The Burlesque Performer Encouraging Colourful Compassion
Purrsia Kitt is one of those rare artists who bewitches audiences just by her presence. Powerful, provocative, composed and mesmerizing are just a few ways to describe the acts and essence she exudes both on and off stage. As the producer of ‘Fetlesque’ - a night showcasing exceptional talent on the UK burlesque and drag scene - Purrsia continually prioritises the representation of her LGBTQ+ community. This reflects Purrsia’s commitment to building spaces for her community to shine, as well the support she fosters for fellow artists on their individual journeys.
Alongside her work on stage and screen (Purrsia has a gorgeous modeling portfolio of sassyness), she is also committed to her activism in raising awareness of hidden disabilities and supporting those who, like her, have multiple access needs. We had the privilege of interviewing Purrsia about the work she does and her passion for nurturing community spirit. As well as publishing a very special photoshoot Purrsia produced, featured in this article, spotlighting an array of talented individuals.
Read on or listen to the interview and get to know Purrsia’s story and see beautiful images of fabulous individuals she shares community with including Mx Romeo De La Cruz, Adhiambo Gwengwalchen, Monsiuer Cookie, Loxx Blaxx, Lady Blue Phoenix, Ebony, Jay X, Porscha Present, Bolly Ditz Dolly and Jada Love.
Purrsia’s Pride Photoshoot
"I look at these pictures and get overwhelmed by how incredible each and every one of these people are and what they bring - their light, their power, their talent! I'm here for that kind of representation to be seen and documented and archived". For Purrsia they tell us how this shoot was made possible by having "a good community to bring this kind of project alive, and a good photographer". She worked with Jessica Yupele to capture candid moments and the magic of the people involved.
This shoot is about people who are artists and have so many different talents...coming together and sharing their art, not by performing but by existing
“This shoot is about people who are artists and have so many different talents - writers, poets, historians, speakers, educators, sex workers, burlesque artists, drag artists. Maybe all of those things in one." Purrsia tells us how it was about “coming together and sharing their art, not by performing but by existing. Each person wore a different colour from the progressive pride flag and the final result is full of celebratory joy, giggles, passion and brilliance.”
Queer Identity and the Importance of Community
Having come out when she was 17, Purrsia tells us "I've been out now for 20 years. We didn't have that representation when I was a young person. It was more about finding community in the clubs and I loved it at the time, but I felt like that was all I had if I wanted to be myself.” She explains how “I wanted to be myself in the daytime. There was no Tiktok etc. We had MySpace and MSN messenger back in the day. We had dating websites where you could try and make friends but you were navigating so many different complex spaces (and layers). I feel like it was quite hard, I didn't have community in the way I wanted to".
Community is really important for so many different reasons but especially for feeling safe, feeling seen, feeling loved
“Community is really important for so many different reasons but especially for feeling safe, feeling seen, feeling loved and also, when you have the capacity, to show up for people, share and support their work in any way that you can". Purrsia explains how there's so much we can do to support one another beyond money. "If you've got the money, spend that coin! Even £20. You don't realise how much that can do for somebody who's trying to raise money to get gender affirming surgery or therapy (and many other life saving things). If a hundred people were able to give that person £20 it's a big difference and those things can happen by showing up, speaking up, and amplifying people’s [voices].” They encourage people to have “the understanding and compassion that you know you'd want people to have for you"
Growing Up and Having The Confidence to Perform
When connected to the body Purrsia tells us "I'm able to be my authentic self. When I'm in my head, I'm in my way. I feel safe in my body and that's something everyone deserves to feel, especially as queer people!". Being able to connect to her body through performance is something Purrsia remembers being life saving when she was a child "There've been some heavy things I've been through in my life and I know that creativity, music, dancing and writing were lifesaving for me, since I was a child". Purrsia shares how, when she was younger her aspiration was to be a spoken word artist. However, "to this day I haven't overcome my fear of speaking on the mic in front of a lot of people. It will happen eventually. I know it will because I never thought I'd be able to perform on stage." The nerves she feels before going on stage is something Purrsia has linked to sensory overload. "The lights are a big thing for me, and I can't cope with anything flashing - it's way too much, I'll just stand there and forget everything." This is something Purrsia has learnt overtime to express in tech specs prior to performances.
