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Duchesse wins Burlesque Queen in New Orleans

The recently married duchesse (sorry boys) brought her glam-goth style to the stage in sexy, spidery, acrobatic fashion and walked away queen. (Courtesy Lauren Jiles)

It’s been a banner year for Lauren Jiles. She just returned to Montreal after being in New Orleans for the past two weeks. Jiles, also known by her stage name Lou Lou La Duchesse De Rière, was crowned the 2018 New Orleans Queen of Burlesque last weekend.

“It’s one of the most recognized and coveted titles in our industry,” said Jiles. “I can’t believe it, I’m still in shock.”

The well-known Montreal burlesque dancer from Kahnawake has been on stages across North America  for more than a decade now.

The title win in New Orleans is a crowning achievement in her career. It’s not only a professional highlight, it also represents who she is and where she comes from.

“It’s the first time that a First Nations woman has won this title,” said Jiles, which, she said, shows how accepting her industry is.

Lou Lou La Duchesse De Riere added acrobatics to her act in New Orleans creating the most stunning spider effect seen in the south that night. (Courtesy Lauren Jiles)

The New Orleans Burlesque Festival is in its 10th year. She’s been to the festival six times and it was her third time competing for the Queen of Burlesque title. “I placed last year and came in second runner up,” she said.

She competed against seven other performers from around the world on the stage last Saturday night. The sold out show was at the historic Civic Theatre on in front of a capacity crowd.

“It was really intense, the competition was with a live band so literally anything could happen during the performance,” said Jiles.

To get ready for it, Jiles went to New Orleans two weeks before the competition to play with the band and go through her routine at another show called Bust Out Burlesque. “It was like a rehearsal,” she said.

After 13 years in burlesque all those rehearsals are paying off, she said. It’s been a vey busy year for her but it’s also been one of her most gratifying.

She was also voted one of the top 50 influential performers in the world by 21st Century Burlesque, an influential industry magazine.

She placed on the list alongside Virago Nation, an all-Indigenous burlesque troupe based out of Vancouver.

“I’ve been receiving a lot of support from the over all burlesque community, but also from people of colour, and Indigenous performers,” said Jiles.

This year she took a risk with her number. “I decided to do something that’s authentically me, so I did this gothy, vampy act. My costume was a spider and I added an aerial portion. I’ve been doing private training with a circus performer in Montreal,” she said.

“I do this classic burlesque bump and grind number and then these straps come down from the ceiling and I do this aerial strap portion. So the idea is to visually look like a spider,” she laughed.

The skills she learned in Montreal helped her win in New Orleans where she spends a lot of her time. “It’s such an honour and New Orleans is such a special city and it’s had a really special place in my heart for a large part of my career,” she said, adding that the whole thing has been surreal.

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