Nocturness enters the stage carrying a candelabra that she holds before herself like an offering. The room is dark and hushed, and her skin, barely hidden by a few leather straps and duct tape across her nipples, glows in the candlelight. She’s a tall, striking woman, made taller by some incredible boots and the horns springing from her bleached dreadlocks. She places the candles down, posing in front of them, one leg elongated to the side. She’s magnetic to watch, more so as she begins to take the candles form their holders and holds them aloft. The hot wax splashes down her body, streaking her skin.
She’s the alter ego of a woman I sat opposite in the changing rooms of the 2016 Christchurch Fetish Ball twenty minutes earlier. In that time, she’s gone from being an attractive woman who joked that I could take as many photographs as I like as long as I didn’t make her look fat, to one who is simply awe-inspiring and impossible to look away from.
She is on the stage, out to shock, and this is deliberate. Nicole Christensen, the woman behind the act is eager to provoke feeling in her audiences, whether it’s surprise, fear or lust. Or hopefully all three, the trifecta of what she describes as the ‘awkward boner’.
Despite the gothic nature of Nocturness’ show, a spark of humour shines through in the character. As she stands on stage wearing nothing but the straps, boots and g-string she walked out in. She carefully places candles in her mouth, her hands and, with a knowing glance to her audience, between her buttocks.
Nocturness’ unique style of performance fits into the gore-lesque model and appeals to audiences who want more than just a woman’s body on display. Which is lucky, because she is determined to give them an experience they won’t see anywhere else. “I’m not sure how it started, I like performing but I’m not overly inspired by what you usually see in burlesque. I think it’s absolutely beautiful and I love watching, but I wanted to do something else. I dream up ideas often. I kept them suppressed for a while, scared people wouldn’t get it, or I wouldn’t portray what I was trying to.”
“I’ve loved being on stage my whole life. I’m excited by applause, I guess. I think other people like it because (I Hope) it stirs some form of emotion in them. I want people to walk away feeling a little confused. Maybe a bit disturbed. Maybe a bit turned on.”
The power of the Nocturness character and show comes Christensen’s desire to shake things up, to bring the unexpected to the stage. “She is power, seduction, she addresses controversial topics, such as the story she tells in her nun act. I just really want to stir something deep in the pits of people’s stomachs. I choose the music I perform to very carefully because that can make or break the ambience in the room.” Not that playing such a character makes life easy. “A lot of my shows contain partial nudity and sexual themes, or just stuff that’s a bit weird. Not all guys are ok with dating a girl who gets on stage and dishes out awkward boners.”
Thankfully, her audiences are completely down for Nocturness’s approach to sexuality and dark thematic concerns. A theme that will carry through her upcoming show and hopefully many more in future.
– Laura Borrowdale