BWW Interview: Lola Boutée Shares Her Love of Burlesque and Career Leading The Dollface Dames

BWW Interview: Lola Boutée Shares Her Love of Burlesque and Career Leading The Dollface Dames

Kira Turnage aka Lola Boutée, the CEO, Director and 2008 Founder of The Dollface Dames promises her troupe of Burlesque entertainers is the best L.A. has to offer with their high-class, show-stopping live entertainment for any occasion, whether you're looking for the best burlesque shows in town or to book choreographed full stage shows, cabaret dancers, burlesque soloists, singers, aerialists, fire performers, hoop artists, contortionists, variety acts, or magicians. My curiosity got the best of me, so I sat down to chat with her about her career and how she decided to get into the world of burlesque.

Shari Barrett (SB): Which name would you prefer I use during this interview?

Lola Boutée (LB): When conducting business, I prefer my actual name Kira Turnage. But since this article is about my career as a burlesque performer who became the CEO, Director and 2008 Founder of The Dollface Dames, let's use my stage name of Lola Boutée.

(SB): What were you doing for work before your career in burlesque?

(LB): I was working as an actor, doing theater on the East Coast and then moved here for film work. But then SAG went on strike, and being a member of the union, I stopped working in film and went back to my theater roots. It was then I noticed how popular burlesque was getting and I figured I could make a business of it.

(SB): Where did the name Dollface Dames originate?

BWW Interview: Lola Boutée Shares Her Love of Burlesque and Career Leading The Dollface Dames(LB): The Dollface Dames name comes from the heyday of burlesque, and the image I wanted for the group was fresh-faced girls-next-door, the kind of person you wanted to take home to Mom but who totally changed personas when she got on the stage and released her inner fire. It had nothing to do with having them look like dolls or be in white-face with red lips like Betty Boop, or a mime on the streets of Paris.

(SB): There seems to be a real resurgence of burlesque going on right now. Why do you think that is?

(LB): Burlesque started in England in its music halls and then moved to Paris where it flourished. BWW Interview: Lola Boutée Shares Her Love of Burlesque and Career Leading The Dollface DamesVaudeville brought the art form to New York, first as the break number between acts before many of the dancers became the main attraction, much like the career of Gypsy Rose Lee as presented in the musical "Gypsy." Burlesque enjoyed its heyday from the 20s-40s, but then strip clubs started to open and flourish until they started to be shut down on morals concerns. That's when burlesque came back with the "tease" and not "strip" element in it.

(SB): How is burlesque different from strip tease?

(LB): One of the things I love about burlesque is that it is a misunderstood art form and a lot of people wonder why anyone would do it. Personally, I have been in the industry for 10 years and have had my own company for nine. BWW Interview: Lola Boutée Shares Her Love of Burlesque and Career Leading The Dollface DamesBut when I first started and told people what I was doing, they were surprised and did not understand what it was until they came to see a show. There is a big difference between being a burlesque performer as opposed to be a strip tease performer. Burlesque is all about the character, choreography, and the tease where you might get down to pasties but are never naked or trying to overstimulate audience members directly. So, if you want to see strip tease where women take it all off and "go farther" with audience members, you can go to a "Gentlemen's Club" for that kind of strip show. The Dollface Dames always keep ourselves classy and value ourselves as true entertainers.

(SB): I just marvel at all the different variations of burlesque you include in your shows as I don't think people realize what a broad type of performance art it really is.

BWW Interview: Lola Boutée Shares Her Love of Burlesque and Career Leading The Dollface Dames(LB): That's why people who go to one show and think they have seen all burlesque has to offer are so mistaken, especially here in L.A. where every company is completely different with every show having a different feel to it along with each group's own style of choreography. There is so much variety, within our own shows and the venues where we perform, that no two shows are alike. It really depends on the space where a show is done as to how it is presented with nudity never involved. And a live band makes all the difference!

(SB): Every show is different?

(LB): Oh yes. For example, our USO show has music from the 40s and 50s and is one of our most popular and best-attended. The one we are rehearsing now and performing on September 9 at Magicopolis is called Rock Live Band Burlesque and features both classic and modern hard rock, making the choreography very different from the USO show being done here again on November 11.

(SB:) What made you decide to do so many different types of shows?

