I was at a masked party one evening in Paris when Marie Antoinette showed up in nothing but her underwear, albeit very pretty underwear indeed. She prowled sumptuously about the room until she found a stage and proceeded to perform the most hypnotising dance with two giant feather fans. Who is that woman behind the feathers? What is her story? I wondered. And then she was gone. The following morning, by chance, someone commented on a photograph I’d posted of her. “That’s Sucre d’Orge!”. And that is how I came to interview a Parisian burlesque dancer…
How did your burlesque name come about?
People use to call me Sucre, Sucrette or sometimes Mlle d’Orge. It means barley sugar, or candy cane. I chose it years ago, while putting down on paper a lot of possible stage names. I liked the sweetness of that one and its aristocratic twist of d’Orge, the “de” indicating nobility.
Where is the most likely place to find you performing on an average night in Paris?
For more then a year now I perform almost each month on a lovely Parisian peniche (houseboat) called La Nouvelle Seine with the Cabaret Burlesque. It is a very charming place and the show is fun. I also do a lot of private parties or corporate events but I’ve been dancing almost all my life. Ballet when I was a child, musicals when I was a teenager and Argentinian tango for more than 10 years now. Tango is a unique way, and maybe the best one, to learn how to walk and dance in high heels!
Is your audience mostly male or female? What would you say is their most common reaction?
There are a lot of women attending burlesque shows, but men love it too. I think they may react quite the same way. Maybe men are more shy and they don’t dare come to talk to me after the show, while women do and often ask “where did you buy your costume?”, “how and where did you start?”, “is it your “real” job?” etc.
Where is the most spectacular/ strangest place you’ve performed?
No doubt I will remember forever the two nights I performed at the Chateau de Versailles, at the Orangerie for the grand masked ball. It was amazing to be there, in my Marie-Antoinette outfit, in the very heart of royal French history. But the strangest one is maybe the smoking room of the Silencio Club in Paris. I was dancing behind a window at the back of the room, but I couldn’t see the people inside the room (the glass is strange), I could only hear them talking about me. I was like a fish, it was weird and I kind of enjoyed it.
Do you have a special party trick?
Feather fan dances are my thing! I made it my specialty. I love to extend my body with these too huge and soft fans. I show a little while I hide another part of my body, it’s a game and everybody wins!
Your costumes are amazing. Do you have an Aladdin’s cave in Paris to find them?
Most of my costumes are custom made, I work a lot with the Parisian atelier of François Tamarin who makes all my corsets. Otherwise, I like to go to the Flea market in Saint Ouen, I often fall in love with pieces there and end up using them for burlesque show.
Sucre d’Orge at Le Carmen
Where does an off-duty burlesque dancer eat breakfast in Paris? Or take a romantic date? Enjoy an evening out with girlfriends?
I like to go to beautiful places like Le China Club for brunch and Le Carmen for cocktails (where I’ve also danced). On a nice day, at the top of a staircase in Montmartre, there’s a charming terrace café with a view called L’Eté en Pente Douce and I’ll often meet my costume maker nearby at La Halle Saint Pierre for tea.
Inside Sucre d’Orge’s living room (c) Stella Polaris
For a romantic date I like to stay at home, I managed to made my own place a love capsule! You can take a tour of it here.
Favourite place to go lingerie shopping for yourself?
I love Fifi Chachnill lingerie and I also found this new shop in Montmartre called “Licence Noire” (7 Rue Ravignan, 75018 Paris), there are some of the most exquisite black lingerie you can find in town!
Can you tell me a beauty secret that only a burlesque dancer would know?
Well… Pasties should NEVER be placed where the nipples are. They should be placed a bit higher up there to give the impression that tits are more pert!
But that’s not a tip you can use in everyday life. Something more useful: if you like wearing stockings and a garter belt, don’t forget to put your underwear over it and not under it, or you will have some trouble if you have to get them off quickly if you know what I mean!
Could you recommend where to take a burlesque class in Paris?
As a burlesque dancer, do you find the Moulin Rouge incredibly cliché? Where would you advise someone to go see a great dance show in Paris?
To be honest, I have never been even been to the Moulin Rouge, but I’m not sure I’d recommend it anyway, it’s just too touristy. But I love the Crazy Horse and that I will recommend! And if you want to see a great dance show, you definitly have to go to Paris Opéra (Bastille or Garnier). I go there a lot and it is an endless source of inspiration to me. These dancers are wonderful and that is pure art!
What else inspires your own burlesque performances?
For creating a new act, I can be inspired by anything : a painting, a movie, music, a person, a book. I often dream of Mata Hari (pictured below) or of the “Grandes horizontales” like Liane de Pougy.
They made art and beauty a way of life, mixing all their knowledge together to create something thrilling and exciting. But what drives me on stage is the strange feeling that I have something to give to the audience that is close to magic, that will suspend time and make them dream.