New Orleans Burlesque Festival bump and grind this weekend
September 10, 2009

by Molly Reid, Staff writer, The Times-Picayune

Thursday September 10, 2009, 11:33 AM

Steven Forster / The Times-Picayune
Foxy Flambeaux, Praline DuPree, Kitty Twist from “Secrets in Lace Presented Bustout Burlesque in The Mystick” presented at the Royal Sonesta Hotel last September.NEW ORLEANS BURLESQUE FESTIVAL

What: A three-day showcase of classic and traditional burlesque. Friday features a kickoff party at the Green Bar of the Westin Hotel and the Mondo Burlesque revue at Harrah’s New Orleans. Saturday features the Queen of Burlesque competition at Harrah’s and the Late-Night Burlesque Bash at the House of Blues. Sunday’s activities include Naughty New Orleans, featuring local troupe Bustout Burlesque, at Harrah’s, as well as a closing party at the Carousel Lounge in the Hotel Monteleone.

When: Friday through Sunday, at several locations. See Web site for details.

Where: Kickoff and closing parties are free. Shows range in price from $20 to $50.

Information: Visit www.neworleansburlesquefest.com or call Ticketmaster at 800.745.3000.

 

New Orleans might have changed considerably over the past 50 years, but at heart, it’s still a big tease.

So say the 50-plus sassy, sexy ladies who will twirl their tassels and strut their stuff through the first New Orleans Burlesque Festival this weekend. The festival aims to celebrate the burlesque revival that has sparked retro and cutting-edge revues across the country over the past 15 years, as well as put New Orleans back on the map as the capital of saucy, buxom entertainment.

Though the international burlesque revival has, in general, modernized the classic art of striptease, often employing contemporary music, costumes and themes, don’t expect to find anything avant-garde or experimental at the New Orleans Burlesque Festival.

Instead, it aims to celebrate the kind of entertainment that filled Bourbon Street clubs in the 1940s and early ’50s.

Performers such as Rita Alexander, the Champagne Girl; Blaze Starr; and Evangeline the Oyster Girl helped make New Orleans known as “The Most Interesting City in the World” for its numerous risque French Quarter nightclubs.

The girls were glittery, sexy nightlife attractions, by turns campy, coy, brassy and erotic. They tempered the banal appeal of exposed flesh by drawing out the tease, wearing layers of costume — often incorporating a character or prop — and peeling them off one by one.
“The performer has to look like they’re having a good time, ” said festival founder and producer Rick Delaup. “It has to be a beautiful presentation. It has to be sexy. It has to, you know, kind of make your blood pressure rise.”

New Orleans’ burlesque revival has spawned a number of groups, such as Fleur de Tease, which kicks off its fourth season on Sunday (see box); and the Rev. Spooky LeStrange and Her Billion-Dollar Baby Dolls, which incorporate contemporary music and moves into the routines, Delaup said. But, he adds, adherence to tradition has remained a strong element of the city’s burlesque scene.


Foxy Flambeaux and Praline Dupree of the local troupe Bustout Burlesque are a part of the Naughty New Orleans show Sunday evening (Sept. 13) at Harrah’s Theater.FLEUR DE TEASE

What: Trixie Minx, Madame Mystere, Natasha Fiore, Lily Summers and Bella Blue join host Chris Lane and Magic Mike as they kick off the company’s fourth season of burlesque.
When: Sunday at 8 and 10:30 p.m.
Where: One Eyed Jacks, 615 Toulouse St.
Admission: $15 general admission, $20 reserved table seating. For future shows and more details, visit http://www.fleurdetease.com or call 504.319.8917.

 

“The burlesque revival in New Orleans, when it started, it was these shows that were trying to be more authentically ’50s-style shows with live bands, ” said Delaup, who also is a producer for the local troupe Bustout Burlesque. “Throughout the years of burlesque revival, that’s been a big concept. It’s not too hard to find jazz musicians in New Orleans. It just goes together.”

Part of the reason Delaup chose to focus on traditional burlesque was to set it apart from the proliferation of burlesque festivals around the world, he said.

“They’re exploding, ” he said. “I wanted to do something that was more concentrated in focus, so we’re focusing on classic and traditional burlesque.

“You’re not going to see anything outrageous in terms of the crazy performance art-type pieces I’ve seen. There’s nothing wrong with that, but my main interest has always been in classical and traditional burlesque.”

