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UNDER HER SPIEL Secrets of a showgirl

Under Her Spiel is a new Fringe World show that offers audiences a chance to take a seat and be taken on a journey through the eyes of a showgirl, in a titillating tale that unravels into an expose beyond the wildest of fantasies. It has been described as a visual feast of international and local talents, and will run nightly from Friday, January 22 until Sunday, January 24 at Astor Theatre. MICHAEL HOLLICK caught up with showgirl Olivia Cullinane who shared her Top 5 Secrets of a Showgirl, along with some other tantalising details about the show. For more info and to buy tickets head to

Your show alludes to the audience being taken on a journey through the eyes of a showgirl. What are five secrets of a showgirl the audience will discover?

  1. Showgirls need to be well trained. Ballet is the foundation of all dance, and we are so lucky to have our Bejart trained ballerina Lauren Limmer back in Perth after working in Germany for the last seven years performing several acts in the show.
  2. Showgirls sometimes show their boobs! In showgirl world boobs mean status, and they are not meant to be sexy, they are but a small elegant accessory to be jewelled and admired.
  3. Showgirls need to be able to deal with conflict. No one in the entertainment business gets to where they are by being shrinking violets, so come find out how our Femme Queen Santana Diamond, and Drag Queen Danisa Snake settle beef with another in a fierce vogue battle.
  4. A showgirl’s work goes beyond the stage. Particularly with everything that has happened last year, it is important to learn how to leverage fame and audiences for causes bigger than our own. We are so proud of Milo Hartill who is prepared to bare her soul taking on the spiel and glamour of one of the most revered, intelligent and influential showgirls, of the world, a brave and diverse performer of colour, the totally bananas Josephine Baker.
  5. A showgirl must be resilient. It’s a crazy, harsh, unpredictable world out there full of obstacles, insults, injuries, judgement and rejection, but showgirls are chameleons and we will continue to adapt ourselves, our acts and our assets in these strange times to always give the audience what they burn for.

So how do all those elements come together in the show? How would you describe it as a whole?

Under Her Spiel is a visual feast of international and local talents hand-woven into a tantalising tapestry of desire.

What is the target audience for Under Her Spiel?

We believe our show will appeal to anyone from aged from 18 to 118 as it is rich with nods to acts that have influenced the entertainment industry, but executed in a fresh way.

How long have you been preparing for Fringe 2021?

Over my 15 year career performing overseas I have been accumulating choreographies and concepts that have been gestating since I was a child. I decided to register for Fringe in October 2019 as the timing was working out with so many international performers being forced back to Perth due to COVID.

Some of the costumes I have collected over my years performing, and I have created many new costumes specifically for the acts in the show.

And now that the show is almost underway, what are you most proud about?

The cast being so open to put their heart into their acts. The performers that move me the most are the ones who are connected to the material they are performing, and have the ability to execute the technique to a world class standard. I am so proud of the artists in our show and having the opportunity to present the acts to Perth.

What do you think differentiates your show from the other Fringe 2021 shows?

The calibre of talent, as well as the format of the acts being interspersed with anecdotes from some of the performers’ experiences in the industry. We have a range of talent from professional ballerinas, Moulin Rouge dancers, Perth’s only ball queen and vogue battle, world champion pole dancer, acrobats, contortionists and singers.

We’re also so excited to be in the Astor Theatre, and with COVID capacity restrictions it means we have ample space to have both cabaret table seating as well as regular theatre seating in comfortable movie theatre chairs and air conditioning.

And finally, what fruit is your show most like? And why?

Bananas, because we have an act inspired by Josephine Baker who impacted her audiences wearing nothing but a skirt made of bananas. The audience might not think a skirt made of bananas and dancing a Charleston would be the type of act to influence entertainment decades later, but once they saw it, they loved it, which is like our show. Audiences might not understand at first how ballerinas, showgirls, acrobats, drag performers, and vogue dancers will fit together, but through the journey of our show, it will all become clear.

Josephine Baker is a huge influence on the show, as she was someone who knew how to leverage her fame and audiences for causes bigger than her own. We want to put representation on stage of performers with different body types, race, gender identity, upbringing, and hopefully plant seeds for change for a more inclusive and accepting future.

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