Herzlich Willkommen to Lada Redstar enchanted world
The first step you take into Lada’s flat transports you into a magic world full of charming energy. Feathers, costumes, old pictures of soldiers, memories and great music. Lada was there waiting for me with a big smile on her face. She is a great hostess, made me feel right away at home, and we had a very interesting conversation. Before the start of this new adventure I asked an experienced friend how long, ideally, should an interview last: 20 minutes! Never more than that! – Hum! Guess this time I had to break the rules. My interview with Lada Redstar took me more than 40 minutes. And why? She’s possibly one of the most interesting persons I’ve met in the last three years!
The early days
Since the interview was quite long, and I don’t want to lose any minute of it, I’ll divide it in two parts: “The early days” and a second part “The burlesque days”. Enjoy!
Vintage Berlin Guide: I’m curious. What is your background? Where were you born?
Lada Redstar: Oh! My background. I had such a complicated life. But I guess this is one of the reasons why my life became such a beautiful one, because it started so complicated. When you see so much, when you hear so much, when you do so much, at the end you have to throw, somehow, everything outside. I was born in Sarajevo. Back then my life was pretty normal. I came from a nice family, I was having a normal education, violin lessons, classic ballet and I was a very good student. Everything was just perfect. Until the war started in 1992. I had to move with my mom. My father couldn’t follow us because adult men were not authorized to leave the city. We moved to Italy. I studied in Bologna and finish my high school in art studies there. Then one year of critic of art. But then… I moved to Paris because of love. Oh… Wait… No! Before going to Paris I hitchhiked around Europe for a year. I worked one month for a film festival in Romania, then in Belgium for four or five months, London for six months and then I fell in love with a musician in Paris. I moved there and continued my studies. I lived in Paris for five years. When I finished my studies and broke up with the musician I thought: Time again for a change!
And I moved to Berlin. Seemed the most interesting city to move in to. Lots of my artists friends were already here. Paris was becoming really expensive and such a non-creative city. Everything was slowly dying. If the city was not moving, I had to move. I’ve been living here, in Berlin, for two and a half years. That’s very quickly the history of the first three decades of my life.
VBG: How old were you when you had to leave Sarajevo?
LR: I was nine.
VBG: What did that feel like? Did you have the understanding of what was going on?
LR: It was pretty clear! In a city where people are getting killed around you, there’s not that much you need to understand. But I think back then nobody in Sarajevo realized what was really going on. And we were thinking: – No way! “This is a European country. It’s not possible that in Europe they will allow another war.” We were pretty sure that nothing would happen. When the war started, we were sure that it would be finished by the next day… “It is not possible that this will last more than one day.” But it continued. We had family living outside Sarajevo and with a better understanding of what was going on. They were making a lot of pressure for us to leave town. That didn’t make any sense for us. We were living there, a happy mixed family, there was no way that the situation was as bad as they were telling us. Then one day I was almost killed by a shooter. I was nine years old and he wanted to shoot me in the head. The bullet passed really close to my head. I think this was the point when my mother realized that the war was real and we left the day after. We packed our things and ran away.
VBG: It must have been really tough for a child to experience all of this.
LR: Yes, it was, but it made me stronger. In life people can decide what they want to take from these kind of episodes. You can be negative and get depressed because of it or decide to be a stronger person and look at it in a more positive way. It’s a decision you have to make. I decided to become stronger. We only have one life and it’s worth living. It is a beautiful life if you want it to be.
VBG: As a teenager, were you already this pretty girl? The sexy one?
LR: I thought I wasn’t! But the other day I had a comment on Facebook saying: – Ha! I remember the sexy Lada in the teenage year – I thought… What?! (laughs) I just remember having those big boobs that were, of course, appealing to boys. But… I don’t know! I was much more a rock’n’roller at the time. I think I always liked to play a bit with the boys. I was in a group of friends where I was the only girl, so I felt really protected by them.
VBG: How does this all started? When was the first time you had contact with burlesque?
LR: As a child I’ve always loved to watch the old movies from the 50’s that were on Rai3 with Gina Lollobrigida and Sofia Loren. I would wake up early on Sunday morning to watch them. Also my grandma was a very beautiful woman. She was a pin-up in the 40’s and 50’s and I always looked at her as a model. She was perfect, with her blonde perfect style. Her nails were perfect, matching with her lipstick. And her big beautiful blue eyes and smile. She was a very strong woman too. She was fighting with the partisans in the II World War. She is for me the model of what a woman should be: a strong person that fights, if she has too, but always keeping her femininity. I always kept this in my head. When I arrived in London, nine or ten years ago, the vintage and burlesque scene was already huge. So I had the chance to go to lots of burlesque events. Lots of vintage events. Then I decided to do my first show on my birthday, in December 2005. But it was really small and… really bad… (laughs) It was really bad, actually!