I Love My Job: Burlesque Ballerina Lelu Lenore
She tells us where she gets all those fabulous costumes and explains how her job is different than dancing at Delilah's.
This Thursday, rising Philadelphia burlesque star Christine Fisler takes to the stage of Franky Bradley’s with her monthly burlesque revue, La Maison Rose. We caught up with her to find out what it’s like to have a job that requires you to bare it all. Well, almost all.
My real name is… Christine Fisler.
The origin of my burlesque name is… a romantic secret. My love named me that back in 2009. People know me as Lelu Lenore, the Everlastingly Luscious Lelu Lenore, and, when people see me on point, they call me the Burlesque Ballerina.
I grew up… poor in Belford, New Jersey, Monmouth County. I came to Philly to go to University of the Arts for dance.
My first job in life… was as a catering waitress for weddings in Sea Bright, New Jersey on the beach. It was terrible, but you’re not going to have a good job when you are 17 years old.
I started doing burlesque… once I became wiped with it all. I had been dancing since I was four. I graduated from college, and I lost my love for dance. All of the auditions, they wanted you to look a certain way. I didn’t have that specific look. I wasn’t “fit” in the way they wanted me to be fit. Plus, I wanted to do my own choreography, tell my own story. And my friends were always telling me I had the body for burlesque. I’m curvy.
My other job is that I… bartend at Garces Trading Company. I’ve bartended at a lot of places in Philly. Most of them have closed down: Le Castagne, Bookbinder’s, Table 31, Coyote Ugly, Snackbar. Maybe I’m bad luck. Or maybe I’m just so loyal that I stick around until they close.
The thing I love most about doing burlesque… is the freedom to be able to do what I want, telling my story, picking my music, creating something I want to create, and then doing it and connecting with other people.
The toughest thing about it is… that when you take your clothes off, people might perceive you a certain way. It’s hard to explain what you do, but once people come to a show they get it and love it. But that’s with any art form. You have people that don’t get it. But when it comes to women and sex, we have it a little harder.
The difference between what I do and what a woman dancing at Delilah’s does… is that, to me, this is more of an art form. Don’t get me wrong: Strippers have their own art form. What they do on the poles takes a lot of technique and artistry. But for me, no one is putting money in my pockets, I’m not going into the back corner and giving a couch dance, I’m not hustling… Strippers are the ones wearing nothing and making the money. We are the ones wearing very expensive costumes and making no money.
For Christmas this year… I think I already got my present: A vintage fur coat. I just got it on Tuesday. I would never ask for it, but it’s definitely glamourous. And it’s vintage, so I didn’t kill any animals.
The worst job I ever had was… working at a bar in Old City where the owner tried to take advantage of having beautiful women as bartenders, forcing them to wear short jean shorts and little tank tops. I refused and left.
My burlesque costumes… are mostly made by Rob Paluso, who in drag is known as Anita Manhattan. And my big pink boa was made by the burlesque legend Fannie Annie in Las Vegas. I also can rhinestone the hell out of things myself.
My mother’s impression of what I do is… that she loves it. She comes to shows all of the time.
As for my dad… he doesn’t really know I do it. He knows that I dance, and he doesn’t even like that.
My heroes include… lots of old school Hollywood actresses like Rita Hayworth, Elizabeth Taylor, Vivian Leigh. A newer hero is Dolly Parton. She played eight instruments! People always used to put her down. She wanted the glitz and the glamour. When she was a kid, she saw a prostitute on the street and said, “Mama, I wanna look like that girl!”
The recent Hollywood fallout… has angered me so much. All of these men taking advantage of women. It’s been happening for hundreds of years. Now, you have a man like Trump being elected, a man who talks to women the way he does, and it scares me for what I do, that men think they can say or do whatever they want to women. But now, they are starting to realize that they can’t. It’s about time.