Bustles & Bruxelles! Council worker Tony's alter ego as burlesque compere.
BY day he's a mildmannered council worker. But by night, Tony Cowdrill changes character - and surrounds himself with sequins, feathers and scantily-clad women.
He even changes nationality.
Meet Jacques Bruxelles, a compere of burlesque shows who bills himself as 'Belgium's top light entertainer'.
Jacques will be compering the Birmingham Comedy Festival's wrap party next weekend.
Tony became fascinated with burlesque three years ago, a world which couldn't be more different from his day job in Birmingham City Council's Appointee and Court Deputy Service.
He helps to manage the fi-nances of people with mental health problems and makes sure their bills are paid.
Tony, 49, explained: "I went to my first burlesque show on my birthday in 2009. It was by the Birmingham-based group Enchanted Burlesque, then at the Flapper pub.
They've gone a bit more upmarket since and perform at the Old Rep.
"I wasn't sure if it would be my thing but I really enjoyed it. I started going to other shows and befriending the performers, who said I should get involved.
"I've always had the most crippling stage fright, but I thought it might help if I pretended to be someone else. "I mulled over what persona to have and thought 'Why not make him Belgian?'. That means he already has a chip on his shoulder. He introduces himself as the 'compere beyond compare'.
"I did my first burlesque gig as a compere in August 2010 in Northampton. I reasoned my way through it by thinking 'if it's a complete disaster, I've lost nothing'.
"People hadn't gone there to see me, I just filled in the bits when they were changing clothes, telling jokes and getting the audience enthused about the show.
Talent "But it went well and has continued to do so. I do about three shows a month.
"Burlesque performers are exceptionally talented.
"It's a very old art form, based around strip tease, but where it's more about the tease than the strip."
Tony, from Deritend, has even had a go himself at stripping in a tasteful way.
"I do a tribute to Two-Face, the Batman villain, performed to It's Oh So Quiet by Bjork. Half of me is normal as clean-cut Harvey Dent, but I spin round and the other half is Two-Face who wants to be a party animal and get his clothes off. I strip to my gold and fuchsia Lycra shorts.
"I also do a fan dance with a different. I don't take my clothes off and use fans with battery-operated LED lights."
The Birmingham Comedy Festival wrap party on Sunday October 13 is eight hours of entertainment at The Roadhouse in Stirchley, featuring stand-up comedy and music as well as burlesque from the likes of Khandie Khisses and The Angel De-Lites.
'COMPERE BEYOND COMPARE': Council worker Tony Cowdrill and as Jacques Bruxelles, above.
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|Publication:||Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)|
|Date:||Oct 6, 2013|
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