Diva Disastar South Africa's Original Dame of Burlesque
Whimsical and cheeky, Diva Disastar entices and entertains audiences with her sultry smile and burly buffoonery.
With a penchant for bawdy humor and bad-to-the-bone bumps and grinds, this dynamic ‘South Africa’s Original Dame of Burlesque’ is a lady of many disguises!
Being a founder of the artform in her country, Diva has over 18 years experience in the sensual arts, and started the first troupe in SA, Black Orchid Burlesque, in 2007. Since then, she has continued to perform across stages in Namibia, SA and UK; and now ONLINE. Diva Disastar is not only a well-seasoned and multi-talented Performing Artiste and show Producer in her own right, but she also creates costumes for the community at large through Disastar By Design, while hosting classes and specialty workshops through Black Orchids’ Burlesque Academy. Truly a glittering godmother of the artform in her country, Diva Disastar continues to teach and inspire performers across the world through her online workshops, where she passionately shares her seductive secrets with the world!
About Diva Disastar
A little backstory behind your favourite South African burlesque diva.
History & Influences
I studied ballet for many years as a young girl, and did Drama for most of my school life. This helped give me some foundations to start from and helped focus my emphasis on character driven performances. The biggest influence on my burlesque would be what I learnt from dancing in Gentlemen’s Clubs while earning money to pay my University degree. It’s a cliche yes, but I will never regret doing it! I learnt that my body had power, and that I was able to take ownership of my own sensuality and sexuality. After teaching pole dance and lap dancing to female clientele at the clubs under the company name ‘Seductive Secrets’, I decided to pursue Burlesque instead and bring an art form to life that had not yet hit the shores of South Africa.
Burlesque gave me back my self confidence, after years of feeling less than while dancing for Gentlemen’s Clubs. I realised that it was a wonderfully transformative performance art that not only celebrated originality, but also self expression of sensuality in a way that makes people blossom both on and off stage.
At first we struggled to find any information on what this incredible artform was, and even what we had access to via the internet was utterly limited in 2007. We had no history to draw from, no local legends to look up too. I originally formulated my style around Gypsy Rose Lee, as I loved her approach to the audience. I love bantering with the crowd and being vocally saucy. As my character developed I naturally gravitated to the likes of Jo Weldon, Iva Handful, Medianoche, Aurora Galore, Immodesty Blaze and more. I like to think of myself as a diverse and dynamic performer who has dabbled in many styles and genres.
What does the family think?
At first I did not tell many family members, mainly because we live in a rather conservative society here in S.A. My friends were completely supportive, and still often pop into shows to see what we are up to after all these years. My whole family knows now, and fully accept that Burlesque is a natural extension of my crazy personality and determination to go against the mainstream. My mum’s my biggest fan!
Burlesque Career Achievements and Top Highlights
Since beginning her burlesque journey in 2007, Diva Disastar has had the honour of performing on many different types of stages and collaborated with many incredible artists. Along with performing at Corporate Functions and Private Parties for some illustrious clients and famous celebrities, Diva also became a regular sight-for-sore-eyes on Festival stages across the country. Take a look at this list of notable achievements and career highlights, as Diva shares more about her profuse career performing and spreading the love for Burlesque acoss South Africa, and abroad.
- Co-Founder of the 1st company in SA, Black Orchid Burlesque, in Dec 2007.
- Started the first burlesque troupe in Johannesburg, in 2009.
- Dubbed as “South Africa’s Original Dame of Burlesque” by my peers in 2010.
- Performed for the French Football Federation in 2010 for World Cup Gala event in SA.
- Performed in Ster Kinekor Cinemas at the nationwide launch of the movie ‘Burlesque’ in 2010.
- Started Black Orchid’s Burlesque Academy in 2011 , that has some of SA’s top solo performers as graduates.
- Resident feather fan dancer at Vaudeville Supper Club from 2010, until it closed down in 2011.
- Toured to Namibia in 2012 for 6 weeks with VaudeVille Namibia, a cirque styled Dinner Show.
- Returned with my own troupe the following year for a guest appearance at a Gala event for First National Bank.
- Performer, Co-Producer, Choreographer and costume coordinator for Trash Cabaret from 2013 to 2016
- Host & coordinator of the annual charity event, The Grand Exhibition Johannesburg Burlesque Benefit, from 2015 to 2020.
- Diva performed as an honorary resident member of The Cape Town Magic Club from 2016-2018.
- Toured the first burlesque production in Durban in 2017 with Black Orchid Burlesque & friends
- Performed in London in December 2019 for Camden Cabaret & Crass Menagerie.
- Performed online for Glasgow Festival of Burlesque in 2020.
- Designing and creating burlesque costumes, props and accessories in SA since 2007.
- I have Produced many shows and productions such as- Theatre of Temptations; The Great SA Burlesque Express; After Dark; The Varie-TATA-Tease; Looks That Kill; EggSposed; Fetish & Feathers; and more!
- One of my favourite show series created is the Dinner shows; Dining with Diva. We also hosted ‘Let’s Misbehave’ & ‘Bon Appetite’, featuring guest artistes and lavish performer character-based menus. Cape Town can look out for our Brunch Edition in 2021!
- I happily co-produce Boudoir Blues, The Gender Bender Show & At The Drop of a Hat with my husbian, King St Fox.
- Other notable clients I have performed for are: The Sun Met; Virgin Mobile; Sanlam; Vodacom; ABSA Bank; Nedbank; Forino Fashions, Sun International Casinos; Nike; Independent Media, Amway, The Loeries Film Awards; and many more.
- Festivals and Expos I have performed at include: Southern Ink Tattoo Convention (CT); The Fine Brandy Festival (CT & JHB); The Table Mountain Blues Summit; Dusty Rebels & The Bombshells Rockabilly Fest (JHB & CT); The Flamjangled Tea Party (CT); Rock The River (CT) ; Sexpo; The Franschoek Bastille Day Festival, Rocking The Daisies (CT); Metal4Africa (JHB ,CT & DBN); RAMusic Fest; (JHB & CT) Smoking Dragon Festival’s Hot Pink Chill (KZN); Mother City Queer Party (CT); The Vintage Experience (CT); Bokeh Fashion Film Festival (CT); The Fine Business Women’s Showcase (CT); M.I.S.S. Parties (CT); Ultra Festival (CT) and Cape Town Pride Festival.