Photos of What a Burlesque Dancer Sees on a Friday Night

In this week’s installment of First-Person Shooter, we handed off two cameras to Clara Coquette, a burlesque dancer in New York City. During the day, she works in medical science research, but at night she practices her true passion by choreographing intricate and playful strip teases at various bars and art spaces around the city.

Clara is extremely dedicated to her craft. In any given performance, she’ll often don an Admiral Akbar mask or dress up as an American Horror Story clown to psyche-out her audience. On the Friday night she tore through her disposables, she documented the behind-the-scenes action that goes on when she’s not up on stage.

VICE: What was your day like Friday? Where did it start? What’d you get up to? 
Clara Coquette: I started my Friday waking up in my apartment and getting ready for my day job in medical science research. Afterward, I came home, ate a snack, and started prepping for a show at Bedlam Burlesque, which has a rotating cast of performers. It’s held on the first Friday of every month at Bedlam Bar.

It looks like you have a good deal of makeup and clothes in your room. What’s the process like to get ready for a show?
A few days before a performance, I will rehearse my act and fix anything on the costume that needs mending. I usually pack my bag up the day before my gig by laying everything out to make sure I have everything I need.

My makeup look for each act varies depending on the costume and feel of the act. Stage makeup builds on the act, helps get into character, and adds glamor. It is heavier than everyday makeup because it needs to be seen from afar and under the stage lights. My routine usually involves a dark smokey eye with the colors of the costume, one or two sets of lashes, heavy blush, dark eyebrows, and red lips. I usually put glitter on my eyes and lips to add some sparkle.I usually try to do my makeup at home before I go to the gig because backstages can vary with the lighting, mirror availability, and space. I’ve gotten ready in kitchen prep areas, bathrooms, offices, and a curtained-off corner of the bar—to name a few. I sometimes wear wigs for my acts which I usually wait to put on backstage. Backstage, I also apply body glitter for more sparkle under the stage lights before I get dressed.

Read full article and see all the photos on Vice