Theater

The Burlesque Shoah

Three Nights, Four Shows, Forty-Four Tits, Two Dozen Satin Opera-Length Gloves, and One Pair of Bedazzled Granny Panties

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Robert Ullman
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JiJi Lee
ATOMIC BOMBSHELLS
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Kevin Kauer/Nark Photo
SINNER SAINT
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Elizabeth Raab
STRIPPED SCREW

Full disclosure: I'm feeling a little conflicted as I sit down to write this piece. This past weekend, I went on a burlesque binge—four shows in three days—and the conflicts of interest began immediately.

A performer at one show, an old friend, sent me a drink. The producer of another show, someone who works at a local orgasm-related enterprise that I've been writing about for years, asked me to "write only positive things!" A performer at a third show said she loved my column, and a performer at yet another show grabbed me on the way out and said that she used to work with my dad in San Diego.

So, yeah, I'm feeling just a little conflicted.

Because the whole purpose of my burlesque binge—Sinner Saint Burlesque at Noc Noc, Stripped Screw Burlesque in Paradise Glossed: Airbrushing the American Dream at Rendezvous, the Atomic Bombshells in Nightfall in New Orleans at the Triple Door, and Cabaret & Burlesque Behind the Pink Door at the Pink Door—was to be critical. Because without some negative feedback, without criticism, the local burlesque bubble is destined to burst.

Remember drag? Drag queens were the darlings of the club and alternative-performance scenes in the 1990s. Back then, every bar had a drag show, every theater was doing a crossdressed production of something-or-other, and no fundraiser or arts event was complete without at least one drag performance. As the scene boomed, the half talents and the opportunists poured in. Soon there were too many shows and too many queens, and a lot of it was crap. The barrier to entry was simply too low: A guy just had to be willing to put on a dress. When audiences caught on—when they finally admitted to themselves that they were watching an awful lot of crap—the drag bubble burst and the audiences disappeared. The drag scene limps along to this day, a poorly made-up shadow of its former self.

While attending burlesque shows, I've detected some of the same weaknesses that led to the downfall of drag. There's the same inflated sense of cultural importance, the same hunger for attention and affirmation that is sometimes confused with talent, the too-low barrier to entry: A girl just has to be willing to take off a dress.

The burlesque revival is going strong—we're in year seven with all the books, documentaries, and classes—but it could all come to an abrupt end. Luckily for burlesque, however, the cure for what ails the art form is present in its DNA. For the last seven years, the local burlesque revival has been about empowering and affirming performers. The time has come to empower burlesque's audience.

It would certainly be in the spirit of traditional burlesque. During vaudeville and burlesque's heydey, audiences were tough. Producers pulled together programs, tossed new acts out onstage, and if an audience was bored or unimpressed, the performer knew it. There was no polite applause, no sense that the performer, by simply walking out onstage, was entitled to anything. Burlesque audiences directed and edited shows by booing, talking during numbers, and occasionally throwing things. And if the burlesque revival wants to live much longer, it should encourage its audiences to do the same.

Thursday night, Sinner Saint Burlesque at Noc Noc: The show began with the MC instructing the audience to cheer whenever one of the girls shimmied or removed an article of clothing. The only "correct answer" when a girl took something off, we were told, was "WOO!"

Being told that the evening's performers can't inspire spontaneous "WOO!"-ing is not a great way to start a burlesque show, but there was a lot of good stuff at Sinner Saint—some great dancing, some great stripping, and a couple of really solid numbers. The show, however, was way too long, with two intermissions and little eternities passing between each number. And there were three routines that an empowered audience would've booed off the stage: an inept, amateurish cancan number that "paid off" by flashing a huge pair of bedazzled granny panties (?); a Charlie Chaplin routine about (I shit you not) making a sandwich; and a short selection from Riverdance. All three numbers felt like padding—and a show that clocks in at nearly three hours does not need padding.

Friday night, Stripped Screw Burlesque at Rendezvous: There was no MC for Paradise Glossed—a welcome change after the meanderings of the MC at Sinner Saint—and this show, unlike most, had more on its mind than reviving burlesque. Stripped Screw is a "post-modern burlesque" troupe, which meant more contemporary music and actual ideas. The five performers stripped about greed, about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, about the devil, fame, pain, and the ways in which women are oppressed by unrealistic beauty ideals. It sounds grim here on the page, but Stripped Screw's show flew by—one hour, no intermission—and the action engaged your crotch and your brain.

One problem for traditional burlesquers is their predictability: Women trot out in dresses, they remove their satin gloves, their dresses, we see their tits, and NEXT! But Stripped Screw managed to play with our expectations and kept things flying along.

Saturday night, the Atomic Bombshells at the Triple Door: Cut the gymnastics number, write some jokes for the MC, and stop lecturing us about the history of burlesque. Don't tell us you're "the custodians of this art form," be the custodians of this art form. It's harder for the Atomic Bombshells to surprise us because they're all about preserving traditional burlesque—but it did happen in one number. An inexperienced hooker sat on a sofa while two more experienced hookers prepared to undress her, presumably for a client. Suddenly, the two older hookers broke into a spirited and accomplished Charleston. When the younger hooker joined them and the three began to tap-dance, well, you could feel the energy level in the room shoot through the roof. This was a surprising and delightful moment in a show that could use more surprises and delight. Many of the numbers were explicitly virtuous—the performers are good citizens for preserving these dances and the memories of the dancers who created them; we're good citizens for showing up to watch and applaud.

Playing it too virtuously gave the show a museum-piece feel that was sometimes deadly. The MC—who should talk less and/or be funny more—kept telling us that the show was edifying. And it was. We learned a bit about the history of burlesque, we learned the backstories of some once-famous burlesque stars, but we didn't see a show that came alive. It was beautiful but static, highly accomplished but it wasn't anything you couldn't see on a cruise ship. It lacked heat, danger, and eroticism.

Saturday night late show, Cabaret & Burlesque Behind the Pink Door at the Pink Door: This one was short and sweet—a little late-night fun, something to put your date in the mood, with more heat and sexiness than the other three shows. And it was the least predictable—with fire eating, contortionism, a drag king, and some actual singing.

All four troupes have to graple with the form's predictability—which is deadly when coupled with the scene's culture of affirmation and support. There's too much self-regard, too much self-love, too much basking in the audience's presumed affections—and not enough effort to win or keep them.

A word about the MCs: Traditional MCs were frustrated losers and schlumps who couldn't get with the girls—just like the frustrated losers in the audience, men who wouldn't be at a burlesque show if they could get the girls.

Sinner Saint Burlesque needs a new MC: She just milled around the stage doing stream-of-consciousness vamping—we only knew she was a comedian because she kept telling us that. The Atomic Bombshells' MC needed to bring more jokes, less history lesson. The weekend's best MC, Armitage Shanks at the Pink Door, struck just the right tone: He was a Victorian music-hall barker, a sinister and louche presence who put some sex in the air and got the acts on and off quickly. Unlike the weekend's other MCs, he didn't seem to think the show was all about the MC.

A word about the dancers: If your entire act consists of parading around in an outfit, and then removing that outfit, that outfit had better be spectacular and the removal of it had better be (a) seamless and (b) compelling. If too many numbers—I'm looking at you Sinner Saint Burlesque—feature girls in very similar outfits removing them in very similar styles, well, that gets tedious after a while. The first Hello, Dolly! dress should get cheers while it comes off, the second should get "Take it off" (read: "Hurry it up"), and the third should get booed off.

I have to acknowledge that I'm arguing with success here. All four shows I saw last weekend were packed. But every last drag show in Seattle was just as packed—until they weren't anymore. Lots of burlesque performers sat in the audience at each of the four shows. It's great that burlesque performers want to see each other's work, of course, and that the scene is so supportive. But a scene that's too supportive and uncritical can become incestuous and closed when performers stop doing it for the audiences and only do it for each other.

It's a sign of decadence—but the wrong kind. It's not the kind of decadence that thrills and arouses. It's the kind of decadence that precedes decay and collapse.