When I'm in my head, I'm in my way. I feel safe in my body and that's something everyone deserves to feel, especially as queer people!
Looking back to her childhood, Purrsia shares a memory of repeatedly watching a live music performance of Luther Vandross at Wembley on video, admiring the two backing singers/dancers - Lisa Fisher and Ava Cherry. "I was obsessed with them. They had these beautiful sequin rhinestone gowns, they were stunning, big hair, beautiful makeup. I could not believe a human could be so beautiful. I would study them and copy their movements. Baring in mind I was 5. It was like a special interest, something I loved doing that regulated me, made me feel myself". This influence led Purrsia to consider how she could also do something like that on a stage. “I didn't make that connection though until a couple of years ago…[but I guess] I manifested it in some way”, she tells us laughing.
Purrsia’s Burlesque Journey
Getting into Burlesque was something Purrsia feels was aligned with the person she was becoming rather than an intensional decision. "I've always loved expressing myself and dancing. I was turning 30 and I booked a burlesque/pole session for my friends to have fun." Purrsia didn't know about the industry she was about to step into and was surprised to find out you could start performing at a later stage in life. From there, she took burlesque classes and ended the training with a showcase performance which led her to get booked for events and parties. With the growth of Purrsia's artist career coinciding with the hidden disabilities she lives with, Purrsia tells us how "I've got different things that happen with my body, and I know what my strengths and limitations are. My dream is to be able to get into a split - I'm manifesting it!”
Some people are really good at being mindful of access and some people don't even ask.. and I just feel like it's unacceptable
When it comes to access needs, Purrsia tells us how "some people are really good at being mindful of access and some people don't even ask... and I just feel like it's unacceptable.” Purrsia tells us how “It's the mental energy of having that conversation. I already have to go through things knowing I've got multiple disabilities that are all invisible. I understand I have a massive privilege in how my body does work on a day like today. But it's not like this every day." In general, Purrsia finds people are less compassionate "unless they've had a similar lived experience. It's quite a difficult conversation to have and I can start to talk [my needs] down". Recognising the lack of awareness and people’s ignorance of what her sunflower badge means (representing hidden disabilities) leads to many challenges. Having worked in schools, colleges and care homes in different capacities, as well as educating and supporting the awareness around ableism and neurodiversity, Purrsia is an advocate for passing the mic "especially when it comes to race and disabilities, I'm so tired of people taking up space in these conversations that should not be speaking as much as they are".
Get to know more about the Sunflower Badge here
It’s with admiration that we continue to watch Purrsia’s work unfold. Bringing bright brilliance to the stage and actively working to help others who experience barriers regarding accessibility and inclusivity on a day-to-day basis. Keep your eyes open and continue to learn from what Purrsia has to share.
To end our interview, we asked Purrsia a few quickfire questions. Read on to get a sense of the beautiful, warm character this powerful individual exudes:
Best thing about being you?
My capacity to love others. It's huge and I have inherited it from having the kind of Mum I have and my late Grandma. Caring and nurturing.
Favourite act to perform?
I'm loving sex magic - it's about tapping into your divine frequency and knowing who your are, not letting people play you or take the piss. It's also about manifestations and using the power of sex magic, the power of the orgasm and energy exchanges.
What does your Sassy side look like?
Is it a side? I think it's always there! Haha. It looks like me being who I am standing in my truth no matter where I am or what's going on.
Purrsia's Podcast tracklist:
Song 1) Disco Housewife - Kumari Suraj
Song 2) True Honey Buns - Bahamadia
Song 3) 4 Page Letter - Aaliyah
Song 4) Weak - SWV
Song 5) You're Always On My Mind - SWV
Check out the full photoshoot over on @_thesassyshow Instagram page
Portraits by Jessica Yupele, @sayhellojess_
Interview by Bethany Burgoyne @bxsassy2
@undilutedebony representing pink
@_romeo_de_la_cruz_ representing red
@jada_love_the_performer representing green
@loxxblaxx representing orange
@porschaspresent representing yellow
@lady.blue.phoenix representing white
@monsiuerc_97 representing white
@bollyditz.dolly representing brown
@adhiambogwengwalchen representing violet
@purrsiakitt representing blue