We caught up with the uber-talented burlesque entertainer and showgirl, Pastel Supernova. Pastel gave us the juice on what it’s really like to be a professional burlesque dancer & showgirl. Pastel has been dancing for over 17 years and has performed all over the world, including years of touring with pop artist, Nelly Furtado. After settling back into her hometown, Toronto, Supernova founded one of the edgiest and sexually charged dance theatre companies, Love Letters Cabaret.
Here’s what Pastel had to say about what it’s like being a burlesque entertainer in Toronto.
Q: How did you go from classical ballet to becoming a Burlesque Entertainer? Was this always a passion/dream of yours?
It was a pretty organic transition. I have always wanted a dance company that pushes boundaries and celebrates beauty in all of its forms. When I found burlesque I was immediately enchanted by the boldness of its nature and also by the fabulously witty performers who thrive in that fantasy land. I instantly wanted to be a part of it, learn everything and share it with the world, so that’s what I’m doing.
Q: You’ve traveled the world and danced with A-list stars – who was your favourite to work with?
I worked the most with Nelly Furtado, touring with her nearly nonstop for several years and she shared so much knowledge with me that has helped me build the foundations of what I have now. She’s down to earth and quirky, generous and gave me a chance to experience endless performances where I got to perform in front of 80,000 people or more at a time. I am very grateful and have many memories.
Q: What has been your most memorable experience in your career?
I will never forget performing in Cannes where I was within touching distance of Karl Lagerfeld, who I admire deeply. I gave my everything during that 45 minute performance and felt fabulous only to walk off stage and see that my makeup was a runny terrible mess… I looked like the Joker and he probably was avoiding my travesty behind those big sunglasses of his. It was a fail I intend on never repeating.
Q: At this stage in your career, you spend a lot of time teaching dance, choreography and fitness. What impact are you hoping to have on women through your classes? Would women who aren’t planning on being professional dancers still benefit from your classes?
I hope to share a little Poom Poom Power with everyone I work with so we can all look in the mirror and feel sexy. I don’t think it’s necessary to be a sexual creature, but I definitely feel it’s important to feel beautiful and to be able to recognize and celebrate the beauty in other people.
Q: How do you stay “on” on the days where you just aren’t feeling it?
That’s just the professional code of conduct. If I don’t put my issues aside when it’s time to work then I don’t get paid. It’s that simple.
Q: Do you see yourself as a business woman or as an entertainer first?
I am an artist who entertains. I need to make my bank, of course, but the pleasure of creating and connecting is what motivates my every waking day.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge or obstacle in your career and what advice would you give young women who are aspiring to make it in entertainment or business in general?
Show business itself is a tricky industry and it’s not loyal by nature but I know how I want to represent myself and work through it. It helps to be able to create your own work and if that’s a challenge, it’s an excellent skill to practice. The best advice I can give is to know your strengths and learn to roll with the punches. Keep a good work ethic and don’t let ego make any decisions for you, you never know who you will work with in the future.
Q: For someone who has never seen one of your shows, what can they expect?
Love Letters Cabaret offers luxurious performances with world class entertainment and a naughty sense of humour. One can expect a night full of showgirls, live singers and a lot of interaction between the host and the audience. This is the only burlesque review where one can see talent whose collective credits include The National Ballet of Canada to Degrassi TNG to The Ellen Show to Lady Gaga. We’ve all performed with the best of the best.
Q: What city has the best audience to perform for?
Despite the fact that I’d go to Tokyo in a nanosecond, I love Toronto the most… Out of all the venues I’ve performed around the world, dancing for Prince Charles and Prince Harry included, Toronto makes me work the hardest which I like. It’s a tough audience because this city is blessed with amazing talent but if one can impress theatre goers here I put money on the fact that the rest of the world will be quite pleased.
Q: What does a perfect night out in Toronto look like to you?
I love starting my night with a fabulous dinner and a live show. There’s usually at least a handful of bands, or burlesque shows or theatre events happening at a downtown venue on any given night. Big clubs I keep for gigs, but a good bar hop along Ossington or Dundas West is my jam. I like performing in classy venues but for my own party time, I keep it pretty grimy.
Q: What’s your go-to restaurant here in the city?
I eat out absolutely everyday but Pat’s Jamaican spot on Queen West is the absolute best. It’s far from fancy but so very delicious… and open nearly all the time.
Q: What’s next for you?
I’ve got a year’s worth of shows to prepare, a burlesque tour to build for the end of the year and also I’m going to put some time into my new brand, Hunty Swag which is a line of “glam trash” street wear and custom outfits for the flashy and the fierce.
Q: What’s the best way for people to connect with you?
I love connecting with people and the best way to have a chat is in person, so come say hi at my monthly Love Letters shows. I make time after every show to hang out and dance and socialize… Also I’m pretty shy offstage so you must actually come say hi to me or else I’ll be by the bar. Online I’m totally addicted to Instagram (@pastelsupernova) so find me and message me and I will reply – so long as the messages aren’t rude!
Love Letters Cabaret puts on monthly shows – check out her website or follow along her oh-so-sexy Instagram.