This past weekend, our East Coast Ambassador A.J. Andrews and I had the honor of attending the Great Burlesque Exposition in Boston. This incredible showcase of burlesque talent was celebrating its 7th year of existence and both A.J. and I were bowled over by the amount of talent that was presented to us over the course of this past Easter weekend.
This week on the Tuesday Tease, I’ll give you a breakdown of, what proved to be, an incredible weekend featuring burlesque royalty and newcomers alike. I personally left Boston feeling inspired and excited for the future of burlesque and I have to give a big shout-out to Scratch and Miss Mina, the Exposition’s founders, for putting on an amazing festival.
So, without further ado, here’s what went down:
Friday night’s kick-off show, The Rhinestone Revue featured a wide spectrum of burlesque talent: from classic burlesque to comedic burlesque routines to boylesque and I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite act since they were all so incredible but I will talk about a few of my favorites.
The Boston Babydolls are Boston’s “home team” burlesque troupe and Mr. Scratch, their director, is the organizer of the Exposition. The act was a Vegas-style number set to the JXL Remix of Elvis’ “A Little Less Conversation.” The only lighting in the act was from flashlights that the girls were holding and they used them to great effect to create an exciting routine that had the audience on their feet screaming for more. To me the act was able to feel new and exciting, while paying homage to classic Las Vegas showmanship. Well done Babydolls!
A couple other highlights for me were two girls from BPT’s hometown of Seattle: the always graceful and stylish Shanghai Pearl (pictured) and Scandal from Bohemia, who did an act to Weird Al’s “My Bologna” that involved meat pasties and a big ‘ol sandwich. The centerpiece of Shangai’s act was an absolutely stunning peacock costume and her effortless grace impresses me every time I see her perform.
Dot Mitzvah did a great operatic routine to an Yma Sumac song. The high notes were not lyp-synced! She sang it all while taking it all off. Boylesque performer Paco Fish did a hilarious routine in a judges wig and robe, which ended with his gavel in a most compromising position and Canadian performers St. Stella and James and the Giant Pasty, did a highly original act that was inspired and super sexy, with references to great works of art.
On the classic side of things, modern-day burlesque legend Jo Weldon did an incredible fan dance that was a tribute to Pink Light Burlesque, an organization that she founded that offers free burlesque lessons to breast cancer patients (See video below). Cherokee Rose displayed some impressive tassel twirling technique and Canadian performer Burgundy Brixx busted out a sweet boa that ended up being a robe in disguise.
Honestly, every act was great so I feel like I’m doing a disservice by not mentioning them all but alas, we only have so much room on this blog.
After the Revue was The Last Chance Speakeasy which had more of a classic nightclub vibe with drinks flowing, food and a Black Jack table. More dancers took the stage and all were great. Personal highlights: Buster Britches hilarious boylesque act in glittery lederhosen, Betsy Propane‘s balloon routine and Cherry La Voix, who did a pretty classic routine loaded with so much sexual energy that the whole room started loosening their collars.
We would’ve stayed all night but alas, we were hosting breakfast the next morning at 7:30am and had to call it a night. But,I got to say, it was a hell of a kick-off and a good omen for a great weekend to come.
I had to get up at the crack of dawn to get the room ready for Brown Paper Tickets’ hosted breakfast and to my surprise a whole bevy of the Boston Babydolls and others were there are 7:30am ready to lead a morning workout. Impressive considering the show the night before went until 1am. I consumed many cups of coffee and AJ and I had great conversations with Seattle home-girl Shanghai Pearl and neo-burlesque legend Jo Welden.
After breakfast, I took the afternoon off to check out the sights of Boston on a beautiful sunny day. Walked through Boston Commons, ate killer Italian food in Beacon Hill, walked along Newbury Street and generally enjoyed taking in the historical buildings, beautiful brownstones and great shops. It’s a treat for this West Coast boy to be in a town with such a rich history, considering nothing in Seattle is over 150 years old.
When I got back to the hotel, AJ and I handed out gift bags to burlesque performers and attendees to Saturday night’s Main Event but decided to pass on the show so we could work on our class for the following day and get a decent night’s sleep. We were bummed to miss the show and judging by the screams and howls coming from the ballroom, it was a doozy.
We did have a great conversation in the hotel lounge with burlesque performer/producer Kitty Von Klawson from Kokomo, Indiana about the state of burlesque in Indiana, the difference between scenes around the country and her upcoming Troma-inspired burlesque show (sponsored by Troma themselves!). Both AJ and I instantly fell in love with her and were impressed, once again, by the overwhelming friendliness and down-to-earth attitude of pretty much every burlesque performer we chatted with during the Exposition.
We also missed the pool party that night but it sure felt good to get a good night’s sleep in preparation for a big, final day of the Exposition.
The last day of the Exposition started with another early morning breakfast hosted by BPT. There were lots of stories from the pool party the night before and lots of hung over dancers dragging themselves in for a little coffee and food. Sounds like the party was a wild time.
