There are few people these days whom you could truly call charming. But charming is a word that fits Miss Rosie Bitts to a “t”, from her effervescent giggle to her Jackie O shades to her sense of humour and smarts.
This “starlet” from Vancouver Island took to the burlesque stage only three years ago and has already been named a “Notable Woman” by the National Post. She has a dazzling burlesque solo career, teaches burlesque and “pin-up” classes, and she even started her own production company, Best Bitts Productions.
In her clicky high heels, Rosie taps across the floor at the Superior restaurant in Victoria, her round little bum wiggling in a 1940-esque turquoise dress with a slit up to here. She tosses her long, blonde mane, positively oozing sex appeal.
My gosh, and it isn’t even martini hour yet. But that’s the real beauty of hanging out with this rising burlesque starlet — wherever she goes, whatever time it is, it’s happy hour…and I’m not talking about booze.
Miss Rosie Bitts has the kind of sweet, cheeky, sexy charisma that is equally appealing to men and women, gay and straight – and she makes you smile. But isn’t that what burlesque is: blending humor and sexiness into a a true art form that is currently enjoying a welcome resurgence.
And I’ll tell you the most delicious thing about Miss Rosie Bitts and it’s not even the reveal, which she does very nicely, thank you very much. Miss Rosie Bitts is the real thing — authentic. And that’s not easy to find in showbiz or anywhere else. So here’s what we talked about…
Kerry: How do you choose a stage name for burlesque? Are there rules?
Rosie: Hmmm, there are no rules. It’s really a labour of love. Some people mix words together, like your favourite alcohol drink and favourite sparkly thing…I didn’t begin with Rosie Bitts — she just arrived as my character started to grow. There a [burlesque] legend named Satan’s Angel and she didn’t like what she called all the “shit names” but she liked Rosie Bitts. You have to think about your name and be sure you are willing to live with it.
Kerry: How is Rosie different from your off-stage personality?
Rosie: She is much more ballsy! Slightly raucous. I would never spend as much time on hair and make-up for myself…Now I feel like it’s a responsibility to leave the house glamorous.
Kerry: What are the burlesque essentials in your closet?
Rosie: Only two things — false eyelashes and lipstick.
Kerry: If you could come back in another life, who would you want to be?
Rosie: I’m having an awfully good time as myself. I often say I’m living the best life ever.
Kerry: Pasties or pastries? What do you like more?
Rosie: Actually, I have a gluten allergy so it would have to be pasties! But I do love to eat.
Kerry: What’s the biggest myth about burlesque artists?
Rosie: The biggest myth is that we are both similar to strippers AND that we are not [similar to strippers]….We’re doing what I call an art form that many women were actually beaten for doing and arrested for doing in the past — taking off their clothes. I’m connected with a lot of the legends [of burlesque] and I consider them my foremothers. They were wild women who decided not to compromise. A lot of them were ‘out lesbians’ which wasn’t common at the time. They were unapologetic about making money with their bodies. Some of them would do 45 minute shows…and hold an audience of men and women. There’s a saying in burlesque that if the men were excited it was a good night, but if the women were excited [the burlesque dancers] were really happy.
Do you get more men or more women hitting on you since you began burlesque?
Rosie: Well, let me see, I’d have to say more women but the biggest growing group of fans is males 18-24. For some reason they seem to be interested in older women.Maybe it’s a reaction against all the nudity and sexuality in our society, and the fact that they were used to certain types of girls and body tupes, but to see a woman with a more natural body, hmmm. But I’d say my prime groupies are lesbians.
What would the movie of your life so far be called?
Rosie: I’d steal the title from Marlene Dietrich’s I Wish You Love because love is always the basics I go back to and what I bring to everyone I entertain.
Kerry: To which female celebrity would you love to teach burlesque?
Rosie: Ellen Page. She’s, like, the cutest little thing ever.
What about a male celebrity?
Rosie: Adrian Brody.
Kerry: Who is your favourite fictional heroine?
Rosie: My favourite female character (for this moment) is Hine from the short
story “Skin and Bones” in Once Upon a Time in Aotearoa by Tina Makereti.
It is the retelling of a classic “Creation” story and Hine has only a few
lines in the whole story but she won my heart by her reply to her
“creator” (a man):
“I’m Hine,” she said. “I’m so glad you figured it out. I’ve been waiting for ages.”
He was stunned.
“Aw, look at you,” she said, “you’re all skin and bones. Let’s make a feast. Time for a celebration, don’t you think?”
For some reason that little bit of dialogue just rings so true to me. Such a womanly thing to say and a beautiful, subtle way to show her
equality-she was always there-just waiting to be discovered/created in the physical form.
Kerry: Who is your favourite burlesque artist?
Kerry: What’s the hardest burlesque move to master without pulling a muscle?
Rosie: It’s not just a burlesque move but I’d say the Sidesplit in a Tango Fan dance. And backwards tassel twirls can be very touchy.
Kerry: Are you salty or sweet?
Rosie: Sweet. Hmmm. Or kinda sweet with a salty hint. I’m a broad!
Kerry: Do you remember your first time on stage as a burlesque artist?
Rosie: The first time I was on stage I wasn’t yet Miss Rosie Bitts. And it was terrifying! I felt like I had been broken in half, but in the end it was absolutely the right thing for me to do. I’m a professional actor and I learned that if you have that feeling — like being broken in half — it’s good. It’s really good. And it’s gratifying to see that people actually want to see you.
Kerry: What interests you most about life as a human?
Rosie: I’m so happy to wake up every day and be alive here, every day. I am so excited about just being here.
Miss Rosie Bitts will be performing at benefits for the Dirty Wall Project on September 19 in Victoria, BC and September 12 in Nanaimo. Stay tuned for more info.
Photos 1, 2, by Ailsa Dyson www.ailsadyson.com,
Photo 5 (feature photo) by Que Banh www.thephotographyelf.wordpress.com