Over the weekend, the festival will host parties, shows and competitions, featuring more than 50 performers from throughout the country, Delaup said. Friday’s Mondo Burlesque revue will feature dancers, singers and variety acts. The main event Saturday at Harrah’s Casino is the Queen of Burlesque competition, in which 11 exotic dancers from across the country and England — well-known performers such as Annette Betty, Evie Lovelle and local dancer Perle Noire, the Black Pearl — will strip to live jazz music in hopes of earning the festival’s top prize. Saturday also will feature a Late-Night Burlesque Bash at the House of Blues, in which burlesque star Catherine D’Lish will attempt to set the Guinness World Record for the largest feather fan dance.

Delaup said he hopes the festival helps the city as it regains its once-storied title as a hub of burlesque. With several established local troupes and some recent newcomers, it doesn’t seem like the revival will fade anytime soon.

“One of the reasons I’m doing this is to really bring attention to (burlesque) as a permanent entertainment fixture in New Orleans, ” he said.

FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHTS

Friday Night

• NOBF Opening Night Reception, 5:30-8 p.m., Green Bar of the Westin Hotel, 11th floor in Canal Place, 100 Iberville St.

Burlesque legend Evangeline the Oyster Girl joins fellow dancers at the hotel bar to kick off the festival. Free.

• Mondo Burlesque, 9 p.m., Harrah’s New Orleans, 8 Canal St.

The opening-night showcase features singers, dancers and a magician performing to recorded music. $35 and $40.

Saturday

• Queen of Burlesque, 8 p.m., Harrah’s New Orleans

Classic striptease dancers gather to compete for the title “Queen of Burlesque.” Each solo performance is set to live jazz music. Celebrity judges include actor/radio host Jay Thomas and Miss Louisiana USA Lacey Minchew as well as former burlesque stars. $45 and $50. Tickets available at Ticketmaster.com or 800.745.3000.

• Late-Night Burlesque Bash, 11 p.m., House of Blues, 225 Decatur St.

More than two dozen dancers will perform, and Catherine D’Lish will attempt to set a world record by performing with the world’s largest feather fans. $20, available through Ticketmaster.com, www.hob.com or the venue box office (504.310.4999).

Sunday

• Legends of New Orleans Burlesque panel discussion, 2-3:30 p.m., Westin New Orleans Canal Place Hotel, third floor

Meet Bourbon Street striptease stars of the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. At a time when glamour, real talent and live jazz were a mainstay in the nightclubs of the French Quarter, these women were headline acts. Hear about their adventurous lives on and off the stage, as they tell the stories that made headlines in newspapers and magazines throughout the country. Kitty West; Evangeline the Oyster Girl; Tee Red, the TNT Girl; Wild Cherry, the Firecracker of Bourbon Street; and Rita Alexander, the Champagne Girl, will remain after the presentation to autograph their old publicity photos. Moderated by Rick Delaup.

$5, free to festival performers.

• The New Striptease Superstars panel discussion, 3:30-5 p.m., Westin New Orleans Canal Place Hotel, third floor

Long after the heyday of burlesque, a renewed interest in this bawdy form of entertainment emerged in the 1990s. Meet some of the modern-day dancers who have really brought sexy back. Find out what it’s like to be a burlesque dancer in the new millennium, a time of emerging technology, new media and female empowerment. Panelists include burlesque superstar Catherine D’Lish (Los Angeles); Michelle L’Amour (Chicago); Vivienne Vavoom, author of Burlesque & the New Bump and Grind (Denver); Lola Van Ella, the Derriere Beyond Compare (St. Louis); Renea’ Le Roux, the Southern Belle from Hell (Atlanta); La Cholita, the Latina Queen of Burlesque (Los Angeles); Amber Ray (New York); and Ophelia Flame (Minneapolis). Moderated by Jo Weldon of the New York School of Burlesque.

$5, free to festival performers.

• Naughty New Orleans, Harrah’s New Orleans, 8 p.m.

The final night’s showcase features the popular “Bustout Burlesque” show, featuring dancers, singers, variety acts and special guests, all accompanied by a live jazz band.

Admission: $30. (Harrah’s also is offering a $100 package deal for the three shows at its venue. Package does not include the House of Blues event.) Tickets now on sale at Ticketmaster.com or 800.745.3000.

• Closing night party, 10:30 p.m., Carousel Lounge in the Hotel Monteleone.

Join a bevy of burlesque beauties for the last hurrah. Kitten on the Keys entertains, along with special guests. Free.

Saturday and Sunday

• Burlesque workshops, Westin New Orleans Canal Place Hotel, third floor

The New York School of Burlesque will offer workshops by instructors from around the country. Schedule can be found at www.neworleansburlesquefest.com
. . . . . . .

