By day she runs an auto air conditioning repair business - by night she practises classical strip tease.

Tauranga's Kirsty Carter, aka Emjay Lacy, is a burlesque dancer about to take her flamboyant skills on to the national stage for the first time.

Flourishing a 2.3m ostrich feather boa, she aims to wow the judges and audience at the finals of The Grand Tease Supreme Award in Christchurch next Saturday.

''It is almost as much about what you don't reveal as what you do.''


Burlesque was a natural progression for Carter who has been dancing since age 5.

''You want to take the audience on a journey - building tension and intensity.''

She also planned to bring the rich history of burlesque to Tauranga in a show designed to boost local interest in the art form.

Carter was introduced to burlesque by a friend and immediately fell in love with the creative process that lay behind peeling off layers of clothing.

''There are quite technical elements. I'm still learning after almost a year. It is about discovering yourself, how your body moves and what feels right.''

Better known for being an accomplished pole dancer, burlesque entered her life last year as she was getting back into training after a neck injury.

''I wanted to get back on to the stage and burlesque was a bit easier on the body. What girl doesn't like to dress up.''

Burlesque performer Kirsty Carter. Photo/Andrew Warner.
Burlesque performer Kirsty Carter. Photo/Andrew Warner.

The final ''reveal" at the culmination of a classical burlesque tease dance did not involve full nudity. In keeping with tradition, she was left with small pasties covering the vital parts of her anatomy.


When she wasn't dancing, Carter and her husband owned and ran Forestaire Tauranga, a transport refrigeration and auto air conditioning repair business.

She said the crew at Forestaire were in on the routines because her husband was always making bits and pieces of props in the workshop.

''They are really supportive.''

Carter was the wild card entry for the nationals after winning the best costume prize and dazzling dance award in the Hamilton heats.

''I was really honoured the judges picked me to go through.''

The nationals will see her perform a classical routine followed by the more character-driven neo-burlesque act where no limits were placed on the artist's creativity. She would be doing a pirate-themed act, with lots of thought going into costume design and choreography.

''There is a freedom to create.''

World-renown Kiwi burlesque dancers Bonita Danger Doll and Ruby Ruin were behind The Grand Tease.

Carter said she loved the friendly community and fun that was burlesque in New Zealand.

''The girls are really close.''

She intends bringing burlesque to Tauranga to boost its low profile.

''Sadly it is not a vibrant scene here.''

A show involving dancers from around New Zealand was booked for December 15 at the Totara St performing arts centre.

Carter was an accomplished dancer in many genres and spent five years based in Sydney as a commercial dancer. Her contact is @emjaylacy_dancer

Burlesque dancing
• Traces back to 1830s Victorian England
• Flourished in America, peaking in 1930s
• Neo-burlesque revival from the early 1990s