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Comments (112) RSS

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112
All glory to Armitage Shanks!
Posted by Moxie LaBouche on February 13, 2013 at 7:42 PM · Report this
111
Here we are years since you first wrote this article.
You cannot throw a tissue down in Seattle without hitting a "burlesque performer". I find BQ blasé anymore.
Frankly, it has become more of a Ego Boost than an Empowerment. Women in Burly-Q have become arrogant and in many cases unkind, playing high school games of who's most popular within their many cliques. The only ones in the audience are friends of the women in the show.
I have seen supposed Burly Hierarchy on Facebook's Burly Clubs- shred the likes of Dita Von Tease for the Sin of doing an Opium act, "How dare she? She's NOT Asian like me! OMG!" and the cruel treatment of out of towners, who have similar names to more famous performers, slicing them -up and down as if they, are the keepers of said performers reputations, all to look important to them and receive some sort of nod of "yeah, I had your back, how dare they use part of your name!
There are the so called, main stay performers, who serve up venom to newbies, as if to beckon "Look at Me, I am so fucking important, my opinion weighs so heavily, cuz I take off my clothes" . Well La De Da Snot Face McGraw!
The advent of Burly Con has turned burlesque into a quilting club. Women gathered around, Paying a lofty fee to posture- who has the most rhinestones on their costumes, who has the most feathers in their fans.... They have developed a class system, of who's most important, within their back biting "community" .
Somehow Burly-Q has become way less about a titillating art form, for which it was intended, and much more about who wear's the crown. Their reigning "queen" who had how many swipes before they finally handed her the crown to get rid her of yearly competing- over and over again... like 8 times? Can she not see how belittling that was?
The only true burlesque "Star" we have left is Tamara the Trapeze Lady. Who started the majority of this craft to begin with back in 1999. She still possesses grace and a fine tuned sense of Entertainment.
I agree with you Dan, it's is over saturated and on it's way out, all over again, just like burlesque in the 70's. Goodbye.
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Posted by WhatYoNameIs on January 19, 2013 at 2:47 AM · Report this
110
If people think this is a negative article, they need to re-read it. If you put something out there as 'art' (which is what burlesque is supposed to be, yes?) then it will be critiqued.

Dan's aim in this article is to see burlesque thrive and grow, not stagnate and disappear. And a bad show is a bad show, no matter who the performer is and/or what the art being performed is.

Take, for example, the singer/songwriter scene in America. It used to be fantastic: people writing and singing about things that mattered, and trying new things musically. Now? It's AAA radio-ready pop-folk mush, with little or no soul. Even the old-timers have lost their fire (except Tom Waits.. that guy is awesome!) The local 'folk societies' are the worst: they have no sense of what they're doing, and it's just a big old back-patting party when you see them together... and it's sooooooo boring! It makes me sad, as folk music doesn't have to be boring (pick up a Kingston Trio live album for the early 60's to see what I mean; I suggest "Live from the Hungry I")

Burlesque could go the same way: too much "you're awesome" and not enough "hey, here's something that didn't work but might if you try something different with it". Constructive criticism is not a bad thing, folks! But we live in a world of 'dare not criticize' and all that PC garbage; everybody's so afraid to offend someone else. Burlesque doesn't thrive in that mindset: it needs to be fun, irreverent, edgey, even at times offensive. And the crowd should feel free to be a little lewd themselves: this isn't the Disney Channel!
Posted by Slaritbartfast on January 8, 2013 at 2:43 PM · Report this
109
I think Savage's point re: "booing" was more that it's actually sort of bullsh*t to have to instruct your audience how to react. If a performer is not eliciting a desirable response from the audience, that's not really the audience's fault, is it? Seasoned, professional performers should, in addition to having a trained skill set, have the ability to read an audience and get their attention, and ultimately ENTERTAIN them. Allow me to illustrate with 2 examples pertaining to musicians: There is a bar in my neighborhood which used to have regular live-music happenings. The venue is not really suited for it, IMO, because it's very small and generally crowded, both with a strong regular, local clientele, and a bevy of tourists plowing through on the weekends. The musicians often just played regardless of what attention they were or were not getting. However, there are 2 specific occasions that spring to mind (please note that there is no cover at this bar and many people aren't there to hear the music):
1. Singer of a good, but loud band is so pissed off that people in the bar aren't paying attention to the music, that he throws a hissy fit and shouts into the mic for everyone to shut up because he's trying to play. He was met with a couple of "Fuck Yous" and a lot of people going somewhere else.
2. On a different night a soloist with a guitar is having a similar problem. His solution? He unplugged everything, dragged a chair into the middle of the room, stood on it and sang without amplification. He captivated the entire bar.

I'm a burlesque performer who has performed her art in people's homes, in a church, at a pre-school fundraiser, in bar/cabaret settings, in broadway sized thaeatres, in large concert halls, and in front of an orchestra at Symphony Hall. I've performed in front of thousands of people. I've performed in front of 5 people. I have never instructed people how to react to my art. I have tailored my acts to my audiences. I have improvised mid-act if my original concept wasn't doing the trick. I know I can't please everyone all the time, but I do know that I can sure as hell try. If I have an absolutely stunning costume, I better be able to do that costume justice. Hell, the costume should be trying to do ME justice, not the other way around.

@77 You've clearly only seen the burlesque shows that Savage is pointing out as the ones that should get booed.
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Posted by SugarDish on September 15, 2010 at 12:26 PM · Report this
108
I'm really not seeing what everyone's getting worked up about. The article is generally positive about burlesque. I'm a burlesque nerd in NYC, and most of the performers I know who've mentioned this article took it as an uncomfortable but worthwhile warning.

I think anyone who gets worked up about this being meanspirited or anything similar is exactly what Dan's warning about.
Posted by CaptainScorpio on August 19, 2010 at 10:46 AM · Report this
107
To be honest, I don't think 'booing' is the answer.

I've worked with troupes for over 10 years, and some are clearly better/serious more than others, but I would simply say it should lie in the patronage. Even the best troupes really don't make a lot of money, and I think the message can get across without any sort of horrible booing.

That's just fucking rude.

Sure, there's classical, neo-burlesque, and a host of other themed troupes, but it's generally a labour of love.

Since dwindling crowds or packed-houses are a pretty good indicator of interest, I don't see how things should change. For every good troupe, there's three unforgivably terrible ones, but it all settles pretty quickly, regardless.
Posted by Jian Bastille on August 18, 2010 at 7:03 PM · Report this
106
I will try that link again, to Oxblood's response, and many burly-q posts: http://bit.ly/dgVBql
Posted by Melody Mudd on August 12, 2010 at 9:21 PM · Report this
105
the future of BQ is a hot topic right now within the community. its exciting that the infamous Savage has something to say about it. JD Oxblood offers up some further thoughts on the argument of critique, having documented the NY burlesque scene rather heavily for the last few years: http://culturalcapitol.com/2010/08/12/sa…
Posted by Melody Mudd on August 12, 2010 at 9:13 PM · Report this
104
PS...A good place to start for some history and fun pictures of the revival of burlesque in the 90's and beyond can be found in "Burlesque and the New Bump and Grind" by Michelle Baldwin, as well as some great personal insight about the earlier part of this revival through Jo Weldon's new book, "The Burlesque Handbook".

Posted by Roulette Rose http://www.RouletteRose.com on August 8, 2010 at 9:36 PM · Report this
103
Roulette Rose from New Orleans here....

I appreciated your push to look at ourselves with a critical lens, but really- what can one do besides just mind their own business, and I mean business literally. It will all work itself out, and survival of the fittest will take over. You know how that is- you work in a sea of bad writers who could use the same advice you are giving.
If a show/performer actually sucks bad enough, people will stop showing up- I've seen it happen.

But maybe you aren't aware of something since you talk like an expert on the subject- the fittest have survived the last 20 years, not seven like you stated ("The burlesque revival is going strong—we're in year seven with all the books, documentaries, and classes").

The burlesque revival started at different times for many individual performers, many of who were performing burlesque but 1) didn't know that their performances were called "burlesque" or 2)they were strippers who were consciously influenced by historically known burlesque performers and vintaged personas.
My records date the revival getting its jump-start in the early 90's and hitting a peak a couple times since then, and not in all cities at the same time, at that.

