Melbourne’s gothic queen of burlesque reunites with her “unholy trinity of fatale feministas” for a greatest-hits edition of the Glory Box
Moira Finucane bares her teeth at her audience, glaring down at them in scant white lingerie and neck-breaking high heels. She’s lip-synching to the growling voice of a female punk singer, throwing purposefully graceless high kicks and whipping her wild dark hair. We’re not sure what she’s about to do with the cartons of milk in her hands, and we dare not look away.
It’s been ten years since Finucane – along with theatre-maker Jackie Smith – first took burlesque by the throat, rallied subversive artists to her cause and set out to awaken audiences with daring performance art.
Moira, the Glory Box began as the Burlesque Hour back in 2004. How much has it changed over the years?
The Glory Box has become the apex predator of my life. The show has changed and grown wilder and bigger, but it all comes back to that same beautiful, provocative variety format. The one word that comes up wherever we go is freedom; that incredible, chest-expanding response to freedom.
Is this freedom a liberation from the confines of sexuality and gender?
Yes, it’s sensual, it’s intellectual and it’s emotional, but the joy that people feel is not about us being sexy on stage. The freedom is an unleashing of humanity – a celebration of love and desire and vulnerability and rawness. A man came up to me in Edinburgh and said, “I never knew what it was like to be in love”.
You’ve toured the Glory Box over 70 times internationally. How do audience reactions change from place to place?
In every culture there’s a connection between the creatures on stage and their own myths and wild symbolic culture. In Sweden they went, “Oh, you’re like the snow queen!” and then we were in Hong Kong and they said, “You’re like a dragon in New Year!”
How do you know when you’ve found an artist worthy to join the Glory Box?
When the hair stands up on the back of my neck I know I’ve found the artist. I found one woman in a club in Brighton [in the UK]. It was sleeting. The lights went out. The sound went off. And she was still riveting. Her smoky voice, like a fog, rolled over the audience, and she just kept going. I just stopped in my tracks and thought: what is that in the dark? She is going to join us and her name is Saint Clare.
For the tenth anniversary tour, you’re reuniting with Glory Box stars Azaria Universe and Yumi Umiumare. How did that come about?
We were the core three: the wild, the gothic, the unbelievably sultry sirens. Azaria had a family and moved countries, but she said, “When it turns ten I will be there, dressed in nothing but my pearls and high heels”.
Are there any surprises in store for us?
One of the things that I’m really excited about is tracking back through ten years and finding our favourites; the ones that made the audience start screaming halfway through. And then of course there will be some wild new surprises, including a piece that we made in Brazil… a human hot rod!