5 Minutes With Vancouver Island’s Burlesque Pioneer Rosie Bitts

She shares her idea of perfect happiness, her greatest fears and confesses to her greatest extravagances. 

By Gillie Easdon


She captivates audiences with her wit, brash sauciness, and bump and grind appeal. She’s the flossy force known as Rosie Bitts, a performer, producer, author and one of the pioneers who brought the art form of burlesque to Vancouver Island. And when she’s not taking her lovable brand of burlesque to audiences across North America, she’s teaching Tantra and her “Learn to Love Your Jiggly Bitts” classes and workshops, which are exhortations and invitations to revel in your body and life through dance, heels and, yes, tassels.

And because she’s versed in both destitution and the sumptuous life, it’s little wonder that “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou is her favourite poem: It’s in the reach of my arms/The span of my hips/The stride of my step/The curl of my lips/I’m a woman/Phenomenally/Phenomenal woman …

What’s your idea of perfect happiness?

It’s twofold: knowing everyone is happy, healthy and well so I can immerse myself in my art, and having my partner give me loving touch and loving massage.

What’s your greatest fear?

That my children will suffer beyond normal human suffering, or that they will die before me.

What do you admire most in your friends?

Their compassion, creativity and ability to love me unconditionally, even through all my imperfections.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Cruelty — when people are purposefully cruel to one another.

What is your greatest extravagance?

I’m an extravagant person, but here are my top three: 1) beauty: manis, pedis, facials, fancy creams — I have always loved all of this; 2) costumes: I have a $1,500 boa; what kind of bullshit is that? 3) food: I love eating out, and I love good-quality, beautiful food.

On what occasions do you lie?

I’m a shitty liar, so I don’t do it often, but when I do lie, it’s to save feelings … I do, however, embellish a lot. Does that count?

When and where were you happiest?

Consistently throughout my life, I’m the happiest when I’m on stage.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would be less serious. Let things go more easily. Be more easily joyful.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Having kept myself and two humans alive, and having awesome relationships with them.

What historical or mythical figure do you most identify with?

The goddess of creation and destruction, Kali, and any and every female in history who got burnt at the stake or who was unabashedly herself.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

The first female reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, or a house cat (less interesting, but a perfect life).

What’s your guilty pleasure?

I love the drive through the Prairies with a cream soda/cola Slurpee.

In an alternate reality, what would your profession be?

A doula or a midwife.

What do you do in your downtime?

With the little time I have, I like to spend it in bed. I bring everything in my bed. I eat in bed, visit with friends in bed, read in bed, all of it.    

This article is from the May/June 2018 issue of YAM.