I wish I could remember the day I first met Chastity Belt because, knowing her, I reckon it would be an absolute corker of a story! Nevertheless, at some point during a decade of burlesque photographer life, this absolute powerhouse of a human and I happened to cross paths and I’ve been a firm follower of her ever since, watching her shine on the West End stage as well as tearing up some of the UKs best cabaret clubs. Bringing her signature brand of killer vocals combined with a razor sharp wit, it comes as no surprise that she’s one of the UK’s most sought-after cabaret compéres. It’s been a couple of years since our shoot and I wasn’t doing this interview series back then, but thats no excuse for not showcasing exquisite talent, so I delved into the archives and checked in with Chastity Belt and find out more about the inspiration behind this shoot…
Occupation: Cabaret Host, MC, Chanteuse
How would your best friend describe you? We’re currently sharing an office, so I’ve fielded this one out to her. “Funny, witty, always there. A good rational outlook on stuff. Sometimes a silly b*stard 😉 “ – I’ll take that.
Name three things that you always carry with you? A decent lipstick, antihistamines and a healthy dose of British awkwardness.
What was the last book you read? ‘Flappers: Six women of a dangerous generation’. Which is a forensic look at six famous women of the ‘20s. I love it. It’s a real insight into the period. I was reading it in prep for a top secret project that was postponed due to Covid, so I’ve got everything crossed it comes back!
Do you remember how you originally found me? OOH, that’s a question. I actually can’t remember when we first met. I think it was through mutual friends and backstage at shows. I feel like I’ve known you forever because I’m always admiring your photos.
What inspired you to book a photoshoot? I had admired the soft but powerful nature of your images for a long time, and that was a particular Feel that I wanted to go for. The venue was very special to me, so I wanted someone who understood how important that was and would do the building justice.
Who would play Chastity Belt in a movie of your life? I think about this all the time. Currently, I want Lizzo to play me. I think she could embody everything I’d like to be, and make an incredible soundtrack! Though she’s far cooler than I am!
Whats the most interesting thing about you that the internet doesn’t know about you yet? I have a dark and nerdy past! I was an Air Cadet as a teenager and spent lots of time on assault courses, flying planes and rifle shooting. I was a particularly good markswoman and came first in the UK once. I got into it because it was an organisation full of boys in uniform, and then it became a huge part of my life. It was responsible for the confidence I have now, that’s for sure. It’s also left me with a hefty love for military inspired costumes.
Tell us about one of the outfits you wore for your shoot – why do you love it? My black and Gold dress is such a favourite. I love re-using older pieces/fabrics and try to keep my costumes one-off and this ticks both those boxes. I had a 50s style bandeau cocktail dress in a thick curtain fabric, which was far too big and too fancy for most social occasions. I never wore it, so I took it to be impeccable Katy Adeney. with a few ideas that involved waspie corsets, sashes and something that would need a crown to top it off. This is what came back. She completely deconstructed it and created something which blew my lid off. When I first put it on, I cried. It made me feel so powerful and feminine.
Interestingly, I didn’t wear it onstage for a while. It was as though Katy had designed the next incarnation of Chastity that I didn’t know about just yet. It gave my brand a whole new direction. So, I got to work, wrote a lot of new material, waited for the right show, found a couple of new songs to fit it, upgraded the crown from the images we have and now it’s one of my main looks. She also managed to design something which doesn’t need a bra, which for a voluptuous person is SORCERY.
Describe your shoot experience? It was in the theatre where I made my West End debut so I was doubly excited. It was a venue in which I had recently spent 5 months, so I felt very comfortable there, which really helped. It was the first time I had commissioned a shoot myself. I used to be quite nervous about having my picture taken, but you turned this all around. You made me feel like I was good at it and took my ideas and suggested ways to make them really brill. It went by in such a blur, but I had a real blast.
What song gets you on the dancefloor? Oh my word. So many. I have terrible taste when it comes to a disco. Do the kids still call it a Disco? It’s basic as hell, but Mr. Brightside by The Killers will always have me losing my mind.
What are you most proud of in your career so far? I try to measure my success in lots of different ways, so there’ve been many moments that I’m proud of, both small and large. But a highlight was definitely last year, when I was asked to MC a private show in Manchester where Dita Von Teese was performing. I got to introduce her twice and I honestly could’ve fainted. The pressure was intense but it was a wild night.
What is your top body confidence tip? The day that I realised most people are so concerned with their own bodies that yours doesn’t even register to them, felt powerful. It comes with age, but learning to dress in what makes you feel good is key, regardless of trend. If you feel good, you’ll look good. I also think about the people I love most in the world, and I don’t think about their bodies, our bodies are usually the least interesting thing about us. I’d much rather fret about being a decent human.
What will your autobiography be called? The Bible By Belt; ‘How to not be a dick’. I would be distributing MANY copies, starting with myself!
If you could be a model for any brand, which brand would it be and why? I’m absolutely in love with Playful Promises. They were covering diversity before it became a buzzword, and their inclusivity of all types of people absolutely rocks. I have many of their sets at home, and it’s all so well made. I’d be honoured to represent a brand like that. I think it would take a stiff gin to get me down to my scanties but their lingerie would be totally worth it.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about booking a session of their own? In simple terms. Just go for it. It’s so much more than images you’re paying for. It’s an act of self love. If you’re a non-performer you’ll have such a great time, you’ll feel differently about yourself and your abilities afterwards, along with some corking shots. If you’re a performer or business owner… it will elevate your brand to the next stage. DO IT.
What exciting project are you working on right now? I’m about to announce a brand new arm of my business, covering onstage coaching. So if you’re a seasoned performer or just starting out in the business, keep an eye on my profiles for the big announcement. I’ll be providing one on one coaching sessions to make your acts the best they can be. Pouring nearly 20 years of Theatrical knowledge, training and experience into you and your acts!
Want to treat yourself to an act of self love like Chastity Belt? Book your very own burlesque branding shoot with me today – explore my boudoir and boudoir photography offerings and then email me with any preferred dates. I can’t wait to hear from you!