Burlesque a confidence boost for north Queensland women of all shapes and ages

Strutting on stage in underwear might not seem an obvious self-confidence booster, but women from Townsville's Queen B burlesque troupe say that is exactly what they get from the group.

"Coming in to this class I feel great, I feel sexy and I don't think a lot of women feel that anymore," said disability worker Jasmine, who signed up to try and improve her body confidence.

"I was very unsure of myself when I first messaged Vivienne. I said 'I'm a bigger girl, I am afraid of all my curves and my bits and pieces'.

"[Performing on stage] has helped me the most with my confidence and it has come through to my everyday life... I am sexy; it doesn't matter what the rest of you think."

The troupe has been performing in Townsville for four years and boasts a membership of more than 120 women from university students to senior citizens.

Instructor Miss Vivienne Starr said most women came along to do something just for themselves.

"It is women of all shapes and sizes. They could have four kids at home, they could be rushing out to cook dinner," Miss Starr said.

"We have got ladies that work out on properties, doctors, lawyers [and] there is one who is a soil technician!

"We are having fun, we are getting fit and it is great for body confidence."

Childcare worker Melissa, whose burlesque name is Miss Etta Sublime who said the women in the group were very supportive.

"I have got a 16-year-old daughter who said to me 'mum, this is the first time you have ever done anything for you' and it is pretty damn fun; I love it," she exclaimed.

"It doesn't matter if you are stick thin or you are a bigger woman, anyone can do it, and the friendship ... we are all good mates."

Busting burlesque's tawdry image

Miss Starr describes burlesque as the "art of tease" and said while the group sometimes performed in lingerie, often they remained in costume or fully clothed.

She said the troupe's numbers had doubled each year and a recent Australian tour by American burlesque professional Dita Von Teese had furthered interest.

"I think in Australia it is actually getting bigger and is breaking the perception that we are strippers," Miss Starr said.

Dental nurse Danielle has been part of the Queen B troupe for a year and said people's judgement of burlesque as tawdry soon disappeared when they saw a performance.

She chuckled as she recalled her partner's response when she announced she was taking burlesque classes.

"My partner thought when I started burlesque it would be for him," Danielle said.

"'You are going to dress up in slutty outfits, you are going to dance for me', but now he realises it is not for him.

"We dance because it makes us feel good, not because it makes anyone else happy."

The troupe is currently working on a routine they will perform on the bar of at a local pub for Valentine's Day.

Previously, they have appeared at festivals, pubs, at Reef HQ aquarium (with a marine theme) and at school formal nights.

Miss Vivienne said it was fantastic to see the women's confidence improve as they worked towards their first public performance.

"Before they go on I say 'just fake it until you make it' and then usually after the first performance they say 'yep, I have made it'," Miss Starr said.

Jasmine agreed, and said performing on stage in knickers and nipple tassels, and revealing her sexy side to strangers had been scary but so empowering.

"Doing that sort of stuff for people you don't know and then they cheer you, it really makes you feel amazing," she said.