A fascinating new talk that delves into the history of the original Bluestocking society, the first female literary salon in the eighteenth century. We'll explore the trailblazing ladies behind its creation and some of its intriguing members and guest speakers, as well as looking at the legacy of the Bluestocking Society and how it has influenced British society and women's involvement in education, politics and power. 

This factual and entertaining 45 minute talk is fully illustrated.  

When I'm not speaking, I am 1/3 of cabaret trio The Bluestocking Society. For more information please see my Performer page! 

"Blazing a trail: the original Bluestockings"

"Not all feathers and fans!" The rise and fall and rise of Burlesque

Illustrated talk - 45-60 minutes

For many centuries various forms of "burlesque" have existed in performance, literature and poetry - a "burlesque" being a form of parody, pastiche or comic imitation. This illustrated talk will show the fascinating evolution of the word "burlesque" from nineteenth century theatrical burlesque - an often gently risqué mocking of well-known "highbrow" literary works - to the famed, glittering "burlesque-striptease" stars of the 1930s - 50s - Blaze Starr, Tempest Storm, Gypsy Rose Lee amongst many others. With their magnetic  charisma, incredible costumes and clever gimmicks, these iconic women are still inspiring many of the new generation of burlesque performers.

How has the meaning and usage of the term "burlesque" changed  over time? What caused the "burlesque-striptease" to lose popularity, fading into obscurity by the 1970s, and what caused its exciting revival in the late 1990s - with burlesque cabarets now massively popular once again in cities all over the world? Is the art of the burlesque-striptease still relevant in today's society? How are some performers continuing to embrace the original meaning of burlesque, and seeking to push boundaries, satirise and ask questions about what it is to be a woman in the 21st century? This 1 hour talk includes fascinating photos and video clips, as well as some optional interactive elements...

"Thank you so much Leela, just brilliant,  everyone loved it"

Avalon Ladies WI

The winner of the "Tournament of Tease" 2008 I have performed in burlesque shows and cabarets all over the UK as well as Europe and America, and have been twice shortlisted for a London Cabaret Award for Best Burlesque Performer. I bring to this talk my years of experience and a deep fascination and respect for my craft. 

"Your presentation last night was wonderful!  The way you delivered it with the variation in talk – photos – film – practical activity (!) was truly inspired and I know that everyone found burlesque most interesting.  We all had a thoroughly enjoyable evening!" 

WI feedback

"The history of Burlesque was really informative and it was so interesting to see all the photos, different personas and of course your superb performance on screen. I don’t believe any of our members were aware of the true origins of Burlesque... so thank you again for helping us create a memorable evening." 

WI feedback

I performed from 2008 to 2018 as "burlesque clown" Audacity Chutzpah in cabaret clubs and theatres all over the UK and abroad, won the coveted Tournament of Tease award and was twice short-listed for "Best Burlesque Performer" at the London Cabaret Awards. I toured the UK and Europe with the "House of Burlesque" and "An Evening of Burlesque" and created the respected Time Out Critics Choice - "Night of the Bluestockings - thinking women's burlesque cabaret"  with cabaret chanteuse Tricity Vogue. These talks have stemmed from  my love of social history (I have a degree in History), a fascination in the history and evolution of my craft, and the women who shaped it.

"...they’ll have to take the biscuit and the tin it came in to match the double-barrelled brazenness that is Audacity Chutzpah, the clown-queen of burlesque..." The Londonist