Back in 2015 I had the absolute pleasure of meeting the burlesque legend Tempest Storm!
Born Annie Blanche Banks, a sharecropper’s daughter, to Tempest Storm the ‘Tempest in a D Cup’. She’s certainly come a long way from Eastman, Georgia USA.
Back in early 2015, it was announced that she was going to be the guest star at Burlesque Noir at the Blackpool Tower Ballroom later in the year. A couple of months later it was announced that she was going to be doing an interview/talk at the Hilton hotel the day afterwards. So I quickly ran to my laptop (on two occasions) and bought myself VIP tickets, and my Tea with Tempest ticket. Little did I realise I had to work up the courage to actually talk to her when I came face to face with the legend!
Fast forwarding to the night. I was in line, waiting to shake her hand, and say what I wanted to say. My nerves really set in when I could actually see her as I edged ever closer to the front of the line. Even then, at 87, she looked fantastic!
Finally, my turn to say hello. “Hi, I’m Min-fhsinghi… I’m a really big-hdohnid” I couldn’t talk! Nerves had well and truly taken over! Luckily one of my friends (and burlesque instructor) Diamond Teese was there to help me, explained who I was, and why I was being so weird!
A couple of hours later, and a few Disaronno’s later, the show was in full swing. Brilliant performers had graced the stage. But then came the moment!
Tempest shimmied on stage, wiggling her hips to Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Don’t Stop’. She just let the music take her! The audience went wild. I’ve never heard so many people roar in appreciation for one woman. Unfortunately, due to a hip injury in 2010, she was unable to perform, but that didn’t matter at all. She lit up the stage just by being there.
She started telling stories about Elvis Presley, and John. F Kennedy, as well as telling us about her performance at the great Carnegie Hall in New York.
The night itself was spectacular, afterwards I went to the Hilton for a couple of drinks with people I had met at the show.
When I decided to call it a night, I walked down to the lobby. I had to do a double take! There, on her own, waiting for her manager, was Tempest Storm herself! Still looking great at 2am! (Seriously, how is she doing that?! Even I looked terrible then!) I decided to rectify the nerve problem I had earlier in the night, and go up to talk to her. She was so kind! I explained that nerves took over and unfortunately the photo I had with her was fuzzy and asked if I could get another. I thanked her for everything she has done in the burlesque community along with thanking her for coming to England to meet fans here.
I’m almost certain, somewhere in the Hilton’s CCTV footage archive, there’s a clip of me at the entrance doing a happy dance and walking off to my hotel.
The following day, it was time for Tea with Tempest. I ran over to the Hilton and got the best spot I could. Once the room was full, Neil Kendall announced that Tempest was arriving. Everybody stood up and started to applaud until she reached her seat.
Once comfortable, Neil Kendall started the interview. We heard more about ‘Elvis the Pelvis’ and the time he ripped his trousers on a fence just to get to her bedroom.
WildVixen had the funniest question, “Who was the better lover, Elvis or JFK?” The room fell silent, we didn’t expect this response “Well, he’s still the King”. I swear a few people almost spat their drinks out trying not to laugh! Everybody was in hysterics, even Tempest.
We heard a few JFK stories, her time performing in the 50’s and 60’s, a very traumatic past which brought a tear to my eye, her life now, backstage with Lili St Cyr, amongst a great many other topics.
Throughout it all she was so polite and wonderful. Her main advise to any young performer was “Don’t drink, don’t do drug’s, and don’t smoke! Get high on life.”
After the Q&A she signed photos, or books. I took my copy of Burlesque Bible and my print from Tony Heath. Once I was in the chair next to her, I asked her “Who has been the person you’ve been most awestruck or rendered speechless by?” I thought it was an apt question after making a fool of myself the night before. She stopped for a second to think “Hmm, definitely Elvis Presley!”
I had a hug from her, and then went on my merry way talking to other performers in the room, looking at old Tempest merchandise that Neil Kendall had bought with him, and thanking Raven Noir for organising such a brilliant couple of days.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget that! I still have the photos on my wall.
I hope to write more about Tempest in the future.
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