for the audience to easily establish a connection between your act and your inspiration for it?
Here is an example of a burlesque intro I have used for one of my classic acts.
“Our next performer is a local Detroiter! She’s the headmistress of the Detroit School of Burlesque, produces a monthly show called Speakeasy Sundays and is a multi-award winning performer. Inspired by old Hollywood glamour and glitz, she’s known as the Strawberry Vixen and she’s here to show you why… It’s Miss Holly Hock!”
I typically try to keep my bios around 3-5 lines. You don’t need an entire paragraph but you certainly want more than just your name.
Burlesque taglines are a sort of extension of your performer name. It helps people understand your character or style a bit more. Taglines can be funny, cute, sassy…just about anything. What are you known for? what is your claim to fame?
Example: My tagline is “The Strawberry Vixen” because of my pinky-red hair color and the fact that I typically do sultry style classic acts. Even if you have never seen me perform it gives you an idea of what to expect when you hear my intro. Once you come up with your tag line do a bit of research to make sure it’s not already being used by a performer. This can usually just be done with a simple google search.
Writing a Burlesque Bio
A burlesque bio is very similar to a burlesque intro, just a bit longer and (usually) with more details and not specific to one act. A few extra points to mention in a bio would be things like:
What inspired you to begin performing?
Ex: Were you inspired by a certain time period, by horror movies, by other performers, by a particular style or music? I personally was very inspired and very influenced by old Hollywood glamour and classic burlesque of the 1940s-early 1960s so that is a part of my bio.
What are some of the events or festivals you’ve been a part of?
Ex:“Dixie has graced the stages of the USA City Burlesque Festival, the USA City Summer Revue and also performs as part of the monthly USA City Show!”
Have you toured or traveled? Are you a national or international performer?
Ex: “Kitty is an international burlesque performer, she has not only twirled her tassels across the US but also in Paris, France and London, England.”
Here is an example of the full bio I often use:
“Though she may have always had a song in her heart and a penchant for classic style, Holly’s career as a burlesque performer began in Indianapolis, guest performing with a number of local troupes. Holly also expanded her reach during this time in greater Indiana to Kentucky, Ohio and even California. Making friends across the midwest allowed her to also perform in Detroit, Michigan and she eventually moved to Detroit in 2012. There, she performed at nationally recognized events such as the Dirty Show Erotic Art Exhibition, the Michigan Burlesque Festival, Burlypicks and more. In 2016 she started producing a monthly show called Speakeasy Sundays and also opened the Detroit School of Burlesque where she currently teaches a variety of classes and workshops.
Producers may request a condensed version for promotional purposes so it’s good to have multiple versions on hand so you always have something ready.
Miss Holly Hock not only launched her own monthly burlesque revue called Speakeasy Sundays, but has won numerous awards, including Performer of the Year and Master of Tassels. She has exhibited art in the Dirty Show Erotic Art Exhibition, the Damned Show among others. She was featured in the Pretties for Pitties pinup calendar and helps produce “Titties for Pitties”, a yearly Detroit burlesque charity benefit.
In addition, she has performed along side the Theatre Bizarre Orchestra, The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Danielle Colby, Roxi D’lite, Dirty Martini, Ray Gunn, Jeez Loueez, and many many others.
Holly also founded the Detroit School of Burlesque in 2016. The DSOB promotes body positively and empowerment through the art of the tease, featuring a full 8-week curriculum and special guest instructor workshops.”
I recommend having a list of 4 or 5 go-to burlesque intros and bios with a few full and short versions of your bio saved on your computer. That way, you can tweak an existing intro or bio for a specific event rather than having to completely start from scratch. It’s your time to claim the stage, grab the audience’s attention before they even get a glimpse of you! Give them an intro that can’t be ignored!