For example, there was a New Orleans troupe from the 90's that left a big name for themselves and then kind of just disappeared, and (without any specific record to refer to to say this...) it SEEMS like it might have been another 5 years until burlesque shows left the dive bars to hit bigger stages and triple digit attendance numbers like some of us are seeing now.
And then- we have this lady who tauts herself as the "Burlesque Queen of New Orleans in the 1980's" but I can't find any archival data on her, but it leads me to understand that someone was doing something.

So, I just wanted to say that I think you might be jumping the gun in using this "seventh year" idea, and I love your columns, I've been a follower since I lived in Portland and read "The Mercury", but I think you are missing some historical information to back up your criticism and you are also looking at it from the point of view of an audience member that is seeing a lot of burlesque, too much burlesque (there is such a thing). I would get sick of seeing my favorite performer too many times in a row, and you kind of just made yourself watch a few things that were similar too many times in a row!

While each burlesque troupe/show/performer has their return audience, there is constantly a new audience coming in as well, and if they are too square to be a regular patron, at least many of them look back on it fondly, as the first time they go to see a burlesque show, or a girly show, or their friend the burlesque dancer- and those stories are told often.

Thank you for your insights, they are taken to heart.
Sincerely,
Roulette Rose
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Posted by Roulette Rose http://www.RouletteRose.com on August 8, 2010 at 9:25 PM · Report this
102
wow. as a burlesque performer i can't say that i don't agree with a lot that was said here.
Posted by akynos on August 5, 2010 at 11:54 AM · Report this
101
anyone in NYC looking for a GREAT show should find Epic Win (http://epicwinburlesque.com) they do amazing shows with slightly nerdy themes, including batman and ghostbusters. What's more, their MC is great!
Posted by 84erica42 on July 30, 2010 at 9:09 PM · Report this
BurlesqueScene.com 100
Well, Dan's not named "Savage" for nothing, is he? Maybe he's the "Simon Cowell" of reviewers? In my opinion, some of the harsher criticisms in Savage's piece are callous and unjustified. But the performance weaknesses that he describes do happen in burlesque land and should be striven against for burlesque to prosper.

I am the editor of BurlesqueScene.com here in New Orleans and our audiences don't boo the performers, although sometimes you can tell they're less interested during certain acts. As a photographer, I am very focused on the performer. However at a recent show, my business partner stood off to the side and watched the audience instead of the performer. He was able to specifically see from moment to moment when a performer captured the audience's interest and when they lost it. I presume the performers can see this as well for themselves from the stage, so they must be getting their feedback right away. Whether the audience boos or not, their ultimate vote is with their continuing attendance.

But I don't think booing is the way to go these days, because the women are sharing an intimate part of themselves and that should be respected to a level. These days, Burlesque has become not just performance but a blend of celebration, performance and parade. And here in New Orleans, we never boo a parade.
Posted by BurlesqueScene.com http://BurlesqueScene.com on July 27, 2010 at 12:25 AM · Report this
TINK 99
Hi Dan,

As the Founder and "Grande Fromage" of StripCHEEZ.com - a site devoted exclusively to Burlesque videos and the community and also a fan of the art form, I have to say I agree with the general direction of your article.

I'm currently at the Toronto Burlesque Festival, where your article was presented to a group of us on a panel in a press conference yesterday, It was presented as a worrying critique, but as we discussed it, our opinions revealed an understanding of your sentiments and an acknowledgement that in this wonderful and wonderfully fun, sexy community, evolution is actively in progress and a viewing 4 shows in one community is not an adequate enough sample from which to draw wide-ranging conclusions of the art-form as a whole.

That being said, I've seen a lot of Performers and MC's that need to step up their game as far as entertaining and interacting with their audiences, yet I've also seen a lot of performers really innovating the art form, and really work at what they're doing. When they're on stage, they give us more than we expected and the magic happens.

They will grow Burlesque, they will inspire new performers and audience members and they will definitely have a cultural relevance and worth.

Regards,

TINK

PS: The wonderful April O'Peel of the Screaming Chicken Theatrical Society in Vancouver posted a considered piece in our CHEEZblog on your article:

http://www.stripcheez.com/blog/
Posted by TINK http://www.stripcheez.com/ on July 23, 2010 at 8:39 AM · Report this
98
Wow. you touched on a lot of sentiments here. I feel this to be very relevant for many scenes in the Seattle Art Community.

I've only been producing Events in Seattle for a few years now, but I have also recently started branching out of the city, and have been received with open arms where Seattle fought me tooth and nail, criticized me, and if not prayed for my failure, muttered beneath their breath the many reasons they didn't support me.

Not just with the burlesque scene, or the band scene, or the dj scene, but also with the Art scene, the comedy scene, and the fashion scene.

I've worked with all of them across the board, and a lot of these issues are prevalent in every scene. I don't do it because I can make a profit, in fact I think it's pretty obvious to anybody who has stood by me these last few years that that is nowhere NEAR the case.

I do it because I have a genuine appreciation for the Art Culture. More specifically, I just want to see people pursuing their passions, but for the most part, there is a lack of gratitude, a sense of self entitlement, and an extreme sense of prejudice against anybody who is "outside of the circle."

I don't see this article as negative at all. In fact, I feel like you truly held back as a matter of sensitivity to people who are more than likely personal friends.

Far too many people spend time tip-toeing across the eggshells.

Bravo.

Posted by ActiveRyan on July 20, 2010 at 1:17 AM · Report this
97
I too am getting fatigued seeing girls trying to work their body image/self esteem issues out on stage.

Posted by omgosh on July 16, 2010 at 6:53 PM · Report this
96
#95- Seattle's not exactly a "tiny sandbox", and is known as having one of the most flourishing and professional Burlesque scenes in the country. I am a venue owner in this city (and have also been around the block in terms of booking and producing), and can say that shows like The Atomic Bombshells, the Burlesque Nutcracker and Miss Indigo Blue's Cabaret not only sell out large and elegant venues consistently, but also tour all over the world....I don't know what "beach" you're from, but we have quite an accomplished scene here.
Posted by beachboy on July 15, 2010 at 8:46 PM · Report this
95
#93 - Yes, I am making generalizations - but they are based on thirteen years of booking and managing talent and being around the block.

Everybody thinks their tiny sandbox is the best when they've never been to the beach.
Posted by Screwball Diva on July 15, 2010 at 11:03 AM · Report this
94
great article! i'm a burlesquer and i absolutely encourage heckling should the act deserve it - it's part of what makes burlesque so great: the audience is part of the show. think of shakespeare or chinese opera or any other amazing performance experience - react, throw things (panties, insults, etc), feed the performers with your energy.
Posted by xxO on July 15, 2010 at 12:11 AM · Report this
93
You've just gotta love the rude "fat girls" comments. You know, there are, in burlesque audiences, straight guys who (like me) think it's awesome to see performers who have all kinds of body shapes. I love me some big solid thighs and big rump, or a rounder, curvy body... it's all good, and the variety is part of why burlesque can be cool. Some people can get over the fact that not every girl is shaped like a Barbie Doll.

@91, I think the current scene is a mixed bag and you're making a rather glum generalization. The Bombshells for instance (God, I've said this like 20 times now) put on consistently great shows, the occasional miss sure, but in general they're extremely entertaining. You don't like 'em? Great, but they keep filling the Triple Door for consecutive nights.

You can agree that criticism is healthy and still (as I do) think Dan's article isn't very good. Not because it isn't positive enough, but because you've seen most of the acts/people he discusses, multiple times, and disagree with his assessment. And by the way (as I already said) I've seen some of the stuff he LIKED and I DIDN'T like it, so it's not as if I'm just a pushover.

Posted by Actionsquid on July 14, 2010 at 12:26 PM · Report this
92
Seven years??? Try fifteen at least. This is yet another example of how far behind the (trendy, current) times Seattle is, even in marginal performance art. Additionally, if you are physically hideous, burlesque does not "liberate" anything but my lunch. Ho-frickin-hum.
Posted by squabmeat on July 13, 2010 at 6:42 PM · Report this
91
I am a club night hostess who is also a burlesque dancer and show producer and I completely agree with Dan Savage.

I have been thinking that criticism is what this scene sorely needs.

Put down your torches and pitchforks and listen to the warning that Dan is trying to tell you.

For my mind, he has a much better grasp of the overview of theatrical history than the ones who would criticize him.