Molly Reid can be reached at mreid@timespicayune.com or 504.826.3448.

Burlesque show by Dazzle Troupe
September 10, 2009

Posted on September 10th, 2009

The Dazzle Troupe will present another outrageous Burlesque show on Wednesday 23rd and Friday 25th September at their usual Strait Street hangout, Chiaroscuro.

This time the Dazzle Troupe take their audience on an unforgettable adventure through time into the nostalgic world of the past. The show will be accompanied by a photographic freak show, lead by the evil freak show keeper, Hortensia Vulgaris.  

Directed by Nicole Cuschieri, the Time Travelling Burlesque show brings together the best of local talent in music and songwriting, comedy, dance, theatre and poetry.

Artistes involved are Marie Claire Camilleri, Veronica Stivala, Chris Galea, Alex Vella Gregory, Lizzie Eldridge, Teo Reljic, Alex Spiteri Gingell, Bettina Borg Cardona, Peter Farrugia, Ellen Pace, Tribal Dance Malta, MarieClaire Pellegrini, Philip Leone-Ganado and Althea Corlett.

A photographic exhibition by Matthew Attard Navarro, Tonio Lombardi, Aldo Cauchi Savona, Denise Scicluna, Gilbert Calleja, Kris Micallef, Tony Camilleri and Francesca Galea will be on during the night.

Doors open at 2030 CEST with the show commencing at 2100 CEST.

Seating is limited. Booking can be made via email at dazzlent@gmail.com or through the facebook event: The Time Travelling Burlesque Show.

Free Sex Arts Fest to help filmmakers
September 10, 2009

By Veronica M. Cruz
FOR THE ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 09.10.2009
R-rated magician Herr Bruno Bill, performance artists with Parasol Project, and burlesque troupes Cabaret Boheme and Cirque du Sin will shake and shimmy Saturday for a good cause.
All are part of the Free Sex Arts Festival, which challenges performers to interpret what sex means to them by using visual art, music, dance and film.
Now in its second year, the outdoor festival is expected to draw up to 250 people — a jump from the 150 who attended last year. In addition, 25 artists have submitted work to be exhibited or will be part of the performances.
The festival benefits Pan Left Productions, a collective that for 15 years has helped amateur filmmakers create films about their interests and experiences. Many focus on border as well as gay and lesbian issues.
“Part of the Pan Left mission is to represent voices that don’t often get heard in mainstream media,” says Mary Charlotte Thurtle, the organization’s executive director.
Festival coordinator Oscar Jimenez, who is also a filmmaker at Pan Left, said he intends to continue the event annually, but has had requests to hold the event more often.
One of its most unusual features is an interactive exhibit called “The Confessional.”
Participants walk into a booth and write down a secret anonymously. At the end of the night the secrets will be read aloud to the crowd.
Jimenez likened the effect to that of a Catholic confessional. “You walk in to confess, then you walk out refreshed.”
The evening will be hosted by mistress of ceremonies Mark Fettgatter, better known as his hairsprayed, glammed-up, stiletto-clad stage persona, Bunny Fu Fu.
Exhibits will also look at sex in relation to culture and identity. “My goal is to provide a stage for artists that debunk myths of sexuality through their art,” Jimenez says.
Drea Colores, who founded the variety performance group Cirque du Sin, says the group plans to ditch its usually comedic acts in favor of more sensuous routines.
“We like to blur lines,” says Colores. “We like to push buttons.”
People who attend Free Sex can “expect to walk away with questions and maybe expand their views about what sex is,” says Jimenez.
At last year’s Free Sex, Cirque du Sin performed a form of Japanese bondage called Shibari. This year, Colores says her group has plans for a honky-tonk burlesque performance, complete with cowboy and saloon girl costumes.
The night’s soundtrack will be provided by Tempe musician Marc Pedraza, a regular at GLBT events who plays mellow reggae/ Caribbean-inspired tracks with a positive message, encouraging everyone to just get along (think Jack Johnson).
Veronica M. Cruz is a University of Arizona student who is apprenticing at the Star. Contact her at starapprentice@azstarnet.com

Burlesque Is Back In Philadelphia!
September 10, 2009

By Anne Marie Green

PHILADELPHIA (CBS 3) ―

 

It’s sexy, it’s sensual. Burlesque is a lot of things, including popular. What was once considered the domain of the no-so-modest is attracting a whole new crop of fans—regular women. Just look at the audience at this show at L’atage in Old City.

