Stage Kitten 101: The Ultimate Secrets Of Stage Kittening From A Burlesque Pro!

Never stage kittened before? Not even sure what the heck a stage kitten is? Well, take a look at this expert stage kittening how-to put together by cheeky burlesque star Zenda LaBelle!

Zenda is a member of The Starlets burlesque troupe in Dallas, and is well known for her saucy performances. She also has an impressive amount of stage kittening experience. As you will see, this star believes that stage kittening is the best way to get to know the burlesque performers in your area and the ins and outs of this great business…all while having a lot of fun!

Hello! My name is Zenda LaBelle and I love burlesque!  I love watching, I love performing, and I absolutely love having the honor of kittening for shows! Here are some of the things I’ve learned about kittening. I hope they give you some ideas of ways to make the most of your opportunity:


  1. Check with the producer to find out what they are looking for. Most have something specific in mind so be flexible. If there are no guidelines, you can play up the fact that you are going to be a “kitten” – some sort of feline ears, cuffs, tail, wrist cuffs, and/or neckpiece – not all are needed – at least the ears. These are common costuming items that can be easily found or borrowed and will go with the rest of any costume.
  2. The rest of the costume should be very sexy – corsets, petticoat skirts, boyshorts, etc. – anything sexy, as long as it does not upstage the performers. If possible, tie it in to the theme of the show, especially holiday colors.
  3. When you can, find out who the other stage kittens are and coordinate the costumes. A united effort gives a more polished look to the entire show, and the producer will very much appreciate it!
  4. Make sure complete costume, from head to toe, is packed up and ready to roll the night before the performance. You can even try on the entire costume to make sure everything fits and looks just right, and then pack it up as you are taking everything off.

Before the show:

  1. If there is a dress rehearsal (usually only for The Burlesque Experience performances), go to it. Get a complete list of performers and the order in which they are performing.
  2. Get a list of props for each performer and how they want it set up on stage. Be detailed – get colors, draw diagrams, do anything that will help you remember best what needs to happen the night of the show. This is the appropriate time for your OCD to come out!
  3. If there is not a dress rehearsal, get this list from the producer 2-3 days before the show.
  4. At The Burlesque Experience Starlet shows, the kittens usually buy large solid-colored gift bags, 1 for each performer. Print out a sheet of paper with a performer’s name on it. Attach it to a bag. So you end up with a bag for each performer with his/her name on it. These are to put props in before the performance and clothes in after. I realize most shows don’t do this, but some sort of organization system, and maybe a prettily decorated basket to pick up clothing after the show will be very helpful in enabling you to do the best job possible.

At the show:

  1. Arrive as early possible – at the curtain call for the performers. Be helpful in assisting others with costuming, makeup, and hair as needed.
  2. Double check your list of props with each performer.
  3. Get all props from each performer that they are not taking with them directly on stage, and put them in their corresponding bags or what ever organization system you have worked out.
  4. Line up props/bags offstage, in an area where they will out of the way, in the order of the performances.
  5. Before each performance: make sure all props are set up on stage.
  6. Another Burlesque Experience specialty is to be especially encouraging to new performers – whisper words of compliment and encouragement. Rub or pat their back and give them a hug. More seasoned performers may also appreciate this, too! A “Go get ‘em!” or “You’ve got this!” is always appreciated.
  7. Help each performer on and off the stage – those heels can be treacherous.
  8. Finally, after the performance, pick up all costume pieces off the stage. Check carefully in corners and at the back of the stage – especially if the pieces are black.
  9. Since between acts you are removing costuming and props for one performer, and setting up props for the next, it can be helpful to have 1 kitten remove clothes while the other sets up and takes off props. But if you are done with “your” task, be sure to help out the other kitten if there is anything left to be done.
  10. While onstage, play it up! Watch your posture, be cute, wiggle your hips when walking, be dainty and proper, yet sexy, while performing your tasks. People will be watching you, so give them something nice to look at! You’re putting on a show!

Final note: Being a stage kitten is a very busy, vital part to the show. This experience enabled me to really get a perspective of everything that goes into an entire show. To do it properly, you most likely will not have time for socializing before or during the show. (I thought I would, but I didn’t.) After the show, once you’ve ensured all props and costumes have been returned to each performer; enjoy the success of a well-run production!

This was a fabulous experience for myself, and I highly encourage anyone interested in burlesque, or already performing burlesque, to give stage kittening a try, if you haven’t already. I have a whole new appreciation for the art of kittening!

For more information about me and my burlesque experiences, please friend me on facebook: Zenda LaBelle.

Posted on December 22, 2011, in Burlesque, Guest Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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