Drag died because of it's arrogance and contempt for audiences, (the same kind I see here in these messages.) Before that vaudeville, silent films, minstrel shows, ect.

Audiences are MUCH smarter than you think and burlesque if it is to continue needs to move past the "sideshow amusement" phase and into the "real artform" phase.

This will only happen from criticism and hard work. This group hug, "I'm ok, you're ok" back slapping is pointless.

All we get is a great big heeping pile of "OK."

I find the current scene stagnant and lacking in innovation and titillation.

This alleged supportive community is filled with the same kind of feminine cupidity one can find in any teenage girl's summer camp. It's a crock.

Some of my favorite fans are gay men, 'cause sweetie - if you can turn THEM on then you KNOW you're doing it right!

TOUGH TITS - that's what you get once you become a seasoned performer and you will never become one if you can't learn to take some CONSTRUCTIVE criticism.

I am glad that I was raised as a performer to accept constructive criticism, and to never consider myself above the audience. You have a duty and responsibility when someone buys a ticket to make that ticket valuable.

You CAN be selling out seats one day that are empty the next.

Go ahead and think you can't - If you're looking for me - I'll be the one laughing on the sidelines when it all comes tumbling down!




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Posted by Screwball Diva on July 13, 2010 at 4:20 PM · Report this
FemAppeal 90
I've been performing burlesque for five years and producing for four and I too LOATHE mediocrity, so I try my damndest not to put anyone on my stage (MC or performer) who doesn't quite cut the mustard.

For the most part I succeed, week after week after week.

NYC burlesque is not to be trifled with.

We're creative, intelligent, skilled and we're in it for the fun of it, so please don't come to a show with your I'm Gonna Be A DICK Agenda. Please don't come to a show if all you wanna do is have a conversation whether electronic or otherwise.

Yes, in the end we're gonna get semi-naked (unless we're doing a reverse strip), but if we're doing our jobs, the journey to the end is full of sexy, thought provoking deliciousness.
Posted by FemAppeal on July 13, 2010 at 3:20 PM · Report this
89
The only thing that I would say is come see some shows in New York city. We don't mess around in NYC.

Also I think that as a gay man you aren't really the target audience for burlesque featuring mostly female performers. I have been producing Burlesque and variety shows in New York now for over 4 years. My audiences have grown despite many other shows around me failing.

I also book variety acts, sideshow acts and comedians with the burlesque performers which I think has added to my longevity. For the most part my audience demographic is straight males, straight women and lesbians. We might have one or two gay men, but it's rare. Just as the traditional high quality drag shows probably did not have a large straight male audience, burlesque does not have a huge gay male audience. There are some extremely talented gay male performers but for the most part the audience is straight.

I am also an MC and a damn good one. I work not only in Burlesque but in comedy and various shows throughout New York city. Most New York shows are tight, fast, and include extremely well thought polished performances for the most part. It is survival of the fittest here, troupes are rare as most performers freelance from show to show and I think that alone makes our performers better. Instead of being in a safe happy environment were they are automatically booked such as a troupe, freelancers are forced to compete and as a result the talent pool is much better to pull from.

And as for long shows with long intermissions, that is usually the result of the venue owner hoping to get as much money out of that audience as possible. We have the same problem here with owners pushing for longer and longer shows. I agree that every art form has its peak, and over saturation can kill anything, and I know very little about the Seattle scene, but if you were to see some shows in New York or Vegas I think you would have a totally different experience.

And as for instructing the audience on how to respond to burlesque that is standard. The reason is because today's audience doesn't know how to respond to women removing their clothes in public, I mean how many screams and cheers are heard at a traditional strip club? Also because of the internet, television and movies, most audiences don't quite understand proper etiquette. Ask any theater actor and they will completely agree, cell phone conversations, talking loudly, and generally disrespecting a live performance have almost become the norm.
More...
Posted by Princess Sunshine on July 13, 2010 at 10:05 AM · Report this
88
*Opinions would be the word... not *opinians.
Posted by okayokay on July 12, 2010 at 4:11 PM · Report this
87
#84... My partner is in one of these troups that Dan wrote about, and I am friends with pretty much all the rest of the performers and troupes Dan spoke of. If you are suggesting that my partner, or these other troupes don't rehearse or "put on a production", you are mistaken. I am pretty much a burlesque widower because of the amount of time that goes into creating these shows. These performers kick the shit out of themselves sometimes 5-6 times a week rehearsing to put a production on for you. Yes, there are some shows out there where there are no group numbers, variety, etc. but they are also busting their asses rehearsing their individual numbers. I am not going to argue with people with their own opinians, but I will tell people when they are wrong.
Posted by okayokay on July 12, 2010 at 12:42 PM · Report this
86
#77 The term 'Burlesque' comes from the Italian word 'Burla' and a literal translation of this means 'joke'.

Moron.
Posted by okayokay on July 12, 2010 at 12:31 PM · Report this
85
As a sometimes burlesque performer, I say, "yes, Yes, YES!!!!!" to this review. I agree that there is a lot of good burlesque AND a lot of bad burlesque in Seattle. I agree that there is in Seattle a dearth of good critical feedback. And, I agree that the scene will probably collapse under its own bloated weight if honest criticisms aren't forthcoming, and the troupes don't start listening to the critics.

Part of the problem is that Mr. Savage is only one person--if there were more honest reviews of burlesque (or, really, of all performance in Seattle), his criticisms would be either balanced by others who don't share his views, or corroborated by those who do. More voices will only help this situation.

Every performer will get negative reviews sometimes--it's inevitable. A good performer will use all the reviews, good and bad, to inform their future decisions. Knowing what your audience doesn't like is just as important as knowing what they do like.

I think that what so many people who get into burlesque (or other 'faddish' performance arts) fail to understand is that, first and foremost, it is a PERFORMANCE. That word implies the desire to evoke a response in one's audience, be it titillation, laughter, or shock and revulsion. Beauty isn't necessarily the point--some of the best performers I've seen aren't "attractive" by modern American standards. Conversely, being "hot" does not adequately substitute for a complete lack of the talent, training, and hard work that are the hallmarks of quality performers.
Posted by Miss Teri Yes! on July 12, 2010 at 12:26 AM · Report this
84
I whole-heartedly agree w/you Dan. Some years ago you couldn't swing a dead cat in Seattle w/out hitting a fire performer. Now you can't swing a dead cat w/out hitting a Burlesque performer. That being said, I was a stage hand for a now defunct Burlesque troupe about 5 years ago. Sad that it is now defunct. They put on a "production" from start to finish not just a show where chicks pranced around in an outfit and took it off. There were group rehearsals w/group acts and group choreography. Hours, days and months went into the production of these shows. There was a storyline to each show with vignettes in between acts to tie the storyline together. What I liked about this particular troupe was the thought and hours and days of hard work put behind it. The leader having a theater background helped tremendously in guiding the troupe to a finished product that was more like attending a Burlesque play then a Burlesque show. I haven't see any other troupe do this and it's a shame. I find myself bored when I do see the prancing around and taking off clothes. If I do see someone put some thought into their act, create interest and try to do something new, well I definitely reward that w/hooting and hollering. More often then not they'll just get a clap from me. As an audience member, I'm ready for this latest craze to be over if someone's not bringing anything new to the table.
Posted by cyc on July 10, 2010 at 5:22 PM · Report this
dereksheen 83
oh, and as a side note: to Badger #80. It's not your "job" as an audience member to tell a performer that you don't think they're living up to your expectations in a live setting. Sometimes the rest of the "polite" audience doesn't agree with you, or they might actually be having a good time. So, if you think that said performer is not up to the challenge of entertaining only you, then do us all a favor: Keep your fucking mouth shut, speak your opinions in your inside voice, quietly ask for your money back and go see something you like. Rather than "raging against the machine" and ruining everyone's experience, that they also most likely paid money to enjoy. Also, please let me know when your band/poetry reading/stand up comedy/dance/improv/drag show/burlesque/one man monlogue/play/musical review is happening, so that I may show up and give you a first hand example of what you may not want from an audience. Now, play some Skynyrd!
Posted by dereksheen http://Derektime.com on July 10, 2010 at 4:44 PM · Report this
82
I think it's hilarious that the burlesque dancers on this forum talking about how it was "such a fantastic thoughtful review" aren't the ones who were actually reviewed....you know if Dan had told them that they suck, they would be all over this thing crying sexism and persecution! ALL those BQ dancers are a bunch of self-obsessed babies when the finger is pointed at them!
Posted by Bham on July 10, 2010 at 4:42 PM · Report this
dereksheen 81
Honestly, my argument wasn't about strictly supporting Burlesque per se. It was about a poorly constructed, poorly written article, masked as a review. There was no legitimate criticisms involved, just knee-jerk reactions based on an already present bias. Instead, this was a story about four days Dan spent trying to understand why something he doesn't really like is still popular and mildly succsessful. That is not a review. It's a personal criticism. My problem with this is that Dan, apparently, has some sway in the art community as does the Stranger in general. condemning a performer based on one viewing is irresponsible and suggesting in print that any organization replace said performer is bone-headed. If someone were to lose their paid spot because of something Dan Savage wrote that would definitely suggest that his influence creates pressure in a community desperate to remain solvent and relevant. It would also show how little The Stranger actually cares about the arts and more about how much the arts depend on what some pseudo-hip opinion makers think. I believe that's a dangerous power to give any writer, especially one who doesn't understand the difference between expressing true opinion and fashioning personal and creative memes to further their local cred. But, in the end it's a free weekly paper delivered to a community with a short memory. Next week it will be something else written solely for the purpose of making everyone in the city write someones name a hundred times in a hundred different places for a hundred different reasons. And we will still read every issue hoping that we will see our names or faces in it somewhere...anywhere.
Posted by dereksheen http://Derektime.com on July 10, 2010 at 4:31 PM · Report this
Badger 80
The too-polite audiences are what I dislike the most about Seattle. If somebody is doing a terrible job, then you should let them know, not reward them with fake applause.
Posted by Badger on July 10, 2010 at 3:48 PM · Report this
79
Thank you, Dan. What a fantastic, thoughtful review.

