Wednesday, October 28, 2009

DAMage Report - Sex & Art: Alive and Well in the U.S.A.

Recently the Blue Moon Cabaret in Seattle brought burlesque to a high-class Seattle steakhouse. Seattle considers itself the 'sexploration' capital of the U.S. and was able to draw a fair-sized audience for the $225 a plate "intimate" show.

After the multitude of topics bemoaning censorship, sexual repression, and worries that we are spiraling backwards into prudish Victorian hypocrisy, i thought it might be time to celebrate those cities and art lovers who not only continue to embrace sensuality in art but promote it.

"Neo-burlesque" is making a comeback according to a handful of sources. The flashy, cabaret-style entertainment with voluptuous women (and drop-dead gorgeous drag queens) has always been a fascinating form of performance art. More artistically-minded than stripping, while still flaunting the art of tease and seduction, burlesque is a feast for the senses. It encompasses the spectrum of raunchy sass to elegant pageantry.

"Burlesque rose to popularity in the 1930s, hit its peak in the late '50s and is now in the midst of a nationwide revival that local performers swear is making Seattle swoon."

Apparently the burlesque revival has found homes throughout the United States with the large communities on the East and West Coasts. New York City boasts the largest community with notable troops and venues including The Slipper Room, Le Scandal Cabaret, and Pinchbottom Burlesque. In Greensboro, NC, there are burlesque revival performances by Foxy Moxy and her "Cabaret Risque" troupe in the Greensboro Fringe Theater Festival. In Seattle burlesque is queen with Miss Indigo Blue, Miss Trixie Lane, The Queen of Shame, Miss Kitty Baby, Ravenna Black, Paula the Swedish Housewife, Vienna Le Rouge, The Atomic Bombshells, Burning Hearts, The Von Foxies, Glitzkrieg Burlesque, and Sinner Saint Burlesque. In California the San Francisco Bay Area is home of the largest monthly burlesque and variety show the Hubba Hubba Revue.

It is interesting to note that in the 20th century, burlesque and cabaret-type shows gained popularity during repressed/depressed decades in our history. Perhaps Johnny is right, and as one segment of the population tries to restrict behavior and force conformity into a polished little box, there will always be another segment breaking free - loudly and with great flourish - declaring their rights to express.

Since burlesque hasn't made its way down south yet, someone is sooooo taking me to a burlesque show in LA when i come visit in January.

The question for you: what do you think of burlesque as an art form and do you think there are cultural parallels between its rival now and its popularity in the past?

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