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The Beauty of Burlesque!

This really is all about the ultimate in ‘Girl Power’. Buxom babes strutting their stuff, putting on a glitzy performance and showing the audience how a real woman does it!

What is it about Burlesque that’s making it all the rage? Well for me it all about the glamour! I adore the style, grace and sexiness of the 20’s – 50’s eras. Take a look back to Marilyn Monroe, Rita Haywarth and Betty Grable, and the wonderful hour-glass figures. When women were stunningly feminine and really took care of their appearance. The coiffed soft curls, cat eyes, ruby red lips, and creamy pale complexions. Give that to me any day over the stick figures and orange tanned bodies our society seems to favour today.

And the clothes! Oh…darling…to die for! Skirts and dresses that enhanced your waist line and showed off rounded hips, basques, stockings and suspenders, (and lets face it, they not only look sexy, but you damn well feel sexy wearing them too). High heels that showed off the calf to perfection. Just beautiful!

Burlesque is the showbiz mixture of all that is extravagant from those eras. The revival is called neo-burlesque. Over the last 10 years, women have dusted off pasties and tassels in a rediscovery of classic burlesque, which ended its heyday in the early 1960s with the sexual revolution and increase of sex and nudity in other venues. Now, an over-sexed public is cheering for the sexy glamour of burlesque, which offers a glimpse but doesn’t bare it all.

What’s interesting is that today–amid the powerful influence of the multi-billion-dollar-a-year porn industry–the audience is more middle-class, urban and female. Go girls!

That’s interesting to me, as neo-burlesque is obviously not about the titilation, but about the performance itself. Clearly, then burlesque isn’t just about stripping, because it’s aimed at an entirely different audience.

An article in The Skinny says “Burlesque doesn't pay heed to flimsy modern concepts of beauty, as portrayed by women's fashion and lads' mags. It appeals to the man who is more turned on by a wiggle in a walk than a 'page three stunna'. It has become a cult among the type of women who can admire a beautiful female body without feeling that it threatens her own sexuality.” You can read the rest of the article here

In the US & UK, Burlesque shows have become extremely popular with ladies like Dita Von Teese in the US and Kittie Klaw in the UK at the forefront of the shows.

Today, burlesque’s brightest star is Dita Von Teese. (pictured left) Commanding fees upwards of £50,000 for a five-minute performance, her shows are a carefully crafted homage to the movement’s glory days. Von Teese has been known to base entire shows on props, from a powder compact to a martini glass.

More and more burlesque nights are setting their sights on Scotland. This fortnight, Ministry of Burlesque return with their ‘High Tease’, a mix of saucy cabaret and tongue in cheek striptease featuring the rather wonderful Kittie Klaw (pictured below right), Dusty Limits, Missy Malone and Vixens in Silk.

Clubland has lapped up the burlesque renaissance which started in New York and London and quickly spread across the globe. As well as MoB (Ministry of Burlesque) events, Glasgow boasts one of the hottest burlesque tickets anywhere, with 1700 spilling through the doors at Club Noir each month. It just goes to show: girls and guys can never get enough glamour.

Kitty Claw says “Burlesque plays on the fact that clever people are sexy. The skill of a true burlesque performer lies in wit and suggestion, the saucy wink and knowing smile - not in the actual removal of clothes.

There are many reasons why the burlesque scene has become so popular. People are more affluent today than ever before and are opting for live entertainment over the predictable and over-priced culture of bars and discos. Burlesque entertainment has an intimate, interactive feel and it allows audiences to feel theatrical and sexy themselves.

The roots of burlesque go back as far as ancient Greece but its theatrical heyday was in the Victorian music hall. Burlesque literally means ‘to satirise’ and traditionally it incorporated bawdy jokes and provocative antics, relying heavily on costumes and props. Each routine was designed to entertain the masses and show a delicately gloved finger to the establishment. The movement was exported from Britain to America in the 1860s and gradually reinterpreted as ‘striptease’. Performed by men and women from all specialities, these same traditions live on today.

Burlesque and striptease go hand in hand like a good pair of opera gloves, but they aren’t interchangeable. Burlesque acts must have theatrical values. To burlesque is to make a point, regardless of whether anything comes off or not. Sexiness should be incidental and any striptease should be contextually relevant.

Burlesque theatre is live, interactive and upbeat. It provides access to a non threatening world of the risqué, seductively wrapped in intellect and humour. The active scene provides a focus for socialising and creative exploration and the burlesque ethos allows both men and women to enjoy each other’s ideas and experiment with personal style and latent desires to perform.

Burlesque is now more accessible than ever and celebrated by everyone. The new burlesque renaissance has generated a dedicated industry, a vast hobbyist circuit and a tiny professional set complete with its own emerging stars and celebrity culture. If nurtured now, burlesque theatre will reclaim its rightful place at the top of the bill.”

You can even go to lessons to learn how to Burlesque. I must admit, I’ve always been fascinated by the idea that I could command an audience – even if that audience was one man. What a thrill! Of course, if it’s a private show, it’s up to you how much of that costume disappears ;)

Rose Lindgren wrote an article on ‘earning her tassles’ in which she says “On the last day of class, before we announced our chosen ‘burly’ names and performed in small groups for our classmates, we finally had the chance to learn to use our tassels. After four weeks of getting to know each other, we were all brave and unabashed about our shoogles and jiggles. If there's one message I'd like readers to remember, it's this: unrestrained jiggling is quite astonishingly empowering.”

Now…what was that I was saying about girl power…

Izzy’s avatar
Izzy Cummin


charlotte Featherstone said...

What a great post, and timely, too! I'm writing a Victorian set erotic historical with a music hall dancer heroine. It's set in Blackpool in the 1860's. So, you've given me some great inspiration!

Also, check out Volupte lounge London. Next time I'm in England I'm definitely checking it out. Hey...maybe Claire and the TEB gang can get something going over at the lounge for promo! lol!

thanks again,

Izzy said...

Hi Charlotte! Well glad we could offer some inspiration, and loving the idea of promo too - that sounds like a great idea to me!! I'm off to check out the Volupte Lounge now...

Amarinda Jones said...

"unrestrained jiggling is quite astonishingly empowering.” Hmmm...not sure I am convinced of that.