It amazes me that people react with shock when someone says something like "There's a lot of bad burlesque out there, and there's a lot of good, too." Or "If you're not good, you shouldn't expect to be successful." These are the facts in any legitimate art form. Audiences having opinions and standards - gasp, DISLIKING things - means that they believe your chosen medium has value, and they're invested in its quality.

People are talking about burlesque. Yay. Do they owe it to us to be super positive and polite? Hell no. They don't owe that to any performer, in any medium. They actually owe you the opposite: if they like and respect your art, they will interact with it in an intelligent way. "It was great!" isn't intelligent interaction. And if that's all anyone ever gives you, know this: they're either lying, condescending to you or just plain terrified of being un-PC.

Finally, people, this is a REVIEW. Do you really expect reviewers to shit rainbows? Let's all put on our big girl panties and think about the kind of art we're making... that's what a good review should inspire you to do, and that's obviously what this one has done.

Jezebel Express
Posted by jezebelexpress on July 10, 2010 at 2:17 PM · Report this
78
I thought it was a good piece. Burlesque is boring, however. No danger. Give me a backwoods tittie bar any day. Something interesting may actually happen. Imagine that.

Also, I want this piece to get more comments than the tunnel piece. So just doing my part.
Posted by unregistered unwanted on July 10, 2010 at 2:10 PM · Report this
77
Burlesque is laughable.

Part talentless exhibitionists who feel they are above calling themselves strippers and part fatties in it for a group hug.
Posted by Doot on July 10, 2010 at 5:16 AM · Report this
76
Great article and makes me realize how lucky I've been in my burlesque experiences. I've only been to one show, it was at the can-can a couple years ago, and it blew my fucking mind. Now that I think about it, only one girl took off her clothes and she was some world famous dancer. The rest were hilarious acts, some beautiful dancing, gorgeous men doing acrobatics, and a shit ton of Gogol Bordello.
Posted by kersy on July 10, 2010 at 12:12 AM · Report this
75
YIKES, OMG. Way to reduce your argument to a hateful fatphobic age-ist tirade.....that's just mean and lazy. I could care less about burlesque...but I think it's pathetic when someone goes after female performers based on their breast elasticity. Get a grip.
Posted by fruitbats on July 10, 2010 at 12:01 AM · Report this
74
Without negative, there would be no positive. I care, because I want to see some better more creative, more thought provoking , more tantalizing entertainment from these talented artists. Don't tell me, show me is a great saying. Don't tell me your gonna blow my mind! BLOW MY MIND!!! Step out of the boundaries. Trick the audience. Toy with my expectations by exceeding them. I don't want to go to a show knowing exactly what I'm gonna see. I want surprise! If you like seeing the same thing regurgitated over and over again, you're boring. A agree with Dan in the sense that when I go to see a show performed by a group I've seen before, I want it to be different. Switch up the formula! Shake it up! And DON'T bourree in point shoes with you top off when you are flabby and you have saggy tits! It looks super raunchy and your body looks like a Jello Jigglers commercial! I'm just waiting for Bill Cosby to jump out and stick a spoon in you! There are a handful oof spectacular performers out there. Some that were credited and some that were not. But the article resinates with me and many others because the creme de la creme, the ingenious, the outrageous, the hilarious, the titillating are few and far between. If there was a mega group of seattle's best, there would be something to get excited about. Drop the pyramid scheme, consistently pumping out mediocre performers and FOCUS! Think bigger. Think better. Or just ride it out and don't challenge yourselves or in the audiences case, don't challenge your entertainers and watch it slowly become less of a commodity and you're old grannies with even saggier tits being applauded by the same audiences who don't know any better case they've never seen any better. I've seen better. I want better. I crave better. Get better. For the bitches who rock it, and know it, KEEP ROCKIN and keep steppin it up like you always do!
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Posted by OMG OMG OMG on July 9, 2010 at 10:27 PM · Report this
73
this might be one of the funniest things i've ever seen. here's a joke for you all: how many bad reviews does it take to get a burlesque dancer to write...ONE...and once she starts there ain't no stoppin' her...or her boyfriend...or her alias. har har har. hopefully this new found talent in creative comment writing in the burlesque community will evoke some creativity on the burlesque stage. thanks dan for giving these people inspiration.
Posted by stoptheburlesque on July 9, 2010 at 10:17 PM · Report this
72
@70: Why do YOU care so much OMG OMG OMG? For someone who thinks most burlesque is shit, you certainly are wound up on the subject. Do you also go on the music reviews and rant about how all the bands are shitty talentless babies? It's just ENTERTAINMENT people....take some deep breaths.
Posted by Bellboy on July 9, 2010 at 9:18 PM · Report this
71
Your opinion is yours, Dan's is Dan's, and mine is mine. I do find 90% of burlesque to be shit. But there are the gems and the the gems shine. Like any art form, there are greats and there are not so greats. Can't argue with that. BTW, I think you have REALLY BAD TASTE if you enjoy the smug nature of McCan and the blabberings of Lucas... Just sayin.
Posted by OMG OMG OMG on July 9, 2010 at 7:22 PM · Report this
70
then why do you care so much 68?
Posted by OMG OMG OMG on July 9, 2010 at 7:17 PM · Report this
69
I agree with #68....Just as Dan (and all the haters) have a right to express their opinion about these shows, the performers being reviewed have a right to RESPOND to said critique. They aren't "whining" any more than the people on here "whining" about how Burlesque is lame. Everyone has a right to express their thoughts on the matter, including those being reviewed.
Posted by teacherbob on July 9, 2010 at 3:57 PM · Report this
68
@66, while it's silly to get bent out of shape over Dan's piece, you really shouldn't make the mistake of assuming every commenter who takes exception to Dan's review is a performer with a wounded ego. I, for one, as I've already said, just think he's flat out wrong about SS, TAB, and their respective MC's. I also have seen some of the stuff he did like and wasn't impressed. I disagree with most of his of his critique. I don't think SS should ditch Ms. Lucas. I don't think the Bombshells are too traditional.

