Though last week's announcement confirmed that she is at the pinnacle of her art form, burlesque performer Lou Lou la Duchesse de Rière - Lauren Ashley Jiles by day - still knows where she came from and who she is.

21st Century Burlesque just rated the performer who grew up in the Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk) community of Kahnawake on Montreal's South Shore as the second most influential burlesque performer in the world. The announcement comes six months after she was named Miss Exotic World at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend in Las Vegas.

"It's been surreal to be on this list," she told CTV News. "I'm surrounded by the most amazing talented human beings. These are people that I've looked up to, that I've trained under, that I've had the pleasure of sharing the stage with, so it's such an honour."

The list is voted on by thousands of performers, venue operators, patrons of the arts, producers, others in the industry, as well as fans and audience members. She placed above the likes of Dita Von Teese, GiGi Holliday and Cleopantha. 

The no. 1 performer in 2022 is Ginger Valentine.

The first iteration of the 21st Century Burlesque Magazine list was posted 14 years ago, and it has become a list performers want to be on, said magazine founder and editor Holli Mae Johnson. The vote is based on the most influential figures in a given year rather than an all time ranking.

"There's a real spirit of celebration and acknowledgement to it overall," said Johnson of the list. "It's a way to wrap up each year and provides a great springboard for research and discovery. It's become increasingly diverse and representative, which is fantastic." 

Jiles is the daughter of a Kanien'kehá:ka mother and an African American father. Despite performing on stages in New Orleans, Chicago, Las Vegas, Panama and other international destinations, she never forgets the first stage she stepped onto and the community that continues to support her.

"I have such love for my community and where I grew up and my roots before burlesque," she said. "I started doing community theatre from the age of five to 18. I go home often, and I still feel like that little kid on stage sometimes. Whenever I perform going to Vegas, I'm like, 'Wow! how far I come!"

Jiles started performing burlesque shortly after her 18th birthday, regularly shaking, spinning and disrobing at Montreal's Wiggle Room on St. Laurent Boulevard.

"I don't believe in doing anything that you don't like," she said. "I've lived many lives, and burlesque has been the constant. I feel alive when I'm onstage. I feel myself."

Wiggle Room owner Pascale-Frenchy Jones said Jiles has always been an important part of the Montreal burlesque scene and is proud to see her getting international acclaim. 

"From her incredible talent to the influence she has in the world and her devotion to First Nations communities and women, we couldn't ask for a better queen!" said Jones.

Jiles has begun paying it forward by mentoring young burlesque dancers trying to get into the industry. She is particularly keen to help those like herself who have different sizes, shapes or colours than historically stereotypical beauty standards.

"When I started performing burlesque, I didn't see myself on stage," she said. "I don't fit most western beauty standards, and I think that's really important to inspire other people to get onstage."

Performer Joy Rider is one of the protégées Jiles has taken under her wing. She said Jiles has helped her highlight her Filipino culture as part of her art.

"It was important for me to work with Lou Lou who could provide mentorship and guidance on approaching burlesque through a decolonial lens. With her help, I have been better able to navigate the world of burlesque as a racialized artist. She has helped me continue to use the art form as a means of reclamation and celebration of elements of my identity, which used to be sources of great pain," said Rider.

The runner-up spot on the 21st Century Burlesque list and Miss Exotic World are just the latest in a string of accolades for the Kahnawa'kehró:non artist.

Jiles was named Canada's no. 1 performer in 2019 and 2020, she was named the New Orleans Queen of Burlesque in 2019, and Burlesque Hall of Fame Runner second runner-up in 2019.

Jiles also advocates for multiple causes, notably the Native Woman's Association of Canada.