Burlesque dancer Annie A-Bomb (that’s her stage name) says, “Usually after a show, I have a bunch of people running up to me saying, ‘Oh, how did you get into this? I’d love to do it!'”

And so Annie A-Bomb started a four-week course for wannabe burlesque dancers, whether they plan to stay home perform or take it to the stage. It’s part movement, part props, and part arts and crafts.

She demonstrated a glove move: “If you put your arm over your head, you can pull inside out.”

She’ll even teach you to make your own pasties.

Most of the women in tonight’s course were a little too shy to show their faces. But Randi Warhol (a stage name) credits Annie’s tutelage for, well, exposing her whimsical side.

“I play a French woman, so I have croissants,” she said.

When it comes to burlesque, what Randi finds the most appealing has nothing to do with peeling off clothes.

“It’s not just your exposing your body. You’re also exposing your creativity and your mind,” Randi said.

Annie teaches traditional burlesque. It’s more satire than striptease.

“Traditionally it included making fun of high culture, which including skits and comedy and big production numbers,” said Annie.

Her students learn that what may seem lewd to some can actually be quite liberating.

“As long as you’re comfortable with your body, that’s all that should matter,” she said. “We have curvier women in our show. The audience still loves you. It doesn’t discriminate.”

If four weeks is a bit much for you, Annie A-Bomb is developing a series of workshops so you can be a burlesque dancer for a day.

To sign up for a class, you can email Annie A-Bomb at: annieabomb@revivalburlesque.com

Burlesque dancers turn heads as they hit the town centre
September 10, 2009

HEADS were turned when four provocatively dressed burlesque dancers took to the streets of Bolton town centre.

Miss Vivacious Grace, Champagne Paris, Coco Malone and Willow Blue caused quite a stir as they donned corsets and short bustle skirts before handing out fliers around Nelson Square, Victoria Square and Le Mans Crescent.

Women covered their boyfriends’ eyes as they walked past, while one man was so excited he fell off his bike.

The women were promoting their forthcoming show at the Pack Horse Hotel in Nelson Square.

They posed for photos with members of the public and shop staff as they went about their business.

Miss Vivacious Grace — real name Sarah Spencer, aged 30, of Edward Street, Farnworth — says her show will be Bolton’s first proper burlesque performance for many years.

She said: “If you’re from Bolton and you’re into burlesque, then you have to travel. There’s nothing like this in Bolton, so we thought ‘why shouldn’t there be’?

“It’s traditional comedy and dance, not the sort of thing that some people try to sell as burlesque to get around the adult entertainment licensing laws.

“The word burlesque means to send something up. It’s about teasing and titillating rather than stripping, as some people think.”

Mrs Spencer admits that the show, which does contain some nudity, may cause some controversy.

But she hopes no one will be offended.

She said: “There may be a brief flash of flesh, but we’re a classy, lady-like event.

“I’m not a lap dancer, I’m a burlesque dancer, and I find the comparison quite insulting.”

As well as the four who were in town on Sunday, the show will also feature performers with names like Suzie Sequin, Miss Pink and Fluffy and Twinkle Starr.

It will take place at the Pack Horse Hotel on Thursday, September 24.

For pictures, visit: http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/boltonnews/4585656.Burlesque_dancers_turn_heads_as_they_hit_the_town_centre/?ref=rss

Leeds prepares for battle of the burlesque beauties
August 28, 2009

Leeds is bracing itself for a burlesque battle of the Atlantic this weekend.

The UK Versus US Burlesque show at the Alea Casino in Clarence Dock on Saturday will be the first of its kind in the city.

Performers will be trying to tease their way to win the crown for their
country.

The UK team features five dancers, including Miss Alternative World 2009 winner Fancy Chance and Leeds’s very own burlesque diva Bella Besame – Bella Taylor.

Miss Besame currently runs her own burlesque night, The Slippery Belle, every month at Subculture, Leeds, as well as burlesque classes in the city.

She said: “This is the biggest event ever for Leeds burlesque. It’s going to be a spectacular show.

“We have the best performers from near and far and I can’t wait to shake my stuff.”

The US team includes 2007 Tournament of Tease winner Siren Stiletto and renowned bellydancer Kimberly Mackoy.

Miss Besame added: “I’m glad we’ve got Fancy Chance on our side as she is amazing. It could still go either way because the performers are so good. It just depends on the audience.

“There’s no doubt it’ll be a success though, and it might change peoples perception of burlesque. I’ve been dancing 10 years and I’ve seen seedier dancing on MTV than at any burlesque show.”

