A few months ago I bumped into a form of Show that I didn’t know very well: The Burlesque. I will not tire you with his historical origins that you can find in any Encyclopedia or book on the History of Theater, but I would like to address this subject from the perspective of those who choose to live in this world. Because the Burlesque is a world parallel to ours, where imagination finds its maximum expression and freedom. It is like entering in a time machine and being thrown in the past. It is a way of being, a lifestyle… and Rita Lynch and Giuditta Sin, Burlesque performers whom I met during the rehearsal of “Ultimo Spettacolo: La Rivoluzione del Burlesque”, are an example of how to propose with extreme elegance an artistic world that is out of time.
Rita Lynch and the Elegance of the ‘40s
Model, actress, singer and Burlesque performer. In 2011 she was one of the protagonists of Lady Burlesque, first talent show dedicated to this genre, and in 2012 she was awarded “Best Overall” at the Dublin Burlesque Festival. In 2013, she collaborated in the creation of Dr. Sketchy’s Rome, the new Italian section of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School of New York. Since February 2014, she is the artistic director of the Milan section.
B: How your artistic background weighed on the creation of the Rita Lynch character?
R: My artistic background is Rita Lynch, that’s all. Everything has melted in Rita Lynch. Because if I hadn’t had a theatrical background, a photographic one as a model and, why not? If I hadn’t had a background as a singer, Rita Lynch wouldn’t have been born. The Burlesque brings together all my passions. I love being on stage, I couldn’t be anywhere else than a stage, I feel at home. I can be what I want to be, because in every day’s life we are forced to follow schemes, but on stage we choose what we can and want to do. And Burlesque has meant choosing, completely, what I wanted to be. As an actress, you always have a director telling you what to do; you have a script to follow. In Burlesque, you create the character and everything around him or her: you’re author, director, stage director, gaffer, sound technician... You create your own show.
B: You get your inspiration from the sophisticated Hollywood of the ‘40s and from the Pin-ups of the ’50s. Two images of women very different between them, I dare say almost opposite. How do you manage, during your shows, to combine these two aspects?
R: I began my career as a Pin-Up model and it has been the first thing that I took on stage, since I come from that world. At that time I couldn’t have done anything else in my life, but I have always been passionate about Hollywood’s golden years and the movies of that period. It is an epoch that I have always considered my point of reference, especially its women, like Marlene Dietrich, who was a superb woman and actress. She let the director guide her on stage, but she would always remain herself, she was herself, you couldn’t see nobody else but her in that role.
Rita Lynch is a character, and as a person has her very complex “personality”. You can’t be one thing on stage and like in every day’s life, you can’t be always smiling, sensual, ironic.., we must pick all the nuances of the human soul. Why shouldn’t do it a character drawn on a board? It is a character that, however, is yours, and as such it captures all the nuances you have inside. So what I wanted to do was to give Rita Lynch many faces. I really want to stress this, because in Burlesque there’s a lot of talk about teasing, and the first thing you think is seduction, but it’s not only that. Yes, it is seduction, but it is also a play, a joke... It’s teasing. Teasing is inherent in every character you take on stage, and every time is different. It can be a disarming smile, a look, or a move.
B: How did you begin your Burlesque career?
R: I started for kicks and I found myself projected into a world that I didn’t know… To me, Burlesque was what I had seen on TV, and coming from modeling as a Pin-Up, I knew Dita Von Teese, she would intrigue me a lot, I too wanted to live another life. I always thought I was living in the wrong epoch. So I began going back in time. First, the ‘80s, then the ‘70s, the ‘60s and eventually, at the end of the ‘50-‘40s, I felt a shot in the arm and I knew I was feeling good there. I had found my epoch.
B: Before, you said “a character drawn on a board”. What do you mean by that?
R: Being projected into Burlesque was like receiving loads of emotions at once, you get mixed up. Then, you begin to have doubts, fears…, I decided to stop for a second and think about who I was. I did what you do in theater: I worked on the character. Actually, my drawing board has been the board of my mind, because everything clicks inside. It’s a lot of micro-thoughts that come one after another and make you realize that you always knew who you wanted to be. I wanted Rita to be the alter ego of Benedetta, because she lives a parallel life that it’s mine, but when she’s on stage she’s an explosion.
B: How do you choose your stage costumes?
R: My stage costumes are a sort of childbirth. I think them in my mind… I’m lucky I found my soul mate, my current costume designer, a great cutter of a famous theater dressmaker in Rome. He reads my mind and knows what I want far before I can put it into words; I don’t know how he does it… My Style is basically that between the late ‘40s and the early ‘50s. As accessories, I love what shines and sparkles, I like to leave those before me speechless.
B: In “Ultimo Spettacolo” you play the “Muse” with Giuditta Sin. How did you “dress” this character?