Just because Dan is entitled to his opinion doesn't mean we have to think it's very valid or informed-sounding.
Posted by Actionsquid on July 9, 2010 at 3:34 PM · Report this
67
The Burlesque Box wasn't pulled- it's alive and kickin. It's just not every week.
Posted by The Anti-Malkmus on July 9, 2010 at 3:15 PM · Report this
66
If Dan had a critical angle before he wrote the piece, it's because "burlesque is on it's 7th year" and most of what's performed in the last 7 years is recycled from it's origin, then over and over again and again, and again. I'm sure he went to watch shows to have something legitimate to critique. If you don't like negative reviews, stop reading! All burlesque gets is positive feedback. It's about time someone said "Hey, quite blowin' the same smoke up my ass". There was positive amidst the critique. Shut up and take some criticism that was extremely constructive, or quit performing all together. BABIES! And Jesus Christ!!! It's one man's opinion! He's paid to write! You're paid to perform! So perform your asses off! If you want to win a personal opinion over, take the critique and work on your shit. If you don't care, ZIP IT! All the whining in the world won't make your performance look any better (and neither will gloating #48...)
Posted by OMG OMG OMG on July 9, 2010 at 3:02 PM · Report this
65
ATTN: ActionSquid #53. Agreed! The Burlesque Box was a lovely addition to the Stranger. However, it was pulled after 3 prints....sad face.
Posted by More Cupcake Arms on July 9, 2010 at 2:59 PM · Report this
64
63 brings the win. There's really no need to freak out on Dan; I don't really agree with his perspective (for starters I love Jasper, The Bombshells, Nicole Lucas, and Sinner saint) but its not like because he didn't like either of those troupes they're going to stop having PACKED shows.

Posted by Actionsquid on July 9, 2010 at 2:44 PM · Report this
63
I do not think that Dan wrote that bad of a review to be honest with you. He has a right to his opinion, and if people that are too lazy/ignorant to decide themselves what they think about these shows, then who really cares? We talk shit about movies that suck and I don't hear anyone telling me to go apologize to James Cameron or anything. Enough people go and love these shows. Do you know that El Gaucho has a show and people pay $225 or more for a ticket and dinner? These performers are the same perfomers that Dan spoke of in his review. I really do not care what he says and if a performer has hurt feelings, then they may need to re-evaluate their chosen profession. I have seen all of these people perform (mostly because I was at all of the shows that Dan was at) and they all have talent. I feel like the people who would be influenced by this article are the same people that would vote for someone based on a commercial. Oh, 49? I am sure the burlesque artist that dumped you is currently my girlfriend. Thanks :)
Posted by okayokay on July 9, 2010 at 1:49 PM · Report this
62
#43. Why did that even matter? You are so willing to tell everyone else who Ronnie is, but have the nerve to post an unregistered comment?
Posted by okayokay on July 9, 2010 at 1:34 PM · Report this
61
#59, if you don't know the difference between viewing something critically and being "there to write a bad review," I hope you aren't a critic.
Posted by Savage is a troll on July 9, 2010 at 1:28 PM · Report this
60
pg13: To be critical is all well and good. To decide to write "a bad review" before even seeing the work you are critiquing is just lazy. As a theater-goer and Stranger reader, I like to think that reviews are at least approached without a pre-conceived critique in mind.
Posted by stella24 on July 9, 2010 at 1:24 PM · Report this
pg13 59
"But you apparently had an angle you were looking to approach it from beforehand."--#58

Yeah, he did. In fact, Dan SAYS SO in the article... He was there to be critical. He was there to comment upon how each show could improve by not just feeding the validation beast and offer some negative feedback.

That, he certainly did. Everyone involved can take it for whatever they feel it's worth.
Posted by pg13 on July 9, 2010 at 1:14 PM · Report this
58
Dan, I was sitting near you at the Triple Door show...before the show even began, I heard you mention to a friend that you were "about to write a bad review". I think you have some very valid critiques in this article. But you apparently had an angle you were looking to approach it from beforehand.
Posted by stella24 on July 9, 2010 at 12:13 PM · Report this
57
@43- True.
@46- Thank you! I <3 u!
Posted by ronnie_porter_was_here on July 9, 2010 at 12:09 PM · Report this
56
@49: "If I go out and see the same fucking pasties, costumes, and acts year after year..."

Why do you continue to go out and see this year after year if you hate it so much? Why not stay home and dwell on the nuances of "art", and let others continue to pack houses of burlesque shows and enjoy what is clearly still a viable form of fabulous ENTERTAINMENT. If you don't enjoy it fine, but why do you care so deeply that others obviously do?
Posted by teacherbob on July 9, 2010 at 11:30 AM · Report this
55
@49: Wow, for someone who thinks burlesque sucks, you seem really personally upset and agitated over this... did a Burlesque dancer run over your dog? Or dump you? I wonder what incredible "ART" your sour face has contributed to the world?
Posted by Johnny409 on July 9, 2010 at 11:17 AM · Report this
54
too artsy - I miss the lower classness of Lusty Lady & Colaccurcio's hooker/strippers out by my car wash in the North End - and the naughty baristas of Everett - with their missing owner

much more sleazy and curious
Posted by Slugbug on July 9, 2010 at 10:56 AM · Report this
53
We get it: The Stranger doesn't like Burlesque.

Yeah, its not like they'd ever add a semi-regular column devoted solely to burlesque or anything. Oh, wait.

Posted by Actionsquid on July 9, 2010 at 9:40 AM · Report this
Cupcake Arms 52
To all you haters: Go ahead and Hate Away...and write as much as you want. I don't give a shit, because I'm doing what I love, and laughing all the way to the bank.

We get it: The Stranger doesn't like Burlesque. Fine. I think even if Dita Von Teese came and sat on your face, you'd still write a crappy review.
Posted by Cupcake Arms http://www.jamiestratton.com on July 9, 2010 at 8:35 AM · Report this
51 Comment Pulled (OffTopic) Comment Policy
50
@40

You know, it's my own prejudice that the desire to create provocative performance featuring men or women often comes from insecurity. And though I do believe it to be true, it doesn't mean that it is true for you, and it's obvious that I have my own issues boiling up here. Hence the sincere apology. People should just have fun, and as long as it aint hurting nobody, then fuck it. Have a good time!!! Sorry again about the comment, it was out of line...
Posted by scratchmaster joe on July 9, 2010 at 12:42 AM · Report this
49
HA HA HA...how many of these comments are from Burlesque dancers and/or their boyfriends/girlfriends???? I love Seattle's ability to embrace the mediocre and fight like a mother fucker for it. Thank you Dan for finally addressing the stagnant Burlesque scene and inadvertently addressing the behind the times reporters that continue to write about it like it's something fresh, new or inventive! If I go out and see the same fucking pasties, costumes, and acts year after year (I swear I saw that lame New Orleans show a couple years ago) there is something hugely wrong. Have no fear Burlesque-ers, good art and artists will survive the demise Burlesque (I predict the demise will happen shortly after Christina Aguilera's Burlesque movie flops) but if history is any indication of how these things unfold good artists will be trading in their pasties for the next fad and great artists will change the world and art as we know it today. I guarantee that it will not be through a regurgitated medium (please refer to the swing revival in the 90s). Thank you Dan for helping the great artists discover that the bottom is about to fall out an Amway style triangle scam based on mutual admiration...like I said before ...how many of you commenters are dancers or their boyfriends/girlfriends??? ps. you made a huge mistake in your article...Jasper McCann is possibly the worst Emcee I've ever seen.
Posted by letitdie on July 9, 2010 at 12:33 AM · Report this
Kitten LaRue 48
Hi there...as the producer of The Atomic Bombshells, I have just a couple of comments. Dan, you hit the nail on the head....as a matter of fact, I happen to LOVE both museums AND cruise ships! :) While it is true that our brand of show does not actively strive to provoke intellectual discourse about body image or other various pressing issues (although that's great if you do), I think there's still quite a demand for what we DO offer...a beautiful, polished, campy, and glamourous show that features Seattle's (and the country's) top names in Burlesque, and offers up a bit of escapism. And I think that the 800+ adoring FANS (I don't have that many friends and family) that fill Triple Door to see us year after year would agree with me.
Posted by Kitten LaRue http://www.theatomicbombshells.com on July 8, 2010 at 11:30 PM · Report this
47
It should also be noted that Dan Savage is sleeping with one of the members of the Can-Can burlesque troupe, who *SHOCK* got an absolutely GLOWING review in the Stranger last week.....hmmmm?
Posted by danman21 on July 8, 2010 at 11:06 PM · Report this
46
I just want to say that #41's comments are nearly the funniest thing I've ever read.
Posted by ronnie fan on July 8, 2010 at 10:05 PM · Report this
Clarence42 45
The Stranger has been noting/advertising burlesque alot lately. My interest has been piqued(noticed the Can-Cans door). I enjoyed the article/review as a "opposing" view point.
@41.I assume Dan means nothing personal.Don't harsh the mellow
Posted by Clarence42 on July 8, 2010 at 9:21 PM · Report this
44
Wow. I regularly read comments on Dan's postings but I don't think I've ever seen people this pissed. I thought the review was fairly positive with some observations based on his experiences. What's to hate about that?