The show was organised by leedsburlesque.co.uk, a site set up by burlesque performer Cecilia Rouge.

Doors open at 8pm.

The event is black tie and glamour but vintage/burlesque style dress is welcome.

* Tickets start at £15 and are available at www.leedsburlesque.com and Hellraiser in Leeds city centre.

The big tease: Burlesque grows in popularity
August 28, 2009

By MARTHA IRVINE / AP National Writer

Michelle L'amour

Michelle L'amour

CHICAGO — In the Depression-era days of Gypsy Rose Lee, burlesque dancing was about as naughty, and as nude, as it got in public. The emphasis was on the tease more than the strip, until Playboy and harder-core pornography came along in the 1950s.

Now burlesque is back with festivals and club performances, from Amsterdam to Alabama. It’s seen as a chance for some bawdy fun and, some would say, even a little empowerment for the performers who are often amateurs with other day jobs.

But its growing visibility, in mainstream clubs and theaters, is also sparking a debate, and some confusion about what it is and whether it’s appropriate in those settings.

Is it performance art, as some contend? Or is it, as others say, just a (very) thinly veiled excuse to strip in public, even if most performers end a routine in pasties and G-strings?

“The performers are interested in being sexy, but not being pornographic,” says Rachel Shteir, a DePaul University professor who’s written books about burlesque. “They’re trying to strike this middle ground. But that’s very difficult to do in our culture.”

A few recent cases highlight that point.

Earlier this year in New York, burlesque performer Tara Lee Heffner filed a lawsuit against the Learning Annex for referring to her as a “porn star” in an online ad for classes she was teaching. She claimed the label damaged her reputation.

This summer in London, one club owner also shut down long-standing burlesque shows after being told he’d have to purchase an adult entertainment license, something generally reserved for more traditional strip clubs with dancers who make use of laps and poles.

“There’s no doubt that some men watch burlesque and find it as sexy as other forms of entertainment,” says Alex Proud, whose club in the city’s Camden borough bears his last name. “But at the end of the day, the naked bit lasts about three seconds.”

And many audiences of burlesque shows are filled with women, who often focus as much on the costumes, glamour and dancing as anything.

“True burlesque is more of a kitschy Vaudeville act than anything else. It’s all about the art of the striptease, a cheeky and titillating performance that can induce chuckles, cheers and longing sighs all at once,” says Katie Laird, a burlesque fan in Houston.

“Performance is the key word here, not naked gyrations for dirty dollar bills.”

At recent shows produced in Chicago by burlesque dancer Michelle L’amour, performers donned large feathered fans, in the tradition of Depression-era starlet Sally Rand, and costumes that ranged from a scantily clad secretary to a 1950s housewife. The midnight performances at the city’s historic Music Box Theatre also included slapstick comedy acts and a campy magic show, as well as a couple of male “boylesque” performers.

“Even my super-conservative grandmother is totally OK with it,” one performer, Cherokee Rose, said of her work with L’amour’s troupe, the Chicago Starlets. Still, the 28-year-old Chicagoan preferred to use her stage name, rather than her real name, because she’s looking for a job in the psychology field. “I wish people in my field were more accepting of this,” she says. “But sadly, they’re not.”

Most of L’amour’s troupe are professionals or students who started by taking classes with L’amour and moved onto the big stage when she considered them ready. For them, burlesque is a hobby.

The 29-year-old L’amour is, in fact, one of a few dancers who’s made a living at burlesque since its comeback in the last decade. Other professionals include Jo Weldon, a.k.a. “Jo Boobs,” and Dita Von Teese, who regularly makes red-carpet appearances and who’s become a bit of a fashion icon.

Theirs is a style that is more “classic” burlesque, focussed more on subtlety, artfulness and humor. But, L’amour says, it’s no wonder people are confused about what burlesque is when you have harder-core strip clubs featuring burlesque performances or even pop music acts, such as the Pussycat Dolls, referring to themselves as a “burlesque troupes.” Singers Cher and Christina Aguilera also are set to star in a movie titled “Burlesque.”

“It’s become a bit of a pitch word to hook people’s interest,” L’amour says.

In this latest rebirth, even many women can’t decide what they think of burlesque.

“Is it porn? Is it feminist? I would hesitate to say either,” says Shteir, the DePaul professor, whose books include “Striptease: The Untold History of the Girlie Show” and “Gypsy: The Art of the Tease.”

Others say it depends on the context.

