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The lights turn down at Houston’s Chapman & Kirby and a single spotlight appears. Inside the radiant ellipse is a raven-haired beauty, her back turned to the crowd, hips swaying sensually to ragtime. After a few moments teasing the audience, she reveals her glittering costume and with that, a stunning bodysuit of tattoos. From that moment, everyone in the room is transfixed by her serpentine movement and Emma Vauxdevil has her prey exactly where she wants them.

Vauxdevil discovered the art of burlesque and was seduced by its glamour while performing in nightclubs. “I actually started as a gogo dancer. I kept upping my skills and learning new things like hooping, fire dancing and eating, and aerial dance, until I eventually discovered burlesque,” Vauxdevil shares. “I worked as an ambient performer for a few years and  eventually tied in my skills to my numbers, which I think helps in standing out a little more.”

From the beginning of her career, Vauxdevil realized she has a talent for crafting seductive and complex burlesque routines, just by allowing a song to cajole her artistic intuition. “A lot of the time, inspiration for creating a number comes to my head immediately,” Vauxdevil says. “I can hear a song and a whole mood and act is in my head. I have an extremely visual mind, so I pretty much see the whole thing and I make it come to life, just improving on it during creation.”

Photo by Daniel Rodriguez

Photo by Daniel Rodriguez

As a true artist, Vauxdevil puts her entire being into her work and consistently strives to make each performance better than her last. “This might just be me, but the most challenging part is the pressure I put on myself for quality and persistence,” Vauxdevil says. “I don’t think I would rather a different way. It’s gotten me where I am today.” By giving every shimmy and sashay her all, Vauxdevil has found fulfillment in her quest for perfection. “The most rewarding part is when I can take a step back and look at what I’ve accomplished.”

Following in the footsteps of burlesque entertainers of the past, Vauxdevil has carefully crafted a stage persona which sets her apart and leaves a lasting impression on audiences. “I would describe Emma Vauxdevil as kind of spooky, a little bit of a troll, and probably pouty,” she says. Vauxdevil’s character is known not only for her flowing black locks and ghoulish yet glamorous getups—she’s often recognized for her striking tattoo collection. “I think they make me a little more witchy when I do my darker numbers, but I don’t base any of my stage aesthetic around them.I honestly don’t think about the fact I’m tattooed, it’s such an unrelated hobby to me. I know it’s strange to say, since my job is for people to look at my entire body.”