Based in the United Kingdom, Lena Mae’s a whiz bang of a woman. Taking in influences such as Rocky Balboa and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, her burlesque shows wind their way through the halls and alleyways of the mind. Dark, colourful, candied, and even a just a little bit mad and surreal, Lena’s shows have left audiences buzzing and gasping the length and breadth of the land.
Besides her solo performances, Lena’s also the main protagonist behind the Hundred Watt Club – a hugely successful travelling performance group located in Surrey, UK.
So without further ado, say hello to Lena Mae…
How did you first get involved with Burlesque and performance?
I always had a small desperation to be some kind of performer. I did dance classes as a kid and dreamed of being in pop videos. When I got a little older I decided I’d like to become a stripper but it never really fitted with my interests or aesthetics. Then when I saw some burlesque dancers in action for the first time (they were the entertainment at a close friend’s wedding) it all fell into place, and I knew that it would be perfect for me! So I put my first act together (a kitsch sailor striptease) and put myself out there.
How do you go about creating your acts? Where do you get your ideas from?
It’s really changed over the years. At first I was interested in just looking pretty on stage, trying to evoke some kind of 1950s striptease vibe. Now I’m much more interested in following my heart; creating pieces that start as a spark that four years ago I would have probably dampened out; acts that will entertain an audience and hopefully leave them feeling some kind of emotion. Two of my routines now are based around scenes from movies I’ve seen and adored. Another is a tragic maritime shanty which pulled at my heartstrings. Saying that, I’ve kept hold of one of my showgirl acts, Dirty Boogie, because it’s just so much fun to perform! It’s my oldest act and it’s a no-nonsense rock n roll striptease; all crystals, feathers and glitter. It’s just fun; a celebration of the female form. Well, mine!
Which of your acts do you enjoy doing the most? And which performances stand out as your favourites?
That’s a toughy, because it changes so often. I love performing my shanty act The Thin White Bones because it boots me right out of my comfort zone. It’s a little sad, dark and I have to sing it live(gasp)! And my Rocky Balboa routine is exhilarating because it’s so boisterous and ugly. It seems to get quite a lot of laughs, which I wasn’t expecting when I put it together, but which I enjoy. I’m working on a couple of new pieces for 2015 – let’s see if they get there up top!
How does it feel to be up on stage during your performances?
Mostly it’s one of the best feelings in the world. It’s intoxicating, I feel powerful, I love so much to see the faces in the crowd smiling at me or shocked at me and just enjoying the experience. I love it. Of course there are times every now and then when, like any other artist, you question yourself and wonder if you deserve to be there. But the great feeling shows outweigh the dicey ones by about 10/1 – so we’re alright!
How did the Hundred Watt Club start?
A local venue approached me a few years back knowing I was a burlesque artist and asked if I’d be interested in organising a show for them. I said yes and it grew from there. I now produce Hundred Watt Club shows in lots of different venues across Surrey/Hampshire and also Brighton and Newcastle upon Tyne!
What kind of acts do you have at the Hundred Watt Club?
Hundred Watt Club is a good old fashioned variety show, so we showcase burlesque acts, boylesque, musicians, comedy, circus, sideshow, a little of everything! I book acts who I’ve seen myself and enjoyed their performances. I also put out casting calls to find talent I otherwise might not have heard of involved. Each show has a different line-up, but some faces do return for multiple shows they are that loved by audiences!
What plans have you got for the future for both the club and your own performances?
For Hundred Watt Club: More cities, more venues, more shows, more acts please!
For myself: I’m going to keep pushing my own boundaries, try and learn some new skill sets and hopefully keep entertaining!
Look out for further coverage of Lena Mae and the Hundred Watt Club in the coming weeks.