“As a feminist, I do not assume that, when women engage in performances that highlight their bodies or sexuality, this is necessarily degrading,” says Barbara Scott Winkler, head of the women’s studies department at Southern Oregon University.

For their part, performers talk about the camaraderie they feel with one another. Often, they create and oversee the shows themselves and make their own costumes.

“It’s about embracing the female form, no matter its size,” says Ruby Rose, founding member of London’s Burlesque Women’s Institute. She led a street protest of the Camden Council’s adult entertainment license requirement and is in talks to get them to reconsider.

In a statement, the council said its only concern was nudity. And that’s an issue that’s not likely to disappear anytime soon, says Molly Crabapple, a New York artist with ties to the burlesque community.

“When you do anything that involves nudity, even performance art, many people want to stigmatize it,” says Crabapple, who founded a group of burlesque-influenced drawing clubs called Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School.

However it’s defined or maligned, Proud, the club owner in London, says he thinks burlesque makes life more interesting – though he has no plan to buy an adult entertainment license.

“Nightclubs should still be a little risque or on the edge. If they’re not, you can just stay home and drink a bottle of wine,” he says.

Martha Irvine is an AP national writer. She can be reached at mirvine(at)ap.org or via http://twitter.com/irvineap

Spotlight On: George/Viktor
August 23, 2009

w8

Name: George Blair IV as Viktor Devonne

Age: 25 playing 29

Location: New Jersey

My act consists of: emceeing, fan dances, clown, vaudeville skit routines.  My music is consistently inconsistent.  I range from classic 20’s sound to Top 40 of 2009.  It’s about the storytelling, not whether or not a burlesque performer from 50 years ago also danced to it.  I have a few personas (costume decisions): the standard emcee in stripes and suspenders; the hobo clown who has lost everything; a vamp/drag; gothic boy — but they are all ultimately Viktor, and even more ultimately-er, me.

I got my start in burlesque: in 2006, helping a friend, who would then become my co-director in managing an burlesque troupe, The White Elephant Burlesque Society.  What was intended (or expected, rather) to be a one-shot became a now 5-year development.  We have since performed in upwards and downwards NJ, Philadelphia, Massachusetts, Rochester, New York City, and are heading to more expansive locations this fall.  But we are very much NJ Burlesque—whatever that they may indicate.  It’s who we are.

The special skills and/or gimmicks I bring to the stage are: a wandering accent, fanciful make-up, stripey stockings, and the cabaret charm.

My dream act is: a live band to back us up while bring the bump and the grind.  In a theater I own.  With money raining down on me.

My influences and inspirations are: Elaine Stritch, Madonna, Joel Grey, Kander & Ebb, the Dresden Dolls, Bette Midler, Alan Cumming, Jonathan Sharp, Cyndi Lauper, Bea Arthur, and Richard O’Brien.  Whether they encourage me how to speak, move about on stage, or push forward and continue just doing it, they’re all very important to me.

The five things I couldn’t live without are: hot showers, comfortable bedding, music, water; and as it turns out, the internet.

If I was an article of clothing I’d be: A really comfortable but classy men’s dress shirt that may not be the whitest it has ever been, may be missing a button, and smeared with lipstick.

The best burlesque performance I’ve ever seen or been in was: Dirty Martini stepped it up a notch when I saw her in New York City at Margaret Cho’s The Sensuous Woman, and I think Julie Atlas Muz is fantastic.  I also need to see Selene Luna again.

The worst was: I was raised to talk about people behind their backs.  Get me a drink—we’ll chat.

The things that make someone a burlesque queen are: fluidity in movement—even if you’re a robot, your body has to make sense with what you’re doing.  One of the most important things to realize is: SLOW DOWN.  If you go too fast, you’re missing the point.  Music is essential.  You can strip or dance to anything, whether it’s Lady GaGa or Duke Ellington.  Madonna said it: “You’ve got to just let your body go with the flow.”  Additional keys include knowing you are fabulous but not essential to anything—check the attitude; be nice.  You never know if you’re being rude to someone who’s very influential and could make you, is having a bad day and excusable, or is packing heat and could end you.  Oh, and baby powder.  It gives your skin a nice finish.

Burlesque – stripping or art? If there’s a single person who just answers “stripping,” they clearly aren’t your bag.  But if anyone just says “art,” well, that’s a lazy person right there.  It’s of course above and beyond that: it’s a state of mind.  If your mind has tassels, go with it.  If your mind is Botticelli, go with it.  It may not always be grand, but it will always be honest.  Being onstage is the biggest lie you can tell.  You are anyone but yourself.  So you might as well be honest about it, and lie like a pro.

