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Burlesque around the world

07/09/2016 11:18

MonalisaWe love to see a bit of burlesque from outside of our own experience, and so we were thrilled to see Monalisa Chinda enjoying a burlesque-themed hen night in Lagos. Not familiar with Monalisa? She's a great star in Nigeria, known for her Nollywood roles, and film producer. She married Victor Coker on 1 September, in Greece, after a traditional wedding at her father’s compound back in February but it was that bridal shower that got our attention! Apparently she was styled for the party by Ezinne Chinkata who also styled the Greek wedding. We have to say that Monalisa (in the top hat and pink feather boa) looks a lot more relaxed than some of her girlfriends - we’d guess this is because Nigeria can be quite conservative and the burlesque theme might have pushed some of her besties out of their comfort zones.

The real sweetness of this story is that her new husband, Victor Coker, is somebody whom she’s known since her teenage years - isn’t that lovely?



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Posted By Victoria Barber

Virginia BellWe’ve been looking at the female history of burlesque for some time now, because we love to honour our pioneers and founders and in a recent article in an American newspaper we found a fascinating story about a women who worked in burlesque. Her name was Beverly Schecter and she was the reason that in December 1965, Loew’s Hillside Theatre in New York went burlesque.

 

The two and a half thousand seater theatre became a burlesque venue after no longer providing profitable as a cinema - movie theatre in the USA. As the only female burlesque producer in the USA Mrs Schecter brought over three decades in show business public relations to the job and made it a success.  One of her great schemes was to offer special promotional rates to groups as a fundraising venture. As a result, Loew’s had more couples in its seats than individuals. The success of the theatre meant that burlesque artists from around the world begged to perform for Schecter’s audiences, but she had a clear focus on burlesque as it had been in the heyday of the Minsky brothers. Favourite performers included Virginia ‘Ding Dong’ Bell and Georgia Sothern as well as vaudeville stars like Red Buttons.  As our picture of Virginia Bell shows, there was a combination of high sensuality and warmth that made the venue a perfect blend of fun and sophistication. Also, we love those ruffled knickers so much we sourced some super-cute ruffled pantaloons just to share with our customers!

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Posted By Victoria Barber

The 69 Hour Burlesque Challenge isn’t quite what it sounds like - it’s not a marathon of tassel twirling! Instead it’s a highly charged process by which a burlesque cast will get together to create, develop, learn and perform a complete scripted burlesque show in just 69 hours!

 

Even more audaciously, they are inviting the public to makes suggestions about the theme of the show and what it should contain, so that they can build audience participation into their event. It’s taking place at Coney Island USA - a not-for-profit performance venue that aims to preserve the best of the old school Coney Island atmosphere. So, starting on an our after midnight on Wednesday August 10th and being performed at 10pm on Friday August 12th, the seven-person strong team are aiming to not only write the show but costume and choreograph it for a very discerning audience - tickets just $15.00, for a once in a lifetime experience.

 

One thing we know for sure - it’ll be hot! And by that we don’t just mean saucy, we mean the temperature will be high. So how do burlesque performers keep their look so pristine in the heat of summer?

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Posted By Victoria Barber

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