How do I look? Miss Behave, Burlesque comedian, 33


People say I'm like a cross between a drag queen and Betty Boop on acid. But there are two of me. On stage, I go for the most constraining, restrictive materials I can find. Off stage, I like the big black hoody my ex gave me, comfortable fabrics, silks and crepes. But as with everything, attention to detail is all-important.

I need to look completely OTT without wandering into the ridiculous. That's achieved by a careful combination of fabric and attitude. Rubber is fabulous so long as it's worn with a sense of couture and fun. Without that, you risk entering the realm of angry dominatrix or straightforward drag queen.

I started life in fetish clubs and moved to freakshows as a sword-swallower. So I learnt to apply make-up from the best: drag queens. The secret is to treat your face like a blank canvas. On stage, I'm extreme, but off stage it's just mascara and eyebrows. I can't get to grips with all the skincare products on the market, so my routine isn't as good as it could be; the trick is to know how to disguise that.

I bunked off school to get my first tattoo at the age of 13. I changed out of my uniform in the street and waited for the tattoo parlour to open; naturally I went for a rose on my arm. Now I have nine tattoos, including a large abstract one on my head. I was 17, and an angry teenager was emerging. I have one piercing, too, but I'm not sure I should say where it is.

In my teens, I was all black clothes, punky blonde hair and tattoos. But we change. If you walk on to a stage all tattoos blazing, you're defining yourself as a particular thing. I got bored of that, of making people go: 'Argh!' I made my act more about comedy, about entertainment rather than freaking people out. So now, I'm selective about what I choose to display.

Rubber and lube is a girl's best friend. I had to slither into this rubber number. I designed it myself. It's pinstripe with a pop; a wasp with a dash of city slicker. The secret of rubber is that it looks terrible on skinny girls. Curvy girls do it far better. When you work on stage you have to be aware of your body, to know it in the same way that you know yourself – whatever you choose to do with it.

Miss Behave hosts 'The Crack' at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, 5-29 August. Box office 0131 623 3030; assemblyfestival.com

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