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Striptease with Style: The Return of Burlesque

  • Written by  Jane Brandon
  • Video
Burlesque is a creative form of striptease currently undergoing a revival. Burlesque is a creative form of striptease currently undergoing a revival.

Most people have heard of burlesque and have, at least, a vague idea what it involves - striptease. But the incredible charm of burlesque, and why it has stood the test of time, is its understanding that nudity and sex are both sensual and absurd, and this is explored with theatrical elements beyond merely showing some skin. Burlesque as a genre of entertainment originated in the cabarets and music halls of the Victorian era, on both sides of the Atlantic, and its comedic and musical presentation of striptease remained popular in America throughout the war years. After a few decades of relative obscurity, burlesque has shaken off the dust and donned its pasties once more.

In its latest manifestation, burlesque has become more socially acceptable, even regarded as a positive avenue of self-expression, liberation and empowerment of one's own self-image and sexuality. It allows both the performers and the audience to safely and openly indulge in fantasy and play with personas and style in all types of scenarios, from traditional coquettish to fetish to satirical to "boylesque" (the meaning is in the name) to blood and gore and on and on.

From my experience as an audience member, the effort and willingness on the part of the performers to put themselves out there is received by a supportive and enthusiastic audience. Everyone is welcome and everyone is appreciated, often loudly! This dynamic has created strong communities for those involved in burlesque and often in adjacent areas of fashion, photography, music, art, tattooing, and other forms of performance art, including magic, dance, comedy, side show acts, etc.

Furthering this community spirit is the Burlesque Hall of Fame, the largest archive of burlesque memorabilia in the world. The Hall hosts an annual weekend event in Las Vegas to celebrate the past and present of burlesque. Voodoo Pixie, a performer with the Vancouver-based troupe Screaming Chicken Theatrical Society who will be performing at this year's event both with her troupe and individually as her drag character Hunter S. Johnson, describes the weekend as "a chance to see some of the top burlesque performers from all over the world in one location [and] it's also a great way to see new and innovative aspects of burlesque while also seeing some of the more classic and traditional numbers." Competitions between the up-and-coming and numbers performed by classic burlesque all-stars and past winners are some of what this gathering has to offer.

According to Voodoo Pixie, the BHoF annual weekend is one in which "people go down to Vegas to compete, hang out and cause a sort of wild and sparkly ruckus. . . .The amount of glitter, spandex, crazy accessories and shoes [is] astounding." This year, the event takes place from May 31st to June 3rd. If you're in Sin City, and looking for some sexy entertainment with style and creativity, be sure to check it out. Get details here: www.burlesquehall.com

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Burlesque dancing in its classic form
Last modified on Tuesday, 26 June 2012 19:03

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