a picture of a can can girl
Le Frou-Frou by Lucien Henri Weil

A few years ago I was asked to write a short story with a burlesque theme for Indigo Dance magazine. It was for their February issue, so with Valentine's Day in mind I decided to write about love - no surprises there! But instead of opting for romantic love (which admittedly is what February 14th is meant to be about) I ended up writing about a different kind of love altogether. The result was L'Amour.

Now I have to admit that I don't know a great deal about burlesque, so I took as my inspiration that classic print of a French showgirl used to advertise Le Frou-Frou - a slightly risqué French magazine from the early 1900s. The artist is Lucien Henri Weil WEILUC (1873-1947) and I've loved this poster since I first saw it in a Délifrance café in Hong Kong twenty years ago (coincidentally, it's the logo for the Patisserie Valerie chain of cafés here in the UK). There's just something so decadent about the curling cigarette smoke, the woman's frothy white petticoats - which you can almost hear rustling - and her black-stockinged legs.

In my story, the can-can dancer from the picture talks to a woman who has gone along to a burlesque class - advising her on love and the art of seduction. It's a light-hearted story but its message about the importance of loving yourself seemed to strike a chord with a lot of readers.