My favorite songs to dance to are: Madonna has a healthy sampling.  There’s a remix and a remake album by Shirley Bassey which are fantastic as well.  It’s got to have swank, personality, or a va-va-voom quality.  A lot of people assume that unless it has horns or that raunchy raaaarrr to it, it doesn’t count.  Those people aren’t creative.  You should be able to make anything work.  My favorite numbers are “Devil Wouldn’t Recognize You,” by Madonna; “If You Hadn’t But You Did,” performed by Kristin Chenoweth (which my cohort, Femme Fae La Butche, admittedly has more work than me); “The Imperial March” from Star Wars, and “If You Go Away,” performed by Cyndi Lauper.

If I could change one thing about burlesque, it would be: the implication that it’s easy.

Something that people would be surprised to learn about me is: I am actually a duo of dwarves in an overcoat.

The movie of my life would be called: Viktorian.  A Musical.

If I wasn’t a burlesque performer I’d be: so fucking sad.

The art of Burlesque: Learning to strut a quintessential part of self-esteem TV show
August 23, 2009

Posted by Tanya Enberg

There’s nothing like busting out the dirty cowgirl to kick a gal’s mojo into high gear.

Or how about a wild hair toss while using an ordinary household chair as a sexy stage prop?

No? Well, perhaps a body-gripping corset and a stacked pair of pumps will do the trick.

Now, just add in the ex that broke your heart and, meow, you’ve got yourself a dose of red-hot revenge fiercer than a Manolo Blahnik spiked heel.

That’s the premise behindRe-Vamped,a 10-part series debuting Sept. 6 on Slice, which follows the journey of eight jilted women as they endure an intense training regime designed to help them get in shape and dust off their long-stashed away mojo.

With the high drama of reality TV, jilted gals move into a house together. They work tirelessly with health, nutrition and fitness experts, while mastering some smoking hot burlesque moves, which fully materialize during a sultry stage performance held in front of family, friends — and the exes that left them devastated.

Pamela Sargent, one of the participants, is a curvy blond with a frank attitude and confident demeanour.

But, she wasn’t always that way.

Just a couple of years ago, Sargent hit rock bottom when her almost 20-year marriage unexpectedly collapsed.

At the time, the Hamilton-based couple were considering buying a new home, had a healthy sex life, and, other than the occasional relationship blip, their marriage appeared relatively blemish free.

So, when Sargent’s then husband pulled the marital rug out from under her, her dreams of happily-ever-after shattered like a delicate champagne flute hitting the ground and, in the messy aftermath, so did her self-esteem.

“Mentally, he said he left the marriage eight years before we separated,” recalls the mother of two daughters.

“I thought we were good, and it took me a long time to realize we weren’t. I realize, after all the bulls–t, what I was putting up with.”

What Sargent is referring to his her ex-husband’s habit of prioritizing work over family and “the other” woman who suddenly appeared on the scene.

While Sargent suspects he was having affair, she says he only ever admitted to developing an emotional bond with the woman he’s since married.

“It was really hard to disconnect from it at the time, I really doubted myself and my self worth. How can somebody make love to you and tell you that they love you when it’s all a lie?”

Fast-forward to the present day and Sargent is empowered and vibrant, a remarkable rebound from the low place she was in not too long ago, a time during which she gained weight and slumped into a depression.

“I am in the best place I’ve been in a long time,” Sargent beams. “And even though I am carrying around extra weight, I am strong.”

She’s also bounced back in the romance

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department as well. Last January, Sargent started dating a “fantastic man.”

“I now know that whatever journey I am going to take, that it’s a journey that I am going to succeed at,” she says.

Ironing out the sexy kinks and turning the participants from drab to queens of fab is Kaitlyn Regehr, a vivacious 24-year-old professionally trained burlesque and cabaret performer, who teaches her daringly seductive moves — from gyrating hips and flirty hair flips to straddling a backward chair and shaking the bod cowgirl- style — at Toronto’s Flirty Girl Fitness Studio.

“I think a lot of women are looking for that other side of themselves,” says the outgoing instructor.

“A really important thing about seductive dance is that it’s not about sex … that’s a misconception.”

What’s it about then?

You guessed it — keeping the mojo flowing.

According to Regehr, many women misplace their inner seductress somewhere along the way.

Then, when they finally decide to go looking for it, there’s so much dust built up, they can barely find it.

“Often when we become career women, we become so fearful that we can’t be successful if we’re viewed as sexual beings,” Regehr observes.

