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Tuesday Tease: The Michigan & New Orleans Burlesque Festivals!

Arts >

fancy-pants-mi-burl-fest-13-flier‘Tis the season for burlesque festivals and we got two great ones coming up this weekend!

The lovely state of Michigan will get its first burlesque festival this Saturday in Detroit and we got to chat with the organizers Valencia Starling and Mabel Syrup.

Also, the legendary New Orleans Burlesque Festival kicks off its fifth year on Thursday and we are proud to announce that Brown Paper Tickets is ticketing their workshops! We are so excited to be a part of this legendary festival and we’ll highlight some of our picks for workshops, for those of you heading down to the Big Easy this weekend.

But, first things first: Michigan’s getting its own burlesque festival! This Saturday, September 21, the First Annual Michigan Burlesque Festival will take place at the Hasting Street Ballroom and Tangent Gallery in Detroit. A wide variety of burlesque entertainment will grace the stage on Saturday including: acrobatics, trapeze, silks, chains, hula hooping, traditional striptease, vocal numbers, veil fan dancing, bawdy comedy and more.

The main event will take place in the Ballroom and headliners for the evening include The Weird Sisters Circus aerial troupe, Cleveland’s burlesque queen Bella Sin, and Detroit’s very own Lushes LaMoan. The host for the evening will be the delectable and vibrant Foxy Tann and DJ Shane Bang will be providing audible pleasures. In addition to the star-studded line-up, the Tangent Gallery will be booming throughout the night, lined with artists and merchants displaying and selling their crafts, apparel, sweet treats and more! You can pick up tickets right over here. We recommend getting them now as they’re going fast!

Valencia and Mabel from Fancy Pants Arts and Entertainment were kind enough to take time off from the pre-festival craziness to talk a little about the festival and the burlesque scene in Michigan. Here’s what they had to say:

This is the first year for the Michigan Burlesque Festival. What inspired you to start the festival?   For years, we have performed in cities all over Michigan, and have met so many great and talented performers. Once we started branching out and performing at burlesque festivals out of state, it was only natural to want to take part and showcase the creative capacity that Michigan holds so well.

Can you tell us a little about the performers.   This festival is going to be amazing. We are featuring several talented Michigan burlesque performers, but also many other amazing people from all over the U.S., including Virginia, California, Indiana, Texas, Illinois, Ohio and Minnesota. We also have a handful of international performers coming in for the night, from Australia and Canada. We feel that this festival has received such a wide interest, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to share our love for burlesque with such great people.

What do you feel makes the Michigan burlesque scene unique compared to other scenes around the country?   We are not sure that it is unique in Michigan compared to anywhere else. We have met many performers in our career, and have found that each person is different from the next. It’s not really a state or regional thing. Every burlesque performer brings something special to the table, which is why we opened the doors to performers from all over the world.

There seems to be a nice variety of performance styles represented at the festival: burlesque, acrobatics, freak-show performance. Do you think this level of variety is typical of the Michigan burlesque scene? It’s not a typical trait of all Michigan burlesque shows, but it has been a growing interest in the past decade or so amongst some of the troupes and performers. We chose to have a show that represents what burlesque means to us. And that is an entertaining stage show that features bawdy comedy, daring acts, and, of course, the tantalizing dancers.

What are some of your influences as a burlesque performer and/or producer?   As producers, our goal is to bring people together to celebrate and enjoy the many varieties of burlesque performers from all over the world, and to connect the community with different local Michigan businesses and DIY artists. Our inspirations are the talented people we meet on a daily basis.

As performers, we are inspired by life. Every song we hear, costume we make, tub of glitter we buy, we are envisioning some story to tell you (the audience). Everything can be turned in to a burlesque act. Everything. We really don’t identify with any labels besides burlesque performers. Burlesque has many varieties, and we like to dabble in all of them instead of limiting ourselves to just one type.

Can you tell us what the future holds for the Michigan Burlesque Festival?   Well, we will see how this one goes. But our goal is to keep hosting these festivals every September, in different cities all over Michigan. We love Detroit, but our goal is to encourage all of Michigan to support the burlesque community. Next year we plan to add another day to the festival, along with a handful of workshops, contests, and many more fun surprises.

Based on your experiences thus far on this first year, is there any advice you’d give to producers that are thinking of starting their own festival?  It’s a lot of work. Seriously. Make sure you have a solid team you are working with, and get a good promoter. You will have many obstacles that fall in your lap, so it’s important to stay calm and breathe. Just remember that. Oh, and have fun!


A big thank you to Valencia and Mabel for taking the time out to chat with us about the festival. So excited for the good people of Michigan and for the Michigan burlesque community. Can’t wait to see what next year holds! If you’re in the area, do not miss the show. You can pick up tickets right over here. There aren’t too many left so get yours now!

burlesqueSo, we also mentioned the New Orleans Burlesque Festival. This is the fifth year of the festival and in a relatively short amount of time, this festival has already achieved legendary status. This is partly due to New Orleans’ deep history of burlesque and the inherent charm of the city itself but mostly it’s due to the quality of acts that this festival delivers. The festival draws top names from all over the world and this year is no exception: boylesque performers Ray Gunn and Russell Bruner will be performing at Thursday night’s boylesque showcase STRUT, Friday night’s Mondo Burlesque features performers from as far way as England and Australia and will feature a performance by burlesque legend Tammi True – a headliner at Jack Ruby’s striptease club the Carousel Club in the 60s and Saturday’s Queen of Burlesque show will feature a performance by 2012’s Queen of Burlesque Angi B. Lovely and will be hosted by Seattle’s own Vincent Drambuie!

Brown Paper Tickets is proud to be ticketing this year’s workshops at the Hilton Riverside and here are our picks for this year:

Friday, September 20 I Jazz Music for Your Classic Burlesque Act with Jim Thornton – Bustout Burlesque trumpeter Jim Thornton will give dancers insight in what you need to know about jazz, how to select music, what to listen for, where to find it, working with musicians, the benefits and limitations of live music, and much more!

Friday, September 20 I The Elements with Ray Gunn – Taught by Ray Gunn of the famed Stage Door Johnnies (Best Boylesque  2013 Burlesque Hall of Fame, Best Group – 2011 Burlesque Hall of Fame), this lecture and discussion class for both men and women will cover the basic components of constructing, focusing, and editing a successful burlesque act. Participants will focus on refining composition, identifying the four main elements of an act, analyzing the thirteen types of ‘teases’, and pinpointing an act’s central focus.

Saturday, September 21 I Bumps & Grinds with Ginger Valentine – Perfect your bump and refine your grind with the 2011 Queen of Burlesque, Ginger Valentine. This class focuses on quality of movement and sensuality in classic burlesque, while burning calories and toning muscles. Before you take it off, learn how to tease and tantalize like a pro. Can’t make it to Dallas to for her regular classes? Then don’t pass up this rare opportunity to learn from one the top stripteasers in the world today  Miss Ginger Lee Valentine!

Saturday, September 21 I Sensual Stocking Removal and Eye Contact with Stephanie Blake – Stephanie is a two time Miss Exotic World winner, and is really excited about sharing what she does best.  She has used her performance abilities to get many parts in films and TV (such as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). This class will focus on making members of the audience feel like they are getting a private show by looking at them and showing them you really LOVE what you are doing on stage! Whether you are an amateur or professional, you can use Stephanie’s techniques not just on stage, but in the bedroom as well.

Have fun out there burlesque fans! This is truly a great weekend for the burly-love!