I still remember, as if it were yesterday, the day I discovered MisSa Blue at the infamous East London venue, Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club. It was the very first cabaret show I attended that pulled away from the mainstream lineup of classical striptease and lighthearted variety; exploring the grittier, less swarovski-bejewelled side of performance art. Here, in front of a giant illuminated heart and gold tinsel curtains, MisSa – dressed in an elaborate bondage outfit made entirely of black gaffer tape – performed an erotic wax pour act that challenged everything I thought I knew about performance art. Since then, it has been my mission to watch MisSa perform as often as possible – and I feel very honoured that she agreed to create this brand new set of images with me that feature in my award-winning book STRIP|TEASE – which is now available to purchase in both the UK (here) and the US (here). Want to know more about MisSa Blue and her upcoming solo show Rising of the Black Sheep? Read on…
Occupation: Performance Artist, Sword Swallower, Burlesque Star
How would your best friend describe you? Loyal, kind, accurate, workaholic, perfectionist, travel obsessed, snob, sometimes ‘a little bit too German’, free spirit.
Name three things that you always carry with you? Pen, toothpick, lipstick
What was the last book you read? Trevor Noah: Born a Crime, Emma Dabiri: Don’t touch my Hair & Stormzy: Rise UP. All extremely good
Do you remember how you originally found me? Yes, I think so … I saw an amazing photograph of Marnie Scarlet shot by you and wanted you to shoot me too. I think I asked her who you where and then contacted you. 2013 or 2014? [Tigz note: I checked my archives and you are spot on, it was 2014!]
What inspired your Burlesque journey? I am a stripper by heart. I’ve stripped for 14 years in what feels like every country on earth. That’s the longest I’ve kept any job. It’s in my blood and I am good at it. So whatever skill I learn I will eventually get naked while doing it. I guess it was inevitable that I turned to Burlesque. I really love the freedom we have in this genre that everything is allowed.
You’ve recently added Spoken Word Poetry to your incredible repertoire of performance skills. Can you tell us more? I used to write poetry when I was really young and saw myself as a writer for a bit. But then discovered travelling and fell in love with being on the move. I didn’t really have a proper home base until I moved to London 11 years ago, and did not keep a lot of pictures until social media entered our lives. All the experiences and memories are in my head. When I started working on my solo show, I was meant to outline the show on paper so I can work out the performance but instead started writing poetry again. As a black woman I’ve been silenced over and over again. It’s time to start talking.
Who would play you in a movie of your life? Cynthia Erivo or Florence Kasumba hopefully.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that the internet doesn’t know about you yet? I am a total introvert. I love to be alone. I used to spend weeks and weeks alone in Thailand on the beach in rainy season just reading or watching the sea. Now during lockdown I’ve rediscovered real ‘me-time’. It’s so important.
Tell us about one of the outfits you wore for your shoot – why do you love it? I love the purple bikini. It was a gift from a generous friend in the USA and reminds me of my 2019 tour where I headlined shows all overthe States. I travelled non stop for 4 weeks meeting so many amazing people. A reminder of very good times!
Describe your shoot experience? Shooting with you is always a great honour, very exiting but still so relaxed. I feel safe and understood as a performer, model and woman. It’s a definite highlight to work with a professional boss like you!
What song gets you on the dancefloor? I love hip hop and drum and bass, grime and some pop. Right now I am listening to Stormzy. Maybe a bit late to the party but I have been away from the UK so much the last years touring I am just now catching up with new releases. Lockdown dance party in my house alone is always to Skrillex.
What are you most proud of in your career so far? A few things really: Learning how to swallow sword. My TEDx talk. Performing at the museum of Contemporary Art in Bordeaux. Performing at Burlesque Hall Of Fame. Being voted the #1 most Influential Burlesque Performer in 2018. And that I never bought into trends or followed a certain influential teacher for too long. I do my own thing and answer to nobody. I think that is what keeps my work unique or I would hope so at least.
What is your top body confidence tip? Don’t compare yourself to others. Ever.
What will your autobiography be called? ‘Rising of the Black Sheep’. Just like my solo show.
If you could be a model for any brand, which brand would it be and why? That’s really hard to say. Probably a black owned brand or any brand that really has a mission to portray diversity and change the landscape of the media long term.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about booking a boudoir session of their own? Do it! It’s a great experience and a great act of self love.
Most inspirational/memorable performer you’ve seen? Guillermo Gomez Pena, Perle Noire & Jeez Loueez
What exciting project are you working on right now? My first solo show ‘Rising of the Black Sheep’ is coming out this year. I’ve been working on the project for 2 years now and it’s narrative is racism. I have looked into different ways on how to translate this heavy subject onto the stage and make a piece that’s entertaining with the serious undertone of real valid feelings and telling my own story. I think I found a good balance. This show is made for everyone but I need to highlight that it is not an educational piece. I don’t want people expecting me to explain the world. We have Google. I see myself more like transformational spokesperson who calls for greater change by tapping into peoples hearts. I am currently building a recoding studio in my house. The War In Progress version of the show is coming to Zoom in July. You can support MisSa Blue and ‘Rising of the Black Sheep’ by donating here.