“We’re realizing now that we’ve abandoned that side of ourselves and, you know what? We can have it all, and we also want to be viewed as sexy beings.”

– – –

Tantalizing teasing routines celebrate a myriad of body types

Burlesque is booming here in the Great White North and elsewhere around the world.

From tassels and long dainty gloves to snazzy ’50s updos, flirty eye winks and bootylicious shakes and wiggles, burlesque is becoming almost as mainstream as spinning.

In recent years, burlesque troupes have been popping up all over the country, but novices also want to be part of the thrill-seeking seductive inspiration at dance studios or privately at home with DVDs.

While some modern burlesque dancers are edging away from the subtle roots of the movement and turning it into a raunchier spectacle more fitting for pole dancers (bordering on this trend is the Pussycat Dolls), the classic approach is heavily rooted in tantalizing theatrics, playfulness, comedy and satire. In other words, it’s not about stripping down for tips from ogling patrons seated in pervert’s row but, rather, about story, glamorous costumes, cute moves, celebrating a myriad of body types and the art of the tease.

This understanding has led to burlesque festivals in major Canadian cities and has inspired average gals to unleash their own inner Dita Von Teese, one of the most famous modern-day burlesque performers, and author of the book,Burlesque and the Art of the Tease.

It’s a fun workout too. After all, where else do you get to bump and grind while using feathers and fans in class?

Spotlight On: Tiara the Merch Girl
July 27, 2009

saloonchiclName: Tiara the Merch Girl

Age: 23

Location: Brisbane, Australia

My act consists of: Well so far the one proper act I did was a routine based on my Islamic heritage (http://vimeo.com/5000091). I have made acts based off some favourite songs (such as Savage Garden’s Chained to You and the Britney/Beatles mashup of Womanizer/She’s Leaving Home) but nothing totally definite as yet. I think I’d much rather create acts by themes and personal expression, rather than have a few set “acts” per se, though there may be common elements (strong political opinion seems to be a common factor!).

I got my start in burlesque: as a lark – I was doing the dominatrix role in the Vagina Monologues in February and I thought burlesque classes would help with the role. I’ve been doing them ever since!!

The special skills and/or gimmicks I bring to the stage are: A different perspective, as well as a very loud and assertive voice, that makes use of my multicultural heritage without being too much of an exotic token.

My dream act is: Something with Darren Hayes, a German wheel, or based off ideas I have about body image or honouring my heroes. I have some ideas that just need fleshing out!

My influences and inspirations are: Darren Hayes in terms of performance, he is my hero! Kimtortion’s spirit (she’s keeping on despite near paralysis!!) is inspirational. Tempest Devyne jumped in and battled her fears and she’s been such a strong support. Lena Marlene’s Hallelujah act made me cry. Nasty Canasta and Darlinda (Just Darlinda) crack me up with their clever sneaky wit. I’ve become a belated admirer of Michael Jackson’s showmanship. I tend to be inspired more by current events and by the people around me – inspiration can come from anywhere!

The five things I couldn’t live without are: Books, the Internet, love, sleep, hot chocolate.

If I was an article of clothing I’d be: some weird ethnic mashup, maybe a bustier made out of Sari cloth shaped like a kebaya!

The best burlesque performance I’ve ever seen or been in was: Lena Marlene’s Little Match Girl-based routine based on Leonard Cohen/Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah. Quiet, sombre, poignant with her use of fire. made me cry soooo much.

The worst was: I can’t remember names but I have seen at least one that was just some belly wiggling and made me go “uh…what was the point of that?”

The things that make someone a burlesque queen are: Assertiveness and a willingness to go all out to express something.

Burlesque – stripping or art? An artform that is open and welcoming of stripping 😉

My favorite songs to dance to are: Darren Hayes, parodies, Euro dance pop, disco (I’m a disco baby), bellydance/Bollywood. I’d dance to anything tho.

If I could change one thing about burlesque, it would be: That people were more aware of their privilege and didn’t freak out so much when others point it out to them. Seriously, being a *secretary* is NOT THE SAME as being from a minority race!!

Something that people would be surprised to learn about me is: I’m not totally against cultural appropriation.

The movie of my life would be called: “Don’t Tell My Mother”. It’s actually something my boyfriend and I have talked about quite a bit – I’d do something crazy and then tell him not to tel mum! We thought it’d make a good title for my autobiography!

If I wasn’t a burlesque performer I’d be: Some sort of performer, or a stage/production manager, or a social entrepreneur saving the world somehow.