Good on ya Dan. I'm not from the area and don't get to see Burlesque ever but you've piqued my interest. Shortcomings notwithstanding.
Posted by My Name Is on July 8, 2010 at 7:34 PM · Report this
43
It should be noted that ronnie_porter_was_here is the boyfriend of Nicole Lucas, the MC of Sinner Saint.
Posted by Big Whiskey on July 8, 2010 at 7:13 PM · Report this
42
Burlesque performers are like Pageant Babies who've grown up and still want to parade around in sparkly costumes. Except now we've gone through puberty so we have Sweater Puppies and we want to show 'em off. Shunned by some, loved by others, makes you laugh, makes you slightly uncomfortable, but mostly leaves you happy. We may not all be good enough to win a Tiara, but we'll keep coming back everytime with a knew dress and a gleaming white Flipper (I guess that can be a metaphor for pasties or something.)

Face it, you may not like it, but it's never going away, and it's only a matter of time until there's a reality show about it.
Posted by Cupcake Arms on July 8, 2010 at 7:05 PM · Report this
41
Dan,
Your amateur, out-dated, sexist, low, obtuse, philistine ramblings are pathetically ugly.

1) FAIL: You know how you had that moment where you felt "conflicted", that thing is called a conscious and had you used it for good, this could have been a constructive dialogue.

2) FAIL: You say, "Burlesque audiences directed and edited shows by booing, talking during numbers, and occasionally throwing things". WHOA, there MR.! That's just what this world needs is more hostility and ugliness to be encouraged. How would you like it if this were how you were treated? You can pretend like you could take it but I'm willing to bet that it would hurt you. Thank you polite people, for not resorting to stooping that low. Whether it's your thing or not, at least have the decency to walk out rather than to act like a complete idiot. Shame on you for encouraging people to boo each other, BOO ON YOU! It's takes courage for people to perform and you could be the bigger person to just simply dismiss yourself and go do something else. Does that make sense? As a parent myself, I certainly wouldn't teach my children these values, do you?

3)Fail: The other problem with your "Burlesque audiences directed and edited shows by booing, talking during numbers, and occasionally throwing things". Is that you come off sounding like some old fart whom thinks the good ole days were oh so grand. You know what else ruled back then? Open racism, sexism, homophobia, and the list goes on. Openly gay men like you would not be allowed in the position you have… think about that for a second. So , you fail to see how turning back the clock on those behaviors is inviting back the other demons we barely have begun to quell. We need to be kind to each other, Dan. Look in that bitchy black heart of yours and imagine the tragedies we all endure and ask yourself if you're being a part of that problem or not.

You fail to see that we're all in bed together and you're shitting in your own back yard. If you even took the time to get to know these people whom you so unfairly judged their character, you'd feel pretty bad right now. I know a handful of these people and they are some of the warmest, TALENTED people one could meet. I'd love to see you try to do what they do.

4) FAIL: You've abused your power. You have the opportunity to lift spirits and bring more harmony in the ripple we're in. YOU, DAN, could make our city better by lifting, not faulting. It's ok to have critical input but let's not hit below the belt or above it for that matter. Didn't your mama ever teach the thing about "If you ain't got anything good to say...."? It's something like that. Dan, at least try to be a gentleman. The world is short on those.

5) FAIL: You reference the fall of scene on the 90's which really shows how out of touch you are. A lot has changed since then. Did you know there's an African American in office?... I'm just filling you in. Anyway, you remind of when you go to an orientation at something like the SAI and realize how their text and philosophies are embarrassingly archaic. The thing about Burlesque is that it is improving, with or without people like you to poo poo on it. It's so big that they have things called "Conventions". Burlesque is here to stay, so neener, Mr. Sour puss. Every art form is saturated and it all has its course to run… duh! Your point is OLD news. Got something new to tell us?

6) FAIL: I could make a whole book from your errors but that is time I'd rather not waste. The BIGGEST mistake you made to me was attack my partner and her troop. Those ladies have more talent and heart in the pinky than you could imagine. They put on benefits for people here in the community. People with cancer, people whom don't have the money to see a dying parent, and the list goes on and on. They do GOOD for us and get nothing but love back. When was the last time you did something like that? How often are you charitable? The ladies of Sinner Saint are Seattle’s longest running and most packed show for several reasons and you are a classic case of "Pearls before swine".

You've done harm to Seattle but you won't keep us down, trust me. Your narcissism is mediocre and you need to start taking your act right pills.

BOO!
If you were any kind of gentleman, you would apologize to these women.
More...
Posted by ronnie_porter_was_here on July 8, 2010 at 6:55 PM · Report this
SDgolden 40
@38: what an interesting comment. Is this a blanket statement that women who do burlesque have low self esteem? Since you apologized, though I have no desire to attack that comment, I do think it's a very interesting to think about.

I would encourage anyone who believes the statement in #38 to meet some of my peers then. It takes a lot of brass ovaries to do what we do, and though I could never say that a woman hasn't gotten on stage to battle their self esteem issues, I would argue, that those performers don't last for very long.
Posted by SDgolden on July 8, 2010 at 5:31 PM · Report this
39
You know what...that wasn't nice, I take that comment back. I'm sorry. Seriously.

Good for you for pursuing something you enjoy.
Posted by scratchmaster joe on July 8, 2010 at 4:49 PM · Report this
38
I love tits man, but I'm just not turned on by girls with low self-esteem...
Posted by scratchmaster joe on July 8, 2010 at 4:34 PM · Report this
37
36, sure, it would be interesting to read a review of the exact same shows Mr. Savage attended by someone who, as you say "finds women attractive". But on the other hand, consider- I'm a straight guy who thinks nearly every routine I've seen Waxie Moon in to be completely awesome, while I've seen plenty of very lovely women do routines I found really crappy. And similarly, I see plenty of apparently straight women at burlesque events having a perfectly good time.

So I don't think it all comes down to that.
Posted by Actionsquid on July 8, 2010 at 3:21 PM · Report this
36
This review was interesting, and I applaud the dialogue opening up around it.

Now: I would like to see a similarly in-depth review done by someone who finds women attractive. I noticed the "solid numbers" were simply glossed over as such, while the seemingly objectionable routines are emphasized and described in more detail. This is not really shocking when coming from a person who doesn't like to look at naked women.

I'd like to read a review written by someone who really enjoys good burlesque, and could describe to me what they liked about a show in as much detail as Savage uses when describing his distaste for acts that did not turn him on.

While much of burlesque is artistry, theater, costume, and concept, an awful lot of it is sexy women doing sexy woman things.

