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Velma Celli, Drag artist

Ian Stroughair – stage name Velma Celli – got into performing 15 years ago, at the age of 14, then applied for a three-year musical theatre course.

After a career in the West End appearing in shows such as Cats, Fame and Chicago, Stroughair moved into direction and choreography, and also teaches at Pineapple Dance Studios. Evenings he can be found performing at Circus and Proud Cabaret.

For anyone considering a career on the stage, he says it’s important to keep evolving as an artist, adding: “It takes years of vocal training, acting classes and ballet, tap, modern and jazz dancing lessons.

“It’s not all glitz and glamour. It’s work ethic and guts that get you there!” Stroughair is gearing up for his Velma Celli show at Proud Cabaret City on September 12.

“It takes the audience on a satirical journey through jazz, pop and musical theatre, and parodies your favorite TV shows. It’s a laugh a second.”

Training, stripper school

Yes, that’s right, you can go back to school (sort of) to learn how to remove your clothes. offers an eight-week course.

You’ll learn about the history of stripping (see, and you thought it was all about getting naked), music, costumes, stage shows and how to handle enthusiastic women. Right.

Salary Expect anything up to £20,000 when you’re starting out.

Training For cabaret, acts will often have a theatrical background. For stripping, you’ll need to have a good body, which you look after (ditch the tinnies and burgers). You’ll also need to dedicate your time to training, everything from cardio to weightlifting if you’re taking your shirt off.

Character Retiring wall flowers need not apply! Make sure you’re confident and like to be in the spotlight.

Photos: Logan Riehl; Getty; Thinkstock

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