Burlesque couple Kathy and Mark
Kathy with boyfriend Mark

A grandmother found new love after she took up BURLESQUE dancing.

Kathy Rowan, 53, reached an all-time low after a hysterectomy and, desperate for a boost, signed up for burlesque classes.

She devised a striptease alter-ego, Kosmic Kitty, and in defiance of her wrinkles started performing sexy stage shows.

When her marriage came to an end, Miss Rowan began a relationship with male ‘boylesque’ dancer Mark Hetherington, 50, after he asked her to teach him some moves.

Burlesque grandma
Kathy on stage as her burlesque alter ego Kosmic Kitty

Miss Rowan, of Blackpool, said: “I thought burlesque would boost my confidence, but I never expected it to find me a man. I have a new lease on life after I started stripping at 50.”

When she was 47 Miss Rowan underwent a hysterectomy for medical reasons.

Miss Rowan, who has a grandchild, said the operation rocked her confidence, until a leaflet advertising a local burlesque class dropped through her letterbox in 2009.

She said: “After the operation I didn’t feel confident – I definitely didn’t feel sexy. I felt like less of a woman. I thought burlesque would be fun and would help me get back in shape.

“As a youngster I’d harboured a secret desire to be a sexy stripper and convinced myself that even as a granny pushing 50, it was never too late to learn some seductive moves.

“The first class was really fun and really exciting. People were wearing glamorous clothes and everyone was so encouraging. It was the confidence boost I needed – I started to feel sexy again.”

A year later Miss Rowan performed in a stage show alongside other burlesque performers – most of them in their early twenties.

She said: “My first performance was both terrifying and wonderful. The audience were very encouraging – I was hooked.

“My family are used to me doing some rather bonkers things so they weren’t too surprised when I told them about my new hobby.

“They have never been to my shows though – I don’t think anyone would want to watch their mum stripping on stage.”

One night after her show Mr Hetherington approached Miss Rowan and asked if she would teach him how to perform ‘boylesque’ – a male version of the popular entertainment.

Miss Rowan said: “I had known Mark for a while and he came to one of my shows. He said he really enjoyed one of the male performers and asked if I could help him put on a show.

“I called him the next day when he had sobered up and asked if he really wanted to try it. He said yes, so we got started.”

Miss Rowan helped Mr Hetherington to develop his own on-stage persona called Ian Kognito, a stripping ninja.

In Hetherington Miss Rowan split from her husband and soon her relationship with Mr Hetherington went to the next level.

She said: “My split from my husband was very amicable and had nothing to do with burlesque or with Mark.

“Spending hours stripping with Mark meant it was only natural there was a bit of sexual tension between us.

“We went out for dinner on Valentine’s Day, our first date was at the venue where I do my shows. It was different from the usual first date as we had already seen each other naked – we were already pretty familiar with the other.”

Mr Hetherington said: “That night at Kathy’s show, I joked with my friends I should be a naughty ninja.

“A couple of drinks later I mentioned this to Kathy, not entirely seriously. But in the morning the idea seemed like a good one. After all, you don’t need to be a ripped Magic Mike type character to be a burlesque performer.

“Obviously Kathy is a very beautiful lady and we built up a great rapport during my lessons. Then when she split with her ex I knew I wanted to be with her. When she confessed she fancied me, I was over the moon.”

The stripping couple now perform in the same burlesque show together and have been together for just over a year.

Miss Rowan is now an advanced burlesque dancer. She has even learned advanced moves such as setting a pair of twirling nipple tassels on fire.

She also incorporates a balloon popping act in her routine – encouraging audience members to pop balloons attached to her body each burst one revealing more skin.

Miss Rowan has two children Mimi, 35, and Shaun, 27, she also has a grandson called Tyler, 10.

Miss Rowan said: “I’m so glad that burlesque leaflet dropped through my door. My entire life has changed. I have a new man and a new career.”

By Helen O’Brien Google

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