Burlesque Beauty & Cabaret Queen, Miss Polly Rae: Pt 2
By Anna Robb
In the second part of our TheatreArtLife interview with Miss Polly Rae, Polly shares with us what she is doing today after 10 years of being in the Burlesque scene and following the success of her West End show.
You’ve got a new job running a dance troupe, what’s that about?
I’ll give you a bit of background first. I work at the Hippodrome, London and the Hippodrome is probably one of the most iconic entertainment venues in the UK. It opened in 1900 and it was a spectacular venue that housed the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Judy Garland, productions of the Folies Bergère and so on and so forth. The venue has evolved through the years. It was a hippodrome/circus style venue and then it became something called The Talk of The Town which was again an entertainment venue. It then became a nightclub and it’s latest evolution is a casino. So, it’s the closest equivalent to a Vegas casino in the UK.
I began working at the Hippodrome in 2013 when the casino was first created. With the casino came a theatre and a restaurant; it became this whole big establishment. I started working there with my own show, which is still there now, called The Soho Burlesque Club. I’m there every Saturday with a Burlesque variety show.
About three years ago, the Hippodrome opened a venue called LoLa’s Underground Casino in the basement of the building. It’s a gaming room designed like a sort of 1900’s under-the-stage spot where the staff hang out and have parties. It’s really fabulous. There are beautiful costumes hanging on the wall, very 1900’s era, and in the center of the room is basically a dance cage. In a way, it’s kind of like the pleasure pits in Vegas – y’know when you go to Vegas and you go into Planet Hollywood and they have girls dancing – but just in a general gaming space. So that’s where the concept derived from but it’s more like a big tiger cage. So, you’ve got girls in the cage and then there’s a stage not far from that.
Basically, over the past three years, I started the venue and then I started focusing on my solo career. I’ve come back in now because we’re looking at making it into more of a theatrical entertainment space rather than just the dancers in the cage.
Cabaret is huge in London and there’s so much potential for this venue to become more of a tourist attraction and more of a cabaret theatre space combined with the gaming rather than just the girl in the cage being the centerpiece; actually making a thing of the entertainment in the room. That’s basically what I do – I make Cabaret shows. So they brought me back to manage a troupe of girls along with my business partner, Jeanette Taylor. The two of us are basically revamping this awesome venue which is just really cool.
And for me, having been a performer for the past ten years, to have a job where I don’t put makeup on and don’t have to get into costume and I can actually do the organization, creative styling, and just be a manager at this stage in my career, is great.
It’s really cool to have more of a proper job (laughs) if you can call it that.
Do you still perform from time to time?
Yes, performing is my passion and I’ve been a performer for 10 years so now I’m doing both performing and managing. I will keep my show on Saturday night at the Hippodrome.
I teach burlesque as well and I actually host cabarets more than I do burlesque now. I’m a singer, a host and I have a circuit in London that I work. There are a lot of corporate events and parties that I work in as well.
I also have my own show called Between the Sheets. You might have heard of Underbelly; Underbelly have a thing in London called the London Wonderground. Every summer I have my own show there which is just really nice.
How do you manage life with such a busy schedule?
I don’t know how I’m managing to juggle it but I love it. I love it! It’s the nature of being self-employed; you don’t want to say no to anything. Every opportunity in our industry is different and that’s what I love about it, no two jobs are the same. When you book on a show or a tour or a project or whatever, there’s so much variety. Everything gets you something different.