Why Juliette Burton thinks she is going to explode while performing on stage

Juliette Burton taking a selfie at the weekend

Juliette Burton doing a selfie in a dressing room this weekend


Can this woman be turned into a man? (Photograph by Helena G Anderson)

Can this woman be turned into a man? (Photograph by Helena G Anderson)

Four days ago, I posted a blog chat with performer Juliette Burton and, at the bottom put … TO BE CONTINUED…

This was rather scuppered by my iPhone throwing a wobbly and losing the recording of our chat but now, through the wonderful free help of Apple, the recording has re-appeared.

So today I was going to post the second part of our chat about her new show Look At Me and about the two performances of her current When I Grow Up show at Leicester Square Theatre this Tuesday and Wednesday before she tours it in Australia February-May.

But then I woke up this morning to an e-mail from Juliette sent at 1.20am.

She prepares her shows in depth.

Last year at the Edinburgh Fringe, When I Grow Up involved – in addition to the show itself – a pop record, a pop video, a performance at the T In The Park rock festival, pre-filming of show inserts and interviews, YouTube clips and much else.

This year, Look At Me will involve another pop song, another pop video, more extensive pre-filming, YouTube clips and (read my last blog for details) nudity, prosthetics and Juliette being turned into a man and wearing the hijab in an Ann Summers shop.

So the e-mail from her this morning came as no surprise:

Juliette being made up for her photoshoot yesterday

Juliette’s 11-hour photoshoot yesterday (Photograph by Helena G Anderson)

I did an 11 HOUR photoshoot today (Sunday) – an incredible stop motion project that will show not only the transformation of a “normal woman” from “normal” to “glam” with hair, make up, clothing, lighting, stance, confidence and Photoshop but also the transformation of a “normal” room into a photo studio and telling the story of the whole team of people behind it all.

We also filmed a behind-the-scenes documentary about the day… which proved to be eventful.

The photoshoot in the large, cold west wing of a stately home suddenly came to a halt when the power all cut out. We had 2 photographers, 2 make up artists and a cameraman all there with me with heaps of equipment and no other day to do it before we leave for Australia…

We were told the power wouldn’t be back on until “teatime” (which turned out to be 6.00pm). This was at around midday after 3 hours of prep and rehearsals already.

We had NO heating whatsoever and I was sat still for around 7 hours straight… I was blue. We couldn’t even boil a kettle for a cup of tea!

I’m amazed we did it. But the end pics look so glamorous.

We began at 9.30am. We finished at 8.30pm. I am still up (1.20am). I have a 5.00am start, ready for two shows and two Q&As, one evening meeting and then, on Tuesday and Wednesday, the full-on London performances.

Of such things are Edinburgh Fringe shows made.

The second half of the chat I had with Juliette was going to be this:

“I’ve already got the Powerpoint show being designed for the Edinburgh Fringe show,” she told me.

Look at Me,” I said, “is about the extent to which people are treated according to their external appearance. At various times, you were a size 4 from anorexia and a size 20 from compulsive overeating. Are you doing this new show because you yourself changed from a more full-bodied person to a svelte swan-like person yourself? Is it some form of catharsis?”

Can this woman be turned into a man?

The current shape of things for Juliette (Photograph by Helena G Anderson)

“Well,” said Juliette, “I guess the experience of being that ill and that thin with anorexia… The way people reacted to me was very different from the way people reacted to me when I was very overweight… I’m interested in the idea of whether that was because of their preconceptions of the way I looked or because of the way I felt about myself inside.

“One of the main reasons I’m doing this show is because of my last Edinburgh Fringe show When I Grow Up. Every time I perform When I Grow Up, some people come up to me afterwards and open up about their own mental health experiences, but some others will say Oh, how long has it been since you’ve recovered? and I would like to be able to stand on stage and say: Actually, I still struggle every day with eating disorders, but I don’t let them win any more. I put up a bigger fight.

“When I’m standing on stage and I’m really, really stressed, my body dysmorphic disorder kicks in really badly. Sometimes I’ll be standing on stage doing a really uplifting part of the show and I will be saying how wonderful life is, but this minx on my shoulder – this body dysmorphic disorder – is telling me: Can you feel how fat you are getting?… Your legs are inflating. Your arms are inflating. Your dress is about to burst off because you are so fat. 

Juliette at BBC Scotland last week

Juliette at BBC Scotland last week. Now she is off to Australia.

And that experience when I’m performing is very real to me. I would love to be able to address it, but also to be able to open it out and be able to make it accessible to other people. Because everybody has a relationship with their outward appearance. I’m sure you do, John. How do you feel about how you look?”

“I’m too old,” I replied. “There came a sudden point when I would see my reflection in a shop window and would think That isn’t me. That’s some seedy, overweight bank manager. Now, when I’m shaving or whatever and catch my eyes in the bathroom mirror, I think: Those are not my eyes. Now I am some seedy old ex-bank manager bloke wandering around with eyes that are not even mine.”

That is the thing about blogs, isn’t it?

It is just all Me, Me, Me…

There is a video on YouTube promoting Juliette’s new show Look At Me.

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Filed under Comedy, Psychology

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