BWW Interview: Lola Boutée Shares Her Love of Burlesque and Career Leading The Dollface Dames(LB): We love doing the USO show because it is from the vintage days of burlesque and it is what most people expect to see when they come to a show. People who want us for private parties often want a Gatsby or flapper theme. We did a routine at the end of last year for First Look on NBC, the flapper number (watch it here:, and if songs are old enough there are no fees to use them in our show. Any songs from the 20s and 30s are fine or if they are performed by a live band, then we are okay because we are not using the original recording and the live band plays it differently. And we have several singers in our group too, some of whom are not dancers.

(SB): How many people are in the Dollface Dolls company all together?

BWW Interview: Lola Boutée Shares Her Love of Burlesque and Career Leading The Dollface Dames(LB): We have over 30 principal performers in The Dollface Dames, so each show you go to, you will see a different rotation of the girls. I put together a schedule for each month so everyone knows when they will be going on and what routines will be done, and everyone is required to know all the group routines. The choreography is often tailored to the style of certain girls, but they need to know them all because I am a tough director (laughs). And this is my full-time job, so you can see me at least 3 times a week onstage with my girls.

(SB): Since you rehearse on weekday afternoons, do any of the girls have other full-time jobs?

(LB): In an ideal world, we would all be able to support ourselves just doing burlesque. But it's just not feasible at this point and a lot of the girls have different jobs. A few work 9 to 5 and rehearse with us on their lunch hour, and others are artists who can set their own hours.

(SB): Since there are so many different numbers, there must be a lot of costumes involved. Do you make them specifically for each of the girls?

BWW Interview: Lola Boutée Shares Her Love of Burlesque and Career Leading The Dollface Dames(LB): I have 8 closets full of costumes for all the numbers the group performs. Some are tailored a bit, of course, to fit each of the girls. And when we add in a new number, we go into the closets and pull pieces from different costumes to create new versions for other numbers. I shop for corsets online and have designers that work on other pieces to fit numbers so they are ready for dress rehearsal to be sure they will work with the movement in the number. So we need at least a month to prepare everything for a new number. It's on ongoing task since I provide all the items for group numbers with the dancers providing their own costumes for solo numbers. We are currently working on a can-can number so the costumes have to be designed to allow for that type of movement.

(SB): Just from watching a rehearsal, I can see The Dollface Dames are in incredible physical shape. What are the requirements for bringing a new dancer into the shows?

(LB): We have company auditions once a year during which we cast everything from dancers to singers to magicians, fire performers, etc. Since it is still an emerging art form, a lot of people have a dance background but have not done burlesque. I'm okay with that. They just have to have the ability to have that type of personality onstage to do their act and pull the audience's attention to them. Like most entertainers, it's the engaging of the audience that matters most. Audiences have to want to not take their eyes off you when you are on the stage.

BWW Interview: Lola Boutée Shares Her Love of Burlesque and Career Leading The Dollface Dames If they want to be considered as a principal dancer in the group, which means attending rehearsals and knowing all the numbers, Bunny, our lead choreographer, teaches auditioners a few combination moves, then watches them to be sure they can pick up the choreography quickly and know how to incorporate all parts of their body. Or if you want to be a host, some improv will be included in the audition, and specialty acts will show us their acts so we can determine how they could fit into one of our shows.

(SB): Do you have a favorite song to dance to in your shows?

(LB): It's definitely "Whatever Lola Wants" from "Damn Yankees." I was in that show back in the day, so it seemed a natural for me to take on that name and bring that over-the-top character into burlesque. It's just the perfect number for me, during which I add in a lot of comedic elements to her dominatrix persona.

(SB): I can see how this type of entertainment with such powerful women onstage would appeal to men and women. Comparatively speaking, how many men and women do you usually have in your audiences?

BWW Interview: Lola Boutée Shares Her Love of Burlesque and Career Leading The Dollface Dames(LB): Definitely and we have done shows for audiences of gay women, a lot of Bachelorette and Bachelor parties. Our audiences in general are 50/50, unless we are performing in a bar which usually means the audience is more male. And it's usually the women who are buying tickets to our big shows and bringing their partners and friends with them. A lot of people celebrate their anniversaries and birthdays with us.

