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Tuesday Tease: Original Tease

220160-250I recently sat down with Donna Touch of Chicago-based burlesque collective Original Tease to talk about their upcoming show at the White Rabbit Cabaret in Indianapolis. Original Tease is a group of incredibly talented “classic” burlesque performers and their shows are unique in that they incorporate group routines, a musical hostess and comedy, creating an authentic vaudeville-style experience. Be sure to pick up tickets for their Indianapolis show on Saturday, June 22 right over here, before they’re gone!

Donna was kind enough to answer my questions about the origins of Original Tease, their upcoming shows and her experience of taking a burlesque show on the road. She even offers up some great advice to burlesque producers that are interested in hitting the road.

So, without further ado, I give you Miss Donna Touch:

First of all, tell me a little about how Original Tease started. You call yourself a “collective” as opposed to a “troupe”. What’s the difference?
When I started Original Tease it was in response to an opportunity to take over the monthly 2nd Friday night show slot at one of my favorite Chicago bars, Lincoln Tap Room. I had already had a great relationship with the bar and knew the space was ideal for a show, but I didn’t necessarily have the cast yet. I hand-picked and invited a small group of girls to be a part of the initial launch. They all committed to be a part of the show and shared my vision. There are no contracts, group rules or restrictions to participating. We are just held together by our common goals which include putting on a great show and advancing our personal performances. We get together when we need to practice our group routines as well as workshop our numbers, providing a constructive environment for giving/receiving feedback and helping each other out with costuming, dance moves and advice. We are all sharing in the experience and responsibility of making whatever we do great. So far, that has been a stronger glue than a troupe member title and it shows in the quality of what we create.

Do you consider yourselves to be more traditional and/or retro or do you incorporate modern elements into your shows?
We are definitely on the more traditional/retro spectrum. We are the girls that love sparkle, giant headdresses, well placed appliqués and lots of feathers! While we all have routines that are modern in theme, they still really showcase the art of the tease in a traditional burlesque sense.

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Tuesday Tease: The Return of Vaudeville!

220px-How_to_Enter_Vaudeville_coverIn the last half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th, vaudeville ruled American and Canadian stages. Vaudeville performances usually consisted of a variety of different, unrelated acts grouped together on one bill. Typically, this included comedians, musicians, dancers, magicians, actors, acrobats, and, in the more risqué houses, burlesque. Vaudeville was an extension of the travelling medicine shows, sideshows, circuses, burlesque shows and dime museums that had entertained working class audiences around the country in the early half of the 19th century. It basically took the crowd-pleasing elements of these travelling shows and combined them under one roof while, in most cases, toning down the bawdy material, in an attempt to draw in middle class audiences of all ages.

Ironically, despite the attempt to tone down more risqué material, it was in vaudeville that we first started to see America’s fascination with the female form. Many historians believe that it was during the early days of vaudeville that the female body became a “sexual spectacle” in itself. For the first time in American culture the sexualized female form began to permeate popular culture: in the shops, the restaurants, the grocery store and in the newspaper. And as the image of the sexualized female form became more popular with the general public, vaudeville producers began including more female acts where the women would wear revealing attire and tight gowns. Even an innocent sister act would sell better than a comparable male act and many female vaudeville performers were then encouraged to focus less on talent and more on their figure. Eventually, audiences would be surprised when a female possessed actual talent in addition to being good looking.
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