This Friday and Saturday, the second annual San Antonio Burlesque Festival hits the stage of the Woodlawn Theater in, you guessed it, San Antonio, Texas. While most folks are probably more familiar with the burly scenes in Austin or Dallas, San Antonio is proving to be another hotbed of burlesque talent in the Lone Star State. You can pick up tickets to the Friday Night Teaser here and to the Saturday Night Spectacular here.
One thing I’ve noticed over the past year is more and more burlesque festivals happening in towns that previously were not considered major hubs of burlesque, further proof that the current revival of the art form is spreading rapidly to every corner of the country. This is exciting for those pursuing a career in burlesque as it shows that a potentially lucrative career could be established by just touring the, rapidly expanding, festival circuit.
The co-producer of the San Antonio Burlesque Festival, Jasper St. James, was kind enough to take time out of his crazy, pre-festival schedule to chat a little about the festival, the Texas burlesque scene and to offer a little advice for those of you out there considering starting a burlesque festival in your own neck of the woods.
Jasper is a boylesque performer from The Pastie Pops Burlesque Troupe in San Antonio and has become one of Texas’ leading male burlesque performers. He made his festival debut at the 2012 Dallas Burlesque Festival and went on to become the “Audience Choice” winner at the 2012 Texas Burlesque Festival. He was also recently crowned the 2013 Southern Fried King of Burlesque at the Southern Fried Burlesque Festival in Atlanta, Georgia.
We are honored that he took the time to answer our questions. So, enough from me. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Mr. Jasper St. James:
This is the second year of the San Antonio Burlesque Festival. Can you tell me a little about the festival and what folks can expect from this year’s festival?
The San Antonio Burlesque Festival is a two day celebration of all things burlesque. Last year was kind of a “burlesque introduction” to the city of San Antonio. It caught the attention of a lot of people who were not even aware that the burlesque movement was back, yet alone that there was a burlesque scene locally.
This year, the San Antonio Burlesque Festival is going to be as hot as the Texas heat! We have two stellar line ups of burlesque and variety superstars including our featured performers, Angi B. Lovely (New Orleans Queen of Burlesque 2012), Russell Bruner (Burlesque Hall of Fame King of Burlesque 2012), Coco Lectric (New Orleans Queen of Burlesque 2010), Ruby Joule (Winner of the “Best Debut” and “Most Classic” Awards at the 2012 Burlesque Hall of Fame), and we are so honored to welcome our very first burlesque legend, Miss Nude Universe 1975, Tiffany Carter!
The great thing about the San Antonio Burlesque Festival is the diversity we welcome to the stage and this year will certainly be no different.
What are some lessons learned from last year’s festival? Any changes this year as a result?
Like everything, the first time is never perfect. However, we managed to listen to our fellow performers, audience, and production team and we have hopefully, fingers crossed, fixed the minor issues we faced last year. A lot of our issues were out of our control, like the untimely breakdown of the A/C at the theatre. And then there were some production issues. For example, the laptop that was playing the performers music was not properly connected to the power cord, therefore dying in the middle of a performance (Sorry, Vixy Van Hellen! You are a rock star!)
All of that has been fixed and then some. One of the major changes to the festival this year is the addition of the competition and awards ceremony on Saturday night. We will be awarding several awards including, most original, best tease, best variety and more. But the award all the ladies are really excited about is the San Antonio Queen of Burlesque title. It’s going to be quite the race!
What are some of your other favorite burlesque festivals either to attend or perform in?
We love and respect the Texas Burlesque Festival in Austin. As a performer, they are such a great bunch of people to work with and always provide a killer line up of performers. It has such a great vibe! We always say it feels like one big glittery Texas burly-q reunion!
The Dallas Burlesque Festival is also a really fun festival to be a part of and they really serve up the classic burlesque which is so beautiful to watch!
Our neighbors of the South in Atlanta, Georgia really know how to have a great time at the Southern Fried Burlesque Festival! I love the variety they showcase at their festival. Its a great mix of neo and classic burlesque.
You got some great talent appearing at this year’s festival. Who are you most excited about?
I am of course looking forward to all of our featured performers, especially Miss Tiffany Carter. There is something to be said about watching a burlesque legend perform. It’s always emotional for us as performers to watch these ladies who paved the way for us continue to do what they love.
It’s hard for me to be excited about just a few performers because all of the performers are so different and fabulous, its hard to choose! It’s going to be one for the books. I guarantee it!
The lineup seems to be composed of mostly performers based in Texas. What, in your opinion, sets the Texas burlesque scene apart from other scenes around the country?
I like to think that the Texas burlesque scene is the Toddlers and Tiaras of the burlesque world. Being from the South, we are naturally drawn to the pageantry of burlesque. We love the glitz and glam! However, not all burlesque performers in Texas are classic bump and grind performers. Neo-burlesque has a strong hold in Texas as well. Strong comedy, sideshow, and even nerd-lesque acts add variety and can be found at almost every burlesque show in Texas. And all of this will be evident at the San Antonio Burlesque Festival.
If I’m a burlesque performer thinking about applying to perform at the San Antonio Burlesque Festival, what things should I consider? What are some tips for performers applying to festivals?
I would recommend doing the research on the festival. Research the region and what kind of burlesque scene they’ve established. Submit your strongest acts. Acts that are polished, well choreographed, and have a uniqueness about them always get my attention.
I’ve been noticing tons of burlesque festivals popping up all over the country. Do you have any advice for producers that are considering putting on a burlesque festival in their town?
It makes me so happy to see more and more cities hosting burlesque festivals. I know after establishing the San Antonio Burlesque Festival it helped make our local burlesque community become a lot stronger. There was a big sense of unity and pride after the festival.
As far as advice goes, if you are a performer taking the role of a producer, remember to keep your self and personal preferences in mind when producing but don’t let it rule your decision making. Really focus on the overall picture and try to give your audience the best show possible.
A big thank you to Jasper for taking the time to chat with us. We got tons of festivals coming up this month so check back weekly to the Tuesday Tease as we feature the New Orleans Burlesque Festival, the first annual Michigan Burlesque Festival in Detroit and the 11th Annual New York Burlesque Festival in the upcoming weeks.