A troupe of circus performers has been denied a business account after stuffy bank bosses branded their glitzy burlesque costumes — a “MORAL PROBLEM”.
Entertainer Joshua Morris set up ‘Circus Uncertainty’ earlier this year and applied for a business bank account with Santander so he could get grants to fund work with terminally-ill kids.
But he claims the banking giant denied his classy troupe an account because the showgirls’ burlesque-style outfits – a fringed bikini and stilts – were a “moral problem”.
The performers are baffled by the decision as there is no nudity in the family-friendly act – which has performed at Glastonbury and was a centre piece at the Harbourside Festival.
Acrobat and juggler Joshua, 20, said: “It has put all our plans on hold – we can’t move forward without it.
“I wanted to open the account so we could apply for grants.
“The plan is to run a program that would bring a terminally-ill child’s favourite cartoon character to meet them. We would dress up and visit them.
“I am worried that we will be black listed by other banks because of this decision.
“We never offer anything that could cause upset. There is no nudity or anything like that.
“Burlesque-style shows are pretty mainstream now.
“I have spoken to friends in the circus industry and other burlesque acts too, and none of them have ever had an issue with a bank.”
Joshua, from Henleaze, Bristol, set up the 40-strong circus in March, to showcase the talents of acrobats, jugglers, burlesque dancers and fire performers.
Two weeks ago he went into the city’s Whiteladies Road branch of Santander to apply for a business account, and was questioned about his business.
A week later he was told on the phone he couldn’t bank with the company because staff had looked on the circus’ website and didn’t like the look of costumes worn by some acts.
The seemingly offensive outfit is a blue fringed bikini covered in jewels, worn with a feather boa and a headdress by female show girls who greet audiences before performing a burlesque act.
Joshua said: “We went into the bank and filled out all the paperwork with their business manager.
“It seemed to be absolutely fine, and she asked questions about the business, what we did, how many people we employed.
“She didn’t ask about the costumes – they found that out by going on our website afterwards.
“We got a call from the lady a week later to say we couldn’t have a bank account.
“She said we had been denied a bank account on the ground that we have a burlesque and a show girls act.
“She said someone higher up than her said because we sell burlesque and show girls acts we can’t have an account.
“She kept saying it was a ‘moral problem’ and that it was a ‘moral problem’ they can’t associate with the bank.
“We asked why that meant we couldn’t have an account and they didn’t offer an explanation, they just said no.
“I don’t get it why it would immoral for a bank – we’re booked for a party with Lloyds in September.”
A Santander spokesman said: “We are committed to supporting the local business community and we are happy to review this account application following some clarification of the nature of the business.
“We are now in discussion with the business owner about his application and we hope to reach a positive outcome in the coming days.
“We are very sorry for any concern or inconvenience that out initial misunderstanding may have caused.”