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National Underwear DayWe’ve been scouring the news for information about burlesque this month and there’s been so much good stuff that we’ve decided to give a little roundup, with a lot of burlesque links, at the end of this blog post so that you can discover some of the weird, wonderful and life-enhancing aspects of the world of burlesque that we’ve been exposed to in July.

 One event that we really did want to focus on though, is taking place in New Orleans in August. Parades are part of the life blood of this amazing city, and it seems that burlesque and parades just go perfectly together there, which might be why two previously separate events are merging to create a National Underwear Day parade. Yes, you heard that right - there is an unofficial national underwear day, and interestingly August 5 is registered as both National Underwear Day and National Oyster Day in the USA - is it just us, or is there a saucy connection between those two subjects?

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Posted By Victoria Barber

Burlesque as art in the news

19/07/2016 12:46

Burlesque as high art

 

Our first story comes from Sydney and looks at Prokofiev’s 1921 opera, The Love For Three Oranges, which runs until July 9th.

 

The reason we’re so interested in the reviews for this production is that it has a strong burlesque element to it. This rarely performed opera has been ‘baffling audiences’ since the 1920s and while it continues to do so today, a modern understanding of the brittleness of celebrity and the secret lives led by public figures will definitely help a modern viewer recognise the kind of themes that burlesque has always addressed - what’s the underlying reality and how do we poke holes in the pomposity of those who want to tell us what to do without being willing to do it themselves?

 

The high burlesque roles in the opera include Clarissa the dominatrix who ‘supervises’ the Prime Minister, jester Truffaldino and the cannibal cook (who presides over things in drag, with an enormous bosom). There are clowns and mercenary servants, devils and hypochondriac Crown Princes and the whole thing makes almost no sense at all in terms of plot - but it makes perfect sense as a mocking commentary on the role of the rich and famous, great and good, and that’s always topical.

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Posted By Victoria Barber

Beauty and bravery on the catwalk

 

Olivia CorkIt’s been a heartwarming month for burlesque world-wide. An event right here in the UK raised over £125,000 for cancer research. Nothing unusual there, but a catwalk show with burlesque performance was definitely a little different. First, everybody’s favourite singer, Rick Astley, not only sang but ‘gave people a feel of his bum’ if they made a donation to the charity! And even that wasn’t the high point of the day. No, it was the fashion show which included catwalk models who had learned a burlesque routine as part of their performance - and who, just incidentally, had all experienced cancer for themselves. Once such is Olivia Cork who as diagnosed with bone cancer aged 14. Some months into her treatment she was told her leg would need to be amputated above the knee to save her life. She performed at the Maggie’s on the Runway event in Manchester, using a prosthetic limb and looking, we think, absolutely fabulous!

 

Her message is profound too, as she says, “Having my leg amputated sometimes leaves me with a feeling that I may not be seen as sexy, so with that in mind I’m here to prove that my cancer treatment certainly didn’t rob me of my femininity or my sexuality. So now, after weeks of rehearsals, here I am, ecstatic to get up on stage.”

 

If you’re loving Olivia’s look as much as we are, we’ve got some hints and tips for you. First that corset - we think that recreating the look could begin with our burlesque bustierLong black gloves are an absolute must (if you’re wearing them in hot weather, dust your palms and wrists with a little translucent powder so they slip off sweaty skin easier) and if you’re desperate for some great stockings, we have opaque black hold-ups with the cutest white bows to complete the perfect burlesque costume.

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Posted By Victoria Barber

The accidental Dita Von Teese

 

This week is all about the way that burlesque creates effects and is, itself, affected. The currently ubiquitous Dita Von Teese has been talking to Vogue again - amongst other things about how she came to choose her name, a pseudonym we now consider synonymous with retro glamour and a certain kind of Hollywood style. So how did it come about?

 

Apparently she was just Dita for years. After watching a film starring Dita Parlo (who was actually born Grethe Gerda Kornstadt) and who was also a big influence on Madonna, she adopted the name. Her aim was to become one of those single name icons - Cher, Madonna etc. Then, when she did her first Playboy shoot in the early nineties they told her she had to have a second name too.

 

Just pause a moment and contemplate that - can you imagine telling Dita she needs to do anything? How stardom changes us …

 

So, she was working in a bikini club at the time and opened up a phone book (remember those? No, us neither, obviously we’re all way too young for that!) and with a girlfriend she started flipping through the index, looking for ‘cool’ names. The one she found was Von Treese. But when Playboy ran the shoot they called her Von Teese and despite her request for them to correct it, they called her Von Teese in the following months issue too.

 

So there you have it - an accidental misspelling or the view of a junior editor at a soft porn magazine made a Germanic surname into a tongue-in-cheek double entendre and cemented the career of an icon - even if it did stop her being known by her first name only!

 

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Posted By Victoria Barber

Burlesque tips for all

26/05/2016 14:50

Burlesque challenges prejudices

 

Burlesque CostumingA burlesque cabaret with a difference is taking place in Vancouver - the performers all have various disabilities and explores the prejudice and institutional barriers experienced by disabled people when trying to express their sexuality. The show is called ‘Sexy Voices’ and explores what it is like to have a libido and a self-defined disability - where does one impact on the other and how.

 

The hope is that the audience will be encouraged to explore the three-dimensional nature of life with a disability and challenge a common misconception that disabled people don't consider sexuality as being just as important as other people.

 

One routine involves a quadriplegic performer offering a comedy routine about how frustrating she finds it to be overlooked by men. She then breaks into a burlesque striptease, getting down to her corset whilst dancing in her chair. As one male performer said, ‘We're seen as asexual people. And sometimes we're even punished for expressing our sexuality.’

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Posted By Victoria Barber

New venues for burlesque acts

 

Amidst all the recent furore about strippers and burlesque dancers being hired for places where the guests apparently had no idea they were about to be treated to a burlesque performance, it’s good read some great news about the role of burlesque in local communities and in the wider cultural world.

 

First up, ‘The Gentleman’s Retreat’ a barber shop and tattooing parlour which has been given a new licence by Doncaster Council - it’s now able ton host burlesque nights and served alcohol. But’s that’s only half the story - the other half was that the licence was appealed by the venue’s owner who said that the strict ‘no under-18s’ police would have prevented his young daughter and even some of his staff, from being able to enter the premises.

 

Whilst certain areas of the property remain off limits to under 18s, the ban has been relaxed for other areas of the business. Of course there are still some people who are uncomfortable with the idea, notably a Pastor of a local Evangelical Free Church who fears  there will problems, ‘The whole tone of the building would just not be suitable for children to be involved in. I think this sort of business and mixing the two things in the same venue is not going to help in any way shape or form.’

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Posted By Victoria Barber