Behind The Velvet Curtain of Brisbane’s Burlesque Scene


by Sarina Quinlan

As Brisbane gears up for the annual Gangster’s Ball, 4ZZZ throws a spotlight on Brisbane’s Lena Marlene, mistress of all things burlesque.

A self confessed workaholic/masochist, Marlene is the Co-Director of Scoundrelles School of Pole, Burlesque and Performance, a teacher of burlesque for Mad Dance, a burlesque and circus performer in her own right and the Producer and Artistic Director of The RaGTaG Revue and the Chrome St Follies (formerly known as The Velvet Follies – their name change due to their new studio location).

Lena Marlene - Clarissa Bones, Raw Bones Photography

Who are The Chrome St Follies?
“The Chrome St Follies are an eclectic collection of performers who don’t quite fit into any other niche. Not quite Cabaret, not quite circus and too fickle to be theatre. Most commonly labelled burlesque they love corsetry and a good punch line, the absurd and the sublime and know that anything good has to be done with passion. Some are professionally trained (in all sorts of things from Opera to Ballet to Contemporary), others have learnt the hard way.”

What are the Chrome Street Follies promoting?
“I think about the only thing the Follies is promoting is a slightly askew appreciation of beauty. Not always the traditional, certainly not always the classical and often found in strange places. It’s not always burlesque, sometimes totally indefinable but always entertaining. Many who have seen us now might never have gone to a ‘burlesque’ event thinking it just a euphemism for stripping. Now I hope they might know better!”

Who is involved?
“All the performers are very giving of their time and willing to investigate my ideas and are very tolerant of my choices in music – which is all essential. My fellow Scoundrelles Vivienne La Rouge and Clare Leigh Risque are rocks… There is no substitute for live music, Maestro Jennings and his talented bunch of musicians are a vital ingredient.

For several months though I lived, ate & breathed Follies. Delegation is the least of my talents and there is so very much to do for such a large show – I swear it nearly killed me! But now we have a fabulous core group of performers who know very well what I need from them and who understand my artistic vision.”

What next for The Follies?
“The Chrome St Follies have already successfully taken our show to the opening of the Waterloo Hotel, The Up Front Club at Maleny, The Shine Ball and this weekend both the Gangster’s Ball at The Tivoli and the Hoa’s Angels Masquerade Gala Charity Ball. At the end of this month it’s a road trip with a difference when we pack our sequins and feathers and replace Opera at a fundraising Gala in PNG!”

How can people get involved?

“Burlesque is a hard one to break in to. Not a week goes by that someone doesn’t ask me how to get a spot in a show… Go to shows and see what you like and what you don’t. Introduce yourself to the producer from a position of humility…above all please remember that the producer has their reputation riding on the quality of all the shows….If you truly don’t know where to start get to class! I have seen the potential in many a gal in class and more than one RaGTaGger or Follier has come from there.”

Clarissa Bones - Raw Bones Photography

To keep up to date with the latest burlesque news and events, add Lena Marlene on Facebook.

For burlesque and pole dancing classes visit

More Brisbane Burlesque Events
Miss Bertie’s Smoking Joynt @ Hope and Montague St, West End

Cantina in the Spiegeltent

Chaz Royal’s Big Top burlesque Follies


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