(SB): How about the age range of your audiences?

(LB): I think you would be surprised at the age range. At Magicopolis, audience members have to be at least 18 while at bars, the minimum age is 21. Last week, we had a group celebrating a 60th birthday. BWW Interview: Lola Boutée Shares Her Love of Burlesque and Career Leading The Dollface DamesBut I swear there are people into their 90s who come to our shows. I think the older audience members love burlesque because it reminds them of their younger days and nostalgia is always popular! Burlesque is really an art form of self-expression where you can be anyone you want to be which is always a spirit-freeing experience. And audience enjoy bring entertained by it, and hopefully do not judge the women for being in the show. But like any art form, it may not be for everyone, and there is still a negative stereotype we are fighting against, but I think it speaks so true to being an excellent form of self-expression. And women who were chastised for doing in back then are now considered legends. It's timeless and empowering and feeling the reaction of the audience is amazing!

(SB): With everything The Dollface Dames offer to take your mind off your troubles as you hoot and holler at them from the audience, don't miss your chance to be a voyeur and experience their exciting variety of ongoing burlesque shows at the following locations:

Theater Burlesque
Burlesque is always amazing with a live band on the 2nd Saturday of EVERY Month on our largest stage where we have been performing for 6 years!

Sept 9 - Rock Live Band Burlesque
Oct 14 - Horror Show
Nov 11 - USO Big Band Magicopolis Show

Check-in/Preparty at 9:30 pm | Seating Starts 10:30pm

Door $30 VIP/$20 General Admission (PARTY PACKAGES available!)
Magicopolis, 1418 4th St Santa Monica, CA 90401


Live Big Band Burlesque on the First Wednesday of every Month

Sept 6 -Summer's End Celebration

Oct 4 - 8-year Dames TRiPTease Anniversary Show

Future dates: Nov 1 and Dec 6

Live Preshow Music 8:30pm by: Lounge-O-Rama, THEN Band & Burlesque 10pm by: The Dollface Dames at TRiP, 2101 Lincoln Blvd. Santa Monica, CA

$5 COVER *Tips appreciated*


TRiPTease Burlesque - EVERY Wednesday!

See the legend, Lola Boutée herself, host burlesque performers from all over the world with a rotating cast of dancers, comedians, specialty acts, & surprise guests. There is a reason this show has been going strong for almost 8 years, but be warned, you might become addicted. There are over 100 rotating performers featured in the shows at TRiPTease, 2101 Lincoln Blvd. Santa Monica, CA with Live Music Preshow 8:30pm | Burlesque 10pm

$5 COVER *Tips appreciated*
More details at: TRiPTease Burlesque

Freaky FUNhouse Burlesque
An after-dark immersive experience transforming an intimate bar into our tempting playground. Let us distort your perceptions and excite your senses in this cozy interactive experience. It's a wild, crazy, and freaky, ultimate party where you can get your freak on with the Dames at The Bar B Que Bar, 10863 Magnolia Blvd. North Hollywood, CA 91601 on Friday, Sept 15. Pre-party 9pm/First Show Starts at 9:30pm

Ticket Packages available: $10-$50 *Tips appreciated*


Britannia Burlesque - EVERY MONDAY

This weekly show is very interactive, think theater-in-the-round but in a bar, with girls on the fireplace, slinking down the staircase, or on the bar. This night is definitely fun with a full bar and food served until 10pm. Get there early for the best seats and enjoy 3 shows a night starring your favorite Dames at THE Monday night hot spot! This is our most casual show where we work out new numbers and new girls into the act. In November, we will be celebrating our 5th anniversary at The Britannia Pub, 318 Santa Monica Blvd. SM, CA 90401

Burlesque 9:30/10:30/11:30pm.

*Tips appreciated*

Karma Burlesque - The 1st and last THURSDAY of every month
Aug 31 - Sept 7 - Sept 28 at 10pm

For over 3 years The Dollface Dames have been bringing burlesque to this underground LA hot-spot twice a month! Whether you want to grab your own VIP table or grab a seat at the bar, you're in for an amazing night as our talented group of ladies perform on stage and move through the venue for an up close and personal show at the Karma Lounge - The Gem, 3954 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles 90004

21+ Full Bar & Kitchen

For more information please visit:

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