Burlesque and vaudeville are booming in the South! We recently started selling tickets for an incredible burlesque troupe with a serious vaudevillian streak out of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. They call themselves The Pink Box Burlesque and they’ve been keeping the South steamy for the last five years.
They’re unique in that they incorporate both men and women in the troupe and mix things up with contortionism, live music, hula-hooping, comedy and even live piercing. They really harken back to the grand old days of carnys, rubes and midways while adding their own decidedly modern and seriously Southern take on it.
Pink Box were also sponsors of the first ever Alabama Burlesque Festival which took place this past weekend. It’s great to see the Southern burly scene thrive and produce unique talent like The Pink Box.
I caught up with Pink Box’s main Madam, Mama Dixie and asked her about her troupe, the Southern burly scene, the rise of boylesque and more! Without further ado, I give you, The Pink Box Burlesque!
Tell me a little about the history of Pink Box Burlesque. When did you get started?
We started in 2008 with the intention of doing a one-off charity show. Tickets sold out in 2 hours and people asked us to do it again; so we did. This is our fifth season and it’s never boring! We set 6-10 shows/year (After this, it’s Rocky Horror Picture Show on October 27 at the Bama Theatre, where we all let lose!) and add in pick-up shows throughout the year. It gives us the chance to work with other great troupes in the state and spend some time in our home venues: the Historic Bama Theatre and the Green Bar. We’re all about variety.
What do you think sets the Southern burlesque scene apart from the rest of the country?
I think every regional burlesque scene displays the unique cultural flavor of their surroundings; and, there’s nothing like some deep Southern charm. We got soul down here. It’s a region steeped in the slow and the sultry. Everything moves more slowly in the heat.
Your 5th Annual Masquerade is coming up this weekend on Saturday, October 13. Tell us what folks can expect.
Our Annual Masquerade is the show we wait for all season. It’s where we pull out the particularly tantalizing and amazing acts. This year’s Masquerade hosts our bed of nails, our contortionist boylesque, lots of misfit toys, a bit of live piercing and, of course, live music, comedy, dancing, singing and burlesque..all hosted by me, Mama Dixie, madam of this band of miscreants.
I love that Pink Box is basically a co-ed burlesque troupe. We just sold tickets to the 1st Annual New York Boylesque Festival. Is the boylesque scene taking off in Alabama like it is in the rest of the country?
The Pink Box is all about empowerment – whatever your identified gender. We welcome anyone to our bi-annual Open Calls (Check our event page for details). It’s all about building the most delightful puzzle possible. I love boylesque. I’m excited that it’s taking the stage as its own. I don’t know of another troupe with boylesque in Alabama – but there are budding troupes all over the place.
Who are some of your idols and influences, past and present?
Too many to count. The big names always come up – Gypsy Rose Lee, of course…places like the Cotton Club…but we’re a Vaudeville variety show, too, so the Marx Bros, Will Rogers, those that traveled the Orpheum Circuit, they’re just as important. Circus performers are almost always nameless – but we keep them close to our hearts. Julia Sugarbaker and, personally, I’m a huge fan of Inga Ingenue.
I noticed that you guys were sponsors of the Alabama Burlesque Festival. How long has the festival been around? What sets it apart from similar festivals around the country?
We are! It’s a treat. This is the festival’s first year. They’ve worked hard and we’re excited to see everyone. They’re bringing back some of the burlesque legends from Alabama – those that were ushered off in their youth. This one is set apart because it’s home – everything is sweeter in Alabama.
Do you have any advice for burlesque performers just getting started in the burly scene?
Know yourself. Be yourself. Practice one more time.
Thank you Mama Dixie and Pink Box Burlesque for all that you’re doing to keep the burlesque flame alive in the dirty South. If you’re in the area or headed that way, do not mix The Pink Box! As I said, they’ll be performing their 5th Annual Masquerade this Saturday at the Bama Theater and they’ll also be back at the Bama on Saturday, October 27th performing Rocky Horror Picture Show. Tickets for both shows are available right over here.
See you all next week on the Tuesday Tease.