We had our “Ticket Your Tease” class that afternoon which ended up being a one-on-one with Seattle-based burlesque performer Whisper De Corvo. We walked her through the site and were able to give her some intensive training on how to use our site most effectively and how to jazz up her event pages so that they catch ticket buyers’ eyes. She was awesome, is an awesome producer and we were so happy to help her with her upcoming Mothers’ Day event. The show is on Sunday, May 12, Mothers’ Day proper and is called “The Language of Flowers – A Burlesque Bouquet to Remember.” If you’re in Seattle, take your mom to, what sounds like, a very unique and beautiful burlesque experience.
Miss Mina hosted a great tea party featuring teas from Jacqueline Hyde Emporium. Mina informed us that Jacqueline is actually a Seattle-based burlesque performer that also has her own tea company! The tea was delicious. I had the “Bad Things” peach oolong (pictured at the right), which seemed like a no-brainer for me since my band is called The Bad Things. The tea was delicious and we had some great conversations over some steamy cups.
The final show, “The Original Newcomers Showcase and Sideshow Ball” was that night and was hosted by Scratch and Miss Mina. This show featured dancers that were relatively new to burlesque, as well as some great sideshow performers. I loved the enthusiasm of these burlesque newbies and mixing the sideshow acts into the show gave it a real, old-time vaudeville feel. Highlight for me were Cherie Sweetbottom‘s Marie Antoinette/disco queen routine set to, in my opinion, the greatest pop song ever written: ABBA’s “Dancing Queen,” Seattlite’s Dahlia Ste Cyre and Marcus Deboyz “Star Trek” inspired routine, Dainty Dandridge‘s classic showgirl striptese, Ginny Nightshade‘s homage to alcohol and Baltimore’s Tapitha Kix mind-blowing tap en pointe striptease.
After intermission we had the drawing for our gift basket that contained a bottle of Death’s Door vodka, Fran’s Chocolates and a couple very cool sipping glasses. Appropriately, the winner was Ginny Nightshade, the dancer who performed the alcohol-inspired routine earlier in the show. Enjoy that booze Ginny! Scratch also said some nice things about BPT and we definitely felt the love from the burlesque producers that were in the house. It was so nice to feel so loved.
And, then, just like that, the show and weekend was over. I have to confess, I was a little sad to see it end and ending with the show that featured, what are sure to be, burlesque’s future stars was a fitting way to wrap up a great weekend of burly fun. AJ and I helped the volunteers strike the lights and stage and there were lots of hugs and best wishes exchanged with so many of our new friends.
I have to give massive credit to Scratch and Miss Mina for doing such a good job of being nurturing and supportive role models for the Boston burlesque scene and beyond. It’s obvious that they both love what they do and that the performers love them dearly. I congratulate them on all their success and can’t wait to see what the future holds for the Great Burlesque Exposition. Thanks for having us guys!
And, mark your calendars, they’re having the Exposition on February 7-10, 2014 next year!
We were exposed to a ton of great East Coast talent this weekend so we thought we’d feature some other incredible burlesque shows happening in New York and Massachusetts in the next couple weeks. If you’re out there, be sure to check out these shows!
Saturday, April 6 I Gotham Burlesque – New York, New York Gotham Burlesque was voted the “Best Burlesque Night” and “New York’s Best things to do and places to go 2012” by Time Out New York. It’s a monthly show with a rotating cast of world-class talent and this months edition features internationally recognized burlesque star Bettina May, who has been called “a jiggling genius” by the NY Daily News. Also on the bill, tap dancer Gin Minsky, dance diva Poppy Tart, international contortionist and aerialist Ekaterina, Hazel Honeysuckle, Foxy Vermouth, world-famous juggler Jen Slaw and the NYC Burlesque Choir, the “tassel twirling troupadours.” The show will be hosted by Shelly Watson, who has been called “A rambunctious, over the top soprano of considerable charm.” by the New York Times. Don’t miss this one folks!
Tuesday, April 9 I The Teaseday Club – Somerville, Massachusetts Presented by the Boston Babydolls, The Teasday Club promises an elegant, eclectic, and esoteric show that answers that burning question “What the heck is there to do on a Tuesday night in Somerville?” (and also the question “Where the heck do I perform in Boston if I’m not part of a troupe or show?”). Each month, The Teaseday Club plays host to burlesquers, sideshow performers, lounge singers, belly dancers, magicians, weirdos, wackos, and wonder-makers.
Saturday, April 13 I D20 Burlesque presents FantaTease – Manhattan, New York Imagine yourself, a mysterious traveling wanderer, traversing the street of Ye Olde New York, when you stumble upon the warm hearth of the Parkside Lounge. You are beckoned into the back room and after paying a few gold coins the show begins with dancing ladies, gentlemen, elves, aliens and who knows what else?! Is this the sort of epic journey you are eager to embark on? Then roll on down to the Parkside Lounge and join in the fun! Hosted by D20 Burlesque founder, Anja Keister the show will include performances by Dangrrr Doll, Foxy Squire, Murder Nurse, Ruby Solitaire, Hazel Honeysuckle, Lewd Alfred Douglas, Iris Explosion and go-go by sexy satyr Suffra gent with music from resident bard, DJ Aderpable.
Image of Shanghai Pearl courtesy of The Artery on WBUR, the Boston NPR station’s website.