Burlesque legend who grew up in a tent in Ballina comes home
A PIONEERING burlesque performer who grew up in the Northern Rivers will stage a glorious homecoming tomorrow night when she performs at the Byron Community Theatre for the Tropical Fruits Festival 2015.
Glitta Supernova, born Sonja Bijl, spent her toddlerhood in a tent on the banks of the Richmond River in Ballina.
Now after more than 20 years away she is returning - no longer a teenager dreaming of the stage, but an accomplished performer with a very unique CV.
Ms Supernova opened Australia's first burlesque club in the late 90s well before it became an 'in' thing and quickly established herself as a pioneer of the art.
"It was only until seven years later burlesque started to take off in Australia," she said.
"Then it was very underground... it was kind of a cult club. Everyone came and it was it was all crazy and dark and mysterious.
"We were actually recreating burlesque as it was meant to be in the modern age, we were making satire on society and politics, our bodies, and sexuality... in the dictionary the word burlesque is to parody culture and society in a vulgar and humorous way."
Since then her club has been nominated for two Green Room awards, one of Australia's most prestigious stage performance accolades.
And yet her younger years were spent a world away in Ballina and Lennox Head, where her Dutch parents moved in the mid-70s from western Sydney.
"My dad pitched a tent in Shaw's Bay... I was about two or three, all I remember is lots of photos and it was just me naked all the time with a bell around my neck so they didn't lose me," she laughed.
"I think we went through a few cyclones in that tent and Dad laid one of the first bricks in East Ballina.
"Then they found their way to Lennox Head and we sort of settled there, I went to Lennox Head Primary School and Ballina High School.
She eventually left in 1988 at the age of 17 to Sydney where she spent several years discovering her talents.
"I did have special talents in theatre and stuff, but we were just really working class so we didn't have any money to nurture that... but I was always holding performances for the neighbourhood and discos."
She fell in with some creative types and was eventually asked to perform: "we just started exploring ourselves and our creativity.... it naturally started to evolve."
Tonight, when she performs for the Tropical Fruits Festival 2015 tonight in Byron it will mark the first time she's performed in her home region.
It's one of the first time extended family members are seeing her, and perhaps for the first time this bold performer admitted she was a little bit nervous.
"It's not mainstream work, it's very on the fringe," she laughed.
"I'm sure there's going to be some awkward Christmas conversations."