Pow! Known around the world as ‘The Ass that goes Pow’, Michelle L’amour exposes the world of burlesque dancing and the true definition of beauty. A winner of Miss Exotic World 2005, former contestant on America’s Got Talent, and frequent performer across the US, Michelle is a star in the burlesque scene who is out to bring this age old art into the mainstream. We recommend everyone, from young to old, go see her troupe’s upcoming shows – we’ll even make it easy for you: see the schedule at the end of the feature!
The lady behind the pow…
F: Sounds like you live an interesting life traveling the country performing. Do you ever get bored?
ML’: Are you kidding! I don’t have time to be bored! I manage a production company, a burlesque dance studio, websites, costuming, travel, and 16 Chicago Starlets. Holy crap, that’s a lot of shit!
F: It seems that being a burlesque dancer, requires a lifestyle of sexy. Does the dancing influence who you are or do you influence the dancing? What’s your definition of sexy?
ML’: They definitely influence each other. It’s like asking, which came first, the chicken or the egg. No one really knows for sure. My definition of sexy is being a genuine person. In order to be truly sexy, you must show that it comes from an honest place. That lets people know that it’s ok to watch and enjoy, because it’s coming from a healthy place.
F: How have your acts changed since you first started performing?
ML’: Well, I’m certainly a lot better! I’ve learned how to better craft my acts and put as much of me in them as possible. I really like surprising the audience. It’s all about finding your style and being comfortable within that.
See a clip of Michelle performing below. Requires plug-in.
F: Why does everyone who works at your studio seem to have the most exotic names? What’s behind the practice? Do you read applications and throw away all the Jane Smiths?
ML’: Actually, the naming is a grueling process. All the Chicago Starlets have been studying with me for 2-3 years. For their first student show, they were required to come up with stage names. Some of them would go thru many names before I granted them their wish. I’m the burlesque fairy godmother in many ways. Anyway, we put a ban on names like Kitty, Something Von Something, and ridiculous puns. Girl’s gotta have standards.
F: I imagine a lot of awed faces staring at you during a show…what goes through your mind as you see the bulging eyes from the crowd or the dropped jaws?
ML’: Well, a lot of times, I just giggle to myself. I think it’s absolutely hilarious. I love the audience. They’re great. You must respect and love the audience, otherwise, why show up? Sometimes I will single people out and play with them. Other times, I am being strategic in my staging and dealing with certain stage environment can be super challenging! Like, oh look, there’s a cord over there, don’t shimmy over that!
F: We’ve seen your ass go POW. Is it insured or have you considered insuring it?
ML’: No, it’s not, so don’t get too close. I have to protect my baby.
F: You teach burlesque dance at your studio. Is it difficult to get your students to throw out all inhibitions? What is your secret to developing your students?
ML’: I really encourage my students to find something they love about themselves and showcase it. It’s all about being comfortable in your body. Sure, the first time you feel the breeze on your naked skin, it’s a little jarring, but then you become incredibly addicted. Look what happened to me! Anyway, I really love watching the girls make progress. It is such a scary and vulnerable thing, but so life changing.
F: If you didn’t do burlesque dancing, what else do you think you would have done?
ML’: Well, I did go to school for finance. I guess that? I don’t know. Makes my insides itch just to think about not taking my clothes off for a ‘living’.
F: If Big Brother put you in charge of the censors, what would broadcast TV look like?
ML’: I would definitely get rid of dumbass girls on TV. I hate it. Why must you dumb yourself down to be sexy. I think it’s a huge problem with the ladies out there. I teach intelligent sexuality. And of course there would be a burlesque reality show on TV. I mean, I’m trying, but we’ll see.
Where to burlesque in Chicago
F: Your favorite place to perform?
ML’: I really have loved performing at the Music Box Theater. I love historic theaters.
F: What is the best place or thing to do for locals to feel sexy?
ML’: I really recommend coming to see one of my shows with the Chicago Starlets, or perhaps come to Naked Girls Reading, a monthly event at my studio, or hey, how about taking some burlesque classes. Wow, so glad I have things to talk about!
F: For most locals who tend to keep their clothes on all day, especially during the winter, what’s the best way to learn burlesque and say bye to inhibitions?
ML’: You should come to Studio L’amour and we’ll take care of you.
F: What’s the city’s sexiest restaurant?
ML’: I really love Marche.
F: If you could perform anywhere in the city, where would you do it?
ML’: The Chicago Theatre. It’s one of my many dreams.
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Notable events coming up
June 20 (8pm – midnight, Studio L’Amour) – L’amour Couture Launch: features performances by the starlets and the premiere of sexurious headpieces; also the one year anniversary for Studio L’amour
June 26 (8pm, Gene Siskel Film Center) – Summer Student Showcase
July 10 (7-10pm, Studio L’Amour) Naked Girls Reading: Watch the L’amour team read your favorite bedtime stories.