Maude Davey created an autobiographical retrospective of her burlesque acts as a final curtain call for her days of performing semi-naked. After 25-plus years, she figured it was time to hang up her pasties and hang on to her clothes. But, as often happens with live theatre, it didn’t quite turn out the way she planned.
‘I made My Life in the Nude in the year I turned 50, which was 2013. It was going to be the last time I did the act, but I kept getting booked to do it,’ she laughs.
It took another five years for her to finally retire the show, which was lucky as it provided her with an unlikely career highlight. Maude has toured her own shows internationally, sold out performances in Edinburgh, been a support act for singer-songwriter Grace Jones and acted on TV shows such as The Slap. Yet, performing My Life in the Nude in a rundown theatre in Tasmania stands out as her favourite performance.
‘The venue was just so run down and uncared for and I put up my beautiful red curtains on old pieces of PVC pipe and made it look as beautiful as possible. But that night was one of the best performances I've ever done in my life. The audience was absolutely on side, I completely smashed it; they all laughed, they cried, I was on fire. You just live for that - for that performance.’
In Maude’s first show for the Victorian Seniors Festival, she’s looking forward to performing, fully clothed, to an older age group.
‘You don't stop “becoming” just because you're old. You're not stuck. We're still forming our own identities in a changing world. Performance is one way in which we experiment with different ways of being in the world. Hopefully, if I give anything to people through performance, it's a kind of modelling, but also experimenting with how to be, how to conceive of yourself, providing different ideas about who we are, and what's possible for us.’
Watch Maude's 2020 Victorian Seniors Festival reimagined performance.