By Amber Dawn

In the world of neo-burlesque, there are a lot of new and creative names for the bedazzled beauties who perform this erotic art form, but there is only one "Ass That Goes POW"-Miss Michelle L'Amour. She was given this very appropriate nickname when she won the title of Miss Exotic World 2005 in Las Vegas.

Michelle lives and plies her peeling trade in Chicago, though her talent often takes her across the globe as well. She created the Lavender Cabaret and Femme TV, as well as a Burlesque Finishing School. In addition, she headlines Art of Tease workshops across the country. Michelle's advanced students perform weekly in Chicago as Star and Garter Burlesque.

Last summer, Michelle conquered network TV with an appearance on the primetime NBC competition America's Got Talent. She performed a tribute to Talent judge David Hasselhoff's classic 1980s series Knight Rider, featuring a special appearance by his talking-car co-star, K.I.T.T.

The Most Naked Woman is a new book of photographs featuring Michelle in various stages of naked allure. Ten different high-profile photographers contributed to this gorgeous volume.

Michelle opened up to about the many facets of erotic entertainment.

Tell us how you found yourself in the world of modern burlesque.

I started burlesque after college. I studied finance in college and hated it and really wanted to dance. I had been taking ballet and jazz for a couple of years, and that's what I really wanted to do. I met Franky [Vivid, her husband] towards the end of school, and he asked me to dance for his rock band. So after our first rock show, I decided that I was going to dance after I was done with school. Franky asked if I wanted to produce a burlesque show, and that's how it all started.

Were you nervous taking your clothes off in public for the first time?

Yes! The first show we did, I didn't even strip. I just did a solo in a thong, and I was flipping out for weeks beforehand. Then, once I did that, I realized that it was really fun. Finally I did my first striptease in February of '03. I had so much fun, and I knew that's what I wanted to do.

We should note that, although you take off your clothes for a living, you don't go "full nude" in your shows.

Correct. I do nudity in photos but not in the shows. It's not typically legal in the venues. Plus, it's all about the tease anyway.

That being said, tell us about The Most Naked Woman.

It's a book of photography of me. About ten different photographers contributed, Bunny Yeager being the most well known of the bunch. It's a different side of me that the public doesn't get to see very much. The book isn't about burlesque at all.

Bunny Yeager, wow! How did it feel to be photographed by one of the photographers who immortalized burlesque legends like Bettie Page? (Picture: - )

Well, it was a little nerve wracking at first, but then we shot for three hours.

It's great that she's still shooting gorgeous gals such as yourself.

Yes, for sure. I'm glad I had that experience.

So do you consider yourself, first and foremost, a dancer?

Hmmm, yes. Performer and entertainer, as well.

Before you got into dance in high school, you played the violin for many years. When will we get to see the fiddling stripper?

Oh, I definitely want to do a number like that! It's in the back of my head somewhere. Maybe it will come out one of these days.

A lot has been said about your conservative upbringing. Given that frame of reference, what female figures influenced the formation of your sexuality in your youth?

That's a good question, and it's one I always have a hard time answering. I didn't have an idol growing up; I didn't know anything about burlesque. I didn't feel pretty growing up, and I had to figure out how to feel sexy.

I actually spent a lot of time in the mirror naked and trying to put my body into shapes that I thought were appealing. Well, that certainly came in handy! I had a thought that if I didn't feel pretty in the face, at least I could have a nice body and know how to use it.

You credit Satan's Angel as your burlesque role model now. How did you come to know her?

I met her at Exotic World USA, and I just thought she was so much fun! She's been through a lot and is a great friend to me. My first time at Exotic World was in 2004, and I entered the [pasty] twirling contest. I thought, 'Why not? I never do it, but I'm here!' So she was judging and gave me a big thumbs down in the second round. She laughs at it now, because my tassels just kept going so fast; they never stopped! I had to work really hard, because I have a small chest. [Smiles]

Are there any other classic exotics that have influenced your style?

Gypsy Rose Lee, Sally Rand, and Lili St. Cyr are the big three.

Your job is to turn on the audience. What turns Michelle on?

What turns me on: intelligence, humor, and dirty talk.

What do you like watching onstage when you go to a show, say your prot?es at a Star and Garter show?

Well, I first and foremost want them to have fun. It's so important, because if the performer isn't having fun, then the audience isn't either. Beyond that, I like to see musicality, good dancing, nice costume, and originality.

You've said before that you can work with what you've got, as far as physical attributes are concerned in burlesque. Can you elaborate on that opinion?

You can highlight or downplay certain parts of your body with costume and body positions.

What can you tell us about your America's Got Talent experience? What prompted you to enter?

They kept sending me the audition notice, and so finally I gave up and went. I didn't respond to any of the notices until they were in Chicago. I pointed them to my website and asked if they actually understood what I did. They said, 'Yes,' and 'Come!' So I went and did Snow White, to the fullest. I did some interviews, and they called a month later. I was floored and very tickled about the whole thing.

You were absolutely radiant on the show. After all that prodding to get you on, how did you feel about the responses you received both from the judges and the audience?

Well, Piers [Morgan] and "The Hoff" [David Hasselhoff] were fine, very nice, both on and off camera. Brandy was a bitch.

Do you think that she was truly in question about your talent, or do you think she was threatened by your sensuality?

Yes, all of it. I really thought she'd appreciate the Knight Rider thing, because that obviously took time and talent on my part. But, oh well. The audience . . . well, it's not really "reality" TV.

Yes, that was fabulous! You rented Kitt for the program. Are there just a bunch of movie car places where you can rent famous cars in L.A.?

That was an actual car from season four! It was very fancy.

I love it! A fan dancer and a fan girl!

[Laughs] Yeah, I didn't realize how much I would dig the car until I saw it and got to roll around on it!

images courtesy of

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