Burlesque. The word calls to mind a lovely lady shimmering and shaking her way out of a martini glass, a coy look twisting her lips upwards into a ghost of a smile. It’s glamorous. It’s beautiful. It’s entertainment. It’s also hard work!

When you think of the glamor and fun of a burlesque show, you might not think of all the hardwork and dedication that goes into a five minute performance by each and every performer on stage. Lord knows I didn’t when enjoying a pint and watching the talented ladies from the Tuesday Tease performance shake their money makers to a Prince anthology. All that glamor & sassiness was a product of not only the hard work of each and every performer but of the headmistress of the burlesque school under which a majority of them studied. Deb au Nare is a legend on the burlesque scene in Asheville and it’s no wonder. She’s a force to be reckoned with.

I have to admit, I had no idea what a burlesque headmistress would be like one-on-one. I expected some larger than life character, the likes of which could be found in the enormous stage presence I’d glimpsed from Madame Deb au Nare on stage before. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find a dedicated entrepreneur who was not only beautiful but incredibly business savvy. With a laid-back Florida style, complete with flip flops, this Jacksonville native projects a sweet confidence and easy-going nature that allowed me to relax instantly.

Deb au Nare’s burlesque school attracts a varied clientele and women everywhere from 18 to 65 have turned to her to learn how to shake their stuff in the sexy satire that is burlesque. It’s no wonder they come to her for classes. Featured on America’s Got Talent, with international performance credits under her belt, Deb au Nare has all the credentials of a seasoned professional and a welcoming attitude that calms the nerves of even the most timid dancers on the scene. Her dedication to her craft is especially impressive given she’s basically a one woman team, handling advertisement, social media accounts, dance classes, hosting performances, as well as having her own performances to prep and perform. Her day-to-day activities are enough to make the even most energetic people sweat and that’s just her business life.

So how did Asheville, North Carolina score such an awesome burlesque star? In 2007, our Deb au Nare was performing as a go-go dancer in a local gay club in Jacksonville, Florida, unaware that the term “burlesque” was applicable to her combination of strip-tease and lip syncing. After some fateful encounters opened her eyes to burlesque and with the encouragement of her drag mother, she started down the path that would change her life and entered into burlesque performing like a duck to water. She might never have made it up to her new mountain home were it not for a bad breakup that had her seeking a change of pace. Asheville was lucky enough to receive her and her talent and the rest, as they say, is history.

Year after year this young starlet produces, directs, and debuts lovely acts that provide entertainment to countless individuals but her modesty is perhaps the most charming quality about her. “There are many talented performers,” she said, smiling. “I’m happy to be able to do what I do.”  So are we, Ms. Deb au Nare! When asked where her ideas for shows came from, her answer was simple, “It starts with an element, a dress, a song. Something that sparks my interest.” If that isn’t an artist’s take on the world, I don’t know what is.

Now cemented into the culture of the San Francisco of the South, Deb au Nare is a treasure that many may appreciate but few really get to know beyond the stage. I feel quite privileged to have been given a glimpse behind the curtain.

If you want to catch Deb au Nare or one of her many talented pupils on stage, make sure to catch them in their Tuesday Tease at their new location at Trade & Lore Coffee in the heart of downtown Asheville or at her monthly Burlesque Graduation shows, the proceeds of which go to a scholarship fund for soon-to-be burlesque divas. If you’re feeling even braver, sign up for Deb au Nare’s classes with a new special section opening up soon for those who want to keep the dancing strictly in the boudoir. Trust me, you’ll be dancing like a pro in no time.