INTERVIEW - Khandie Khisses, Burlesque Queen.  1

INTERVIEW – Khandie Khisses, Burlesque Queen.

Dubbed ‘Queen of Burlesque’ by numerous publications and voted regularly into the Top Stars of Burlesque in World (2009, 2010 , 2011 and 2012 consecutively), Khandie Khisses is the unstoppable tornado whose talents far exceed that of her burlesque skills. She is already an accomplished DJ, MC and model, but more recently completed her first major film role. A true superstar in the making whose global reputation as a highly professional and talented artiste is building rapidly.
Previously serving in the Royal Air Force, Khandie’s ability to captivate audiences with her riotous and spectacular routines has drawn a following worldwide as her reputation continues to sky rocket. Appearances by invitation at the Australian Burlesque (and subsequent 12 day tour), Paris Burlesque and British Science Festivals, not to mention numerous show stopping, audience captivating performances cross the globe, have seen her step out from the ranks and cement her place in the limelight.
A confident speaker Khandie has been asked to speak about her profession and lifestyle by invitation for a variety of audiences such as the WI, BBC radio and East Side Radio in Australia. Her regular columns for various publications have been referenced and shared world wide. She also regularly contributes to 21st Century Burlesque,, as well as being the UK correspondent for Pinup America with regular guest spots on their live TV show.
Khandie challenges media stereotypes with her voluptuous figure and sparkling smile, making her an asset to any stage and the words on everybody’s lips.
Khandie is both Equity registered and agency represented by Spirit Model Management and Burlesque Baby.

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How is the world of Burlesque these days? Is it thriving?
It seems to be going mental. Every town I go to either has a show or classes running. Whilst on the surface that is amazing, people are sometimes being charged to watch shows that perhaps lack substance or somewhat miss the mark on burlesque. Often people believe burlesque is simply removing a basque to some jazz tune when it isn’t. The huge influx of shows is both productive and counterproductive to burlesque and whether it manages to stay in the mainstream. People can sometimes be bored of something if it is thrust down their necks constantly. Today alone I was invited for 5 burlesque events via social networking. I ended up ignoring them all and logging off.

Before you became a burlesque star, you were in the military…that’s quite a career change! What inspired you to make such a huge change?
I was in the RAF but sadly left due to injury amongst other things. Whilst I was in the forces I did do some stand-up comedy and the occasional ‘funny woman dancing’ skit that proved most popular. When I finally left the forces, I no longer wanted to be confined by the strict regimented rules so decided to go down the comedy route. This eventually led me to burlesque. Whilst some of my former colleagues applaud what I have done and do, most don’t realise. I am not about to force my success down their throats etc. Even those who doubted me.

Many people still see burlesque as just ‘stripping’. For those who may not fully understand the difference, please give me your definition of what Burlesque ACTUALLY is?
Essentially burlesque means to parody or to make fun or so it is understandable why some don’t full understand it. With many people believing it is removing garments to a show tune and media not always delving deeper it is hard to change people’s perceptions. For me burlesque is now more an ‘umbrella’ term to cover all sorts of art forms within cabaret and beyond that involving some stripping (but not always), comedy and a sense of sass. From the 60s bump n grind numbers to the more theatrical workings burlesque is hard to define but ultimately it should be entertaining, confident and unapologetic.

How do you think burlesque empowers women?
Empowerment is often a word used when selling burlesque to women…to be honest any performance can be empowering. I think women have perhaps realised that within burlesque there is no cookie cutter shape or size to the performers. We can be any size, gender, nationality etc and still be a burlesque performer. I think this appeals to women more when so often dress size and looks are criticized so openly.

How did you come up with your name Khandie Khisses, and how did you create your persona?
Khandie Khisses came about after I had been called Morning Glory for a few months. The name never sat right and seemed too vulgar in some areas of work. I sat and thought about it for months and in the end (rather crassly) asked my fellow performers to help name me. Hence Khandie Khisses…the name came from a social network user called ‘Broomstick Pilot’. I love it and the spelling despite the issues it can cause. My persona is just me as I am but amplified and unleashed.

You quite often refer to yourself as ‘plus size’ and have been featured in such publications as Slink Magazine. Do you think the trend is changing for women to be more curvaceous [in burlesque or otherwise], and most importantly just to be their natural, healthy size?
I think burlesque has had a part in helping women to accept their sizes more, but also with the age of the internet coming into its own we have access to more images of women for us to see not all are a certain size/shape. It helps with the acceptance of our bodies. The media seem to be slowly waking up to the plus size shape but I also feel they should not neglect our slimmer sisters who get just as much, if not more flack for their slender shapes.

Who were/are your inspirations in the business?
Dirty Martini and Kitten DeVille constantly inspire me. I have had the pleasure of performing with Kitten and I was utterly speechless to meet her. I also admire the work of Lillian Starr and Perle Noir who single handledly have blown me away on a number of occasions. I will never forget Lillian and her cherry pie/rolling pin strap on performance in Tasmania that stunned the audience to silence. Different burlesque performers inspire me in different ways every day. Whilst I never want to be them, I would love to pick their brains. So many great men and women work in this industry, it would be impossible to name them all.

You have been in the top 50 Burlesque Stars list 4 years running, how long does it take to reach that kind of calibre as a performer?I have no idea. Each time I am nominated I am blown away. I think if you work hard, look after others and create acts that push the industry on then people will recognise you. There is so much you can do in burlesque to improve it and take it to the next step.

Last year you were in the great Alan Moore/ Mitch Jenkins film ‘Jimmy’s End? How did you get involved in that?
I worked with Mitch and Alan before when we shot the front cover of the Dodgem Logic magazine some years ago. Then randomly out of the blue I was sent this script. I could hardly say no. Admittedly I had no idea who Alan Moore was. I just liked the idea of shooting a short film. I loved it and have to say I can’t wait to do more!

You have just filmed a ‘Hurts’ music video…how did it go, and when will it be out?I am not sure what I can or can’t say as I did sign a non-disclosure form. Needless to say it will be awesome. There were some amazing visuals in the video and I get to do something VERY cool.

What advice would you give a woman wanting to get in the industry, I understand that you run your own workshops, is that a good start?
RESEARCH! Know what is out there, who is out there and what there is coming. Go see shows too. Workshops are a good starting point to learn the basics but remember no workshop will make you a star. Hard work and dedication will help you but being unique is the way to impress. No one wants to see the same act done over and over with the only thing different is the performer doing it.

Finally, where and when can people see you perform?
Best to check my site calendar as it is always being updated. Failing that watch out for special pop up performance announcements on my facebook page


Photo Credits
Featured Image and Zebra Image – Haley Richardson Photography
Glasses Photo – Nils Bratby.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.