Meet Adelaide’s Café Owning, Fire Breathing, Burlesque Babe

Burlesque Babe
Photos: Taygan Bass

Meet the head-turning mum who twirls flaming tassels with her butt cheeks.

Just Abby (aka burlesque and sideshow performer Leopard Lass) grew up in Port Adelaide.

“It was (and still is) a gritty place with an eye-opening mix of people from all socio-economic backgrounds, interspersed with a rich stream of talented artists,” she says.

“As a young girl, I remember wanting to be a mum, a man and a prostitute. The heart of a feminist beat inside from early on!”

“You can’t create a storm and then get mad when it rains.”

Keep your eyes peeled for Abby next time you’re in Semaphore. The creative vixen runs The Corner Store On Sempahore café with her equally saucy mother (and best friend) Julie.

“She taught me about following dreams and working hard. I still run all my ideas past her. She’s part of my creative process and I wouldn’t be half the person I am without her.”

Abby stumbled across burlesque in 2012 when she was a stage hand for Sydney performer Silla Black, who produced the South Australian final of the Miss Burlesque Australia competition.

It wasn’t long before inspiration hit and self-taught Abby went on to compete. She honed her skills at Coney Island Sideshow School, the birthplace of traditional sideshow.

Five years on, she’s performed as Leopard Lass all over the globe, including in the US.

Burlesque Babe

Her costumes are impressive, but the most interesting reactions happen when she moves through the world as herself.

“I get questioned about my tattoos and lots of confused looks as people stare at the vacant space between my eyes and hairline, looking for eyebrows.

“I don’t blame people for pointing or making passing comments. There’s a lot to take in and I can understand how my aesthetic could be confronting.

“You can’t create a storm and then get mad when it rains.”

She hopes to inspire her three children – Pearl, Brock and Cornelius – to do anything they want.

“I hope to teach them about love and being loved. I hope to impart a respect and support for the arts. We stop for buskers in the street, will dance to their beat, and even if we don’t always have money to give, we always have time to say thank you for sharing their craft with us.”

There’s plenty of titillation to come.

“I’ve been invited to perform as a guest at the Ohio Burlesque Festival (USA) in August, followed by a tour of Japan in October.

“I’m also incredibly excited to begin work as a booking agent and events coordinator for a new venue in Adelaide, opening in spring… watch this space.”

Watch Leopard Lass I action (possibly NSFW).


Hair and make-up: Amanda Grace-Nash

Know a local eccentric we should feature? Let us know in the comments, below.

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