R: I play my character in my own personal way because I like to contextualize what I’m doing. My two Acts are performed in two moments that are special to the protagonist. The first is a classic of Burlesque: the Fans. Through this, I wanted to transmit a hymn to the elegance of the gesture, of the movement, of the look, since the protagonist finds himself before a Burlesque show for the first time. The second instead, which I called like Stanley Kubrick’s movie, “Eyes Wide Shut”, takes place in a moment when the protagonist is living a personal crisis because he can no longer see the woman he loved in what she is. “Eyes Wide Shut” is the change. A woman who lives a delicate life and then turns out to be exactly the opposite. In this Act, the difficulty has been to communicate an initial sweetness and then… the breakup. It is as if, very coarsely, we would move from love to sex, using the person before us and no longer “living” him/her.
B: Well, I guess that’s all…, I leave it to our readers to discover the rest…. Thank you, Rita.
R: Thank you.
Giuditta Sin, the “Muse”
A dancer since she was five years old. A deep passion that was born with ballet and that during the years grew and changed into a very peculiar path, that of the Teatro Danza and of the Dance of Darkness, to end in 2010 with the Burlesque. She entered the Academy of the Micca Club in Rome and since 2011 she is a Resident Cast member of the Velvet Cabaret. In May 2012, she took part in the Milan Burlesque Award and in September of the same year she participates in the 10th edition of the New York Burlesque Festival.
B: The atmospheres from which you draw your inspiration are those of the late 20th Century literature, of the symbolist and decadent schools. As for dance, Isadora Duncan is one of your main points of reference. How do you transmit all these elements in your performances?
G: I do it through aesthetics, trying to recreate through my costumes, my body and the work I do on it, including the quality of movement, atmospheres that can be immediately associated with those settings. As I said, it is mainly an aesthetic and concurrently bodily work. In my performances, I always try to keep ambivalence between ethereal and classic physical presence.
B: A rather personal interpretation of Burlesque that is a little off the traditional popular image?
G: Yes. Actually, we are very few with this sort of style. What makes me close to Burlesque is the aspect related to eroticism, to femininity and to the expression of feminine sensuality at the top of its power. The settings and atmospheres that I create must transmit a fantasy, a dream where the spectator feels dragged into a totally different dimension. This is what I try to do in absolute.
B: So, we could say that Burlesque is the means?
G: Yes, let’s say that at the start, when I thought about this type of performance by studying it, I discovered that the elements of nudity, eroticism and sensuality were present also in Burlesque. So I decided to work in this field, although I wouldn’t call Burlesque my performances in the classic sense of the word, on the contrary, I’d say that they are much closer to the Tableaux Vivants or to a certain type of Body Art. I never wanted to define myself. I do what comes to me naturally. Then, I was lucky to work in this world that today is, however, open and contaminated by thousands of different influences. We no longer have the classic Burlesque tied to the image of the Pin-up or of the femme fatale. Everyone is free to express him/herself as he/she wishes.
B: Would you call yourself an esthete?
G: In my own way, yes, even though I have never been a faithful fan of any school. I like to take things from different sources and work on them. However, I feel close to the esthetic and decadent schools and to all that unconscious that I then use in my shows.
When I perform, during my shows, I am not interested in provoking or shocking the spectator, but in recreating a moment of beauty. I have always believed that in our time there’s a need for beauty. As you see, eventually, I can’t say I’m not...
B: How do you choose your stage costumes?
G: The choice of my stage costumes always starts from paintings. They are my main source of inspiration. At times it’s enough the atmosphere I breathe or a color that strikes me in a certain painting. My research starts from there. Photos too are very helpful, especially photos of women and their view of the women’s world.
B: In “Ultimo Spettacolo” you play the “Muse”. A role absolutely perfect for you?
G: Yes, perfect. I hope it’s not only a role that I play in “Ultimo Spettacolo”. I like to think to be able to live like a Muse. The border between what I do and my way of being is really thin. What I do gives me an excuse to be myself and disregard all the rest.
B: So, is Giuditta Sin a Muse?
G: Yes. Now, I don’t want to sound presumptuous, but it happened several times to me to be important for some people, and help them reach their objectives or take important decisions, or I have simply been a source of inspiration. In general, I believe I can play this “role” in life because I always had the courage to make choices that I felt I had to make. So, so far I have always tried to live a brave life, honest and sincere with myself. This is an important example that many people need today; so, from this point of view, I feel very lucky.
B: Thank you, Giuditta. When Floz will need a Muse, we know who to turn to!
G: Thank you.
 “ Ultimo Spettacolo: La Rivoluzione del Burlesque” (The Last Show: the Revolution of Burlesque) is directed by Cristiano Gazzarini and written by Enrico Savini. First of a kind, it is a noir burlesque-show with a vintage atmosphere that mixes the burlesque performance with the story narrated by the protagonist.
B.O. ©Floz Visions 2015