I wouldn't like to read a book review written by someone who tolerates books but prefers TV.
Posted by heatherly on July 8, 2010 at 2:54 PM · Report this
dereksheen 35
What was your point, Dan? First, you start off by letting everyone know it may not be a fair review because of how personally conflicted you were? Then you compare the burlesque scene to the drag scene? I'll start by qualifying the differences right off the bat: The Drag scene is entertainment at the expense of women. A type of entertainment where the performers aren't celebrating women, but mocking them by amplifying what they see as their faults. The value of the entertainment is in the devaluation of the female personae through dance, music and comedy. Burlesque, on the other hand, is entertainment that seeks to celebrate the female form through dance and striptease. Unlike 'strippers' who are expected to become completely nude and display a sense of powerlessness in order to fill the pure base need of their audience. Burlesque traditionally turns that role upside down by utilizing aspects of performance art, comedy and dance. Minimizing the expectation of nudity and creating a sense of tension where the 'release' is controlled by the performer and not the audience.
These are two completely different art forms. To frame your critique of one performance type by comparing it to a performance of a completely different nature represents a supreme incongruity. In other words: it instantly disqualifies your critique as genuine and robs it of merit. Now, you may say " But,both Burlesque and Drag utilize dance, music, comedy and amazing costumes! They're practically the same?" but that's like comparing improvisational comedy theater to stand-up comedy. Although they contain the word 'comedy' in their respective titles, they are two completely separate art forms.
So, now that that is cleared up, let's move on to point two: what qualifies you to critique Burlesque? At this point it would seem that you don't actually understand the motivation or passion behind the art form. If we approach it from that perspective, that would make you merely and audient. A person purely judging the performance as a spectator with no prior knowledge, or expertise of the art form you are about to witness. A person just wanting to be entertained. At this point your criticism becomes more simplistic; You are no longer a critic of an art form, but merely a critic of your own experience alongside the performance.
To the point concerning the support of other artists becoming participants in the audience and somehow this support network creates an air of neglect, preceding the decay of a healthy scene? I ask you, how much Burlesque have you seen again? Are you a regular audient of these troupes performances? Are you a long time supporter of this scene? Are you present at many Burlesque shows? Or, are you merely predicating your statements based the shows you took in,one each during a four day run, of an art form that has been thriving here for years? If so, then your review is more reactionary and less a professional critique. It seems, at times, in your article, as if you want Burlesque to fail like the drag scene did? Is this opinion based on another bias altogether? Sure does sound like it. How many times have you seen the MC from Sinner Saint Burlesque? Once? And then you recommend, in a paper read by a large contingent of the art community, that they fire her based on the one performance you witnessed? That displays both a lack of professionalism as a journalist and is also a completely ball-less move, by the way. You do realize that you have influence in the art community, right Dan? People actually trust your opinion even though you have displayed many reasons for them not to. Using your pulpit to force someone out of a paid job in the arts, after watching one performance, is a shitty move, Dan. You should be ashamed of yourself. Maybe you should stick to editing a successful sex column, a greatly unbalanced and poorly edited but fun weekly magazine and leave your reviews on YELP!
More...
Posted by dereksheen http://Derektime.com on July 8, 2010 at 2:53 PM · Report this
34
As a former Burlesque host I'd like to add that it's not necessarily the hosts responsibility to get the next act on and off stage on time its really the stage director or producer who should be policing this. As a host our job is to entertain between acts and stall if one of the gals is taking a bit to long which can be troublesome when you host the same event/venue week after week and are tailoring your act to regulars who have seen your routine countless amount of times a desire to stay fresh when mishaps happen is always a hard place to be in.
Posted by adorablecomic on July 8, 2010 at 2:21 PM · Report this
33
@20: "I mean, I have zero interest in monster truck rallies, but do I go to the Tacoma Dome and stand in the crowd hating?"

How do you stand in a crowd and hate? Is it like the un-Care Bear stare?

Expressing an opinion in a forum isn't the same as going out and hijacking an event. Did @17 at any point say that people should *attend* burlesque shows with the intention of hating it?

"What's the point of wishing something you don't enjoy, but lots of over people DO, would 'die out'?"

What's the point of wishing that people who aren't attending burlesque shows keep their traps shut about it?
Posted by Gloria on July 8, 2010 at 1:55 PM · Report this
32
Second response was re: "28" not "29". D'oh.
Posted by Actionsquid on July 8, 2010 at 1:50 PM · Report this
31
All right, 29, a dive-ey nightclub. That's my final offer. For the record I'm definitely a Sinner Saint fan, even if they can be a wee bit inconsistent. But my point was it's a totally different kind of experience than TAB at the Triple door. Not better, not worse, just different. SS is rowdy, unpolished fun; TAB are classic, more produced, more elaborate. Both are usually great.

And 29 makes a good point: there's nothing wrong with traditional burlesque, just as doing something really conceptual doesn't automatically mean you're entertaining. The Bombshells have really, really delivered with some very traditional-type stuff plenty of times.
Posted by Actionsquid on July 8, 2010 at 1:48 PM · Report this
30
Ahem... not to pick a knit, but Sinner Saint's show is 2 hours and 10 minutes (almost exactly). Not "nearly three hours" as Mr. Savage stated. I was there. I timed it.
Posted by grrrrargh on July 8, 2010 at 1:30 PM · Report this
29
I would like to point out that in no way can the Noc Noc be considered a "Dive Bar". That term gets thrown around entirely too much these days.

The Noc Noc is a night club, and a well maintained one at that.
Posted by Unfrozen Caveman on July 8, 2010 at 1:01 PM · Report this
SDgolden 28
I look at our burlesque scene a lot like the music scene in general. A lot of people like it, and they want to try it. So they take some classes (some don't-maybe they wing it) and then they start a band.

It's like any other entertainment form containing self expression-there are good entertainers, mediocre ones, and bad ones. And sometimes, even with years of dedication and training-you might not end up being a good entertainer. Like technically sound guitar teachers might be able to play-but not perform, and a singer without any formal training wins entertainment awards.

Many people take off their clothes (in fact-we all do), but some people do it in ways that touch people in 2 sexy places-their brains and their groins.

With nudity being thrown in though, we will probably continue to see an influx (and continuation) of not-so-entertaining burlesque. Conversely, a few of those newbies will be awesome, and will grow to be excellent entertainers.

Because it hasn't been widely reviewed, besides by The Weekly complaining about muffin tops and tiny blurbs here and there, a lot of people don't seem to understand that there is a difference between entertaining burlesque and not-so-entertaining burlesque. There is burlesque that seems to only cater to the performers themselves (their needs and wants), and burlesque that serves to entertain its crowds.

However, how do we "rank" performers? Where do "newbies" get their feet wet? How candid are we to be with our students about how they entertain? Who gives any of us permission to say? A lot of shows audience power is based on friends and family. Because we are a grassroots type of art-form self produced and funded-only our friends and family and social networks are in the know. Sometimes, in some settings, a check in with our audience as to whether we are really entertaining is impossible. Akin to 4th grade recitals. Also, when nudity is involved the "honesty level" fluctuates. "Wonderful" could really mean "it was ok"-because many people are unwilling to simply not say anything, or to say their thoughts. We can only encourage each other to give compliments when they are truly genuine and to give constructive criticism when asked.

I did wonder if you weren't a little harsh on the traditional form-I've seen a lot of lovely performers, many of them local-that don't need a concept or a discussion to be entertaining. I would encourage people who might be a little disappointed in "traditional" styles to do some more research. I do think you can do an original "traditional" strip tease-and be entertaining. The singing of the National Anthem is traditional and route-but Marvin Gaye's version is somehow "original" and still "traditional".

I do agree that concept heavy burlesque can be more intellectually stimulating-but when it's done poorly-while we are having conversations about the concept, sometimes we often wonder if we were entertained. I'm glad that Dan seemed to find some burlesque containing thoughtfully executed concepts.

It's important above all else as an entertainer to be entertaining, and to hold your audiences good time as utmost important. This holds whether you are doing a concept heavy act or a traditional strip tease.

I appreciate Mr. Savage's attending all the shows he could get to (or heard about), rather than the standard sit in back for one drink and then make glossy statements about feminist movements and un-original arguments about burlesque vs. stripping.

As a performer who was in two shows this last weekend-at Burlesque Behind the Pink Door (I'm also producer) and The Atomic Bombshells-this is the first review that I've looked at for longer than 2 seconds and has left me with some good things to discuss with myself and my peers about what makes a good entertainer or a good show.

Thanks for creating a thought provoking article-and for calling for a quality standard.

More...
Posted by SDgolden on July 8, 2010 at 12:59 PM · Report this
27
This response board is much like the review of the Seattle Burlesque Scene. You are all poorly informed, including you Dan, on performance art. I think it hillarious that the only person in the 4 acts you actually appreciated had a penis, you are jaded and shallow and not good for our community. Burlesque is a fad, like fire performing, roller girls, hula hoops, and the like. It is fun to watch, it is nice to go out and see people doing something they enjoy with talent and skill, there will always be acts and performers that are sub par, but they were all sub par at some time. Why not support something that has a following, builds community, and obviously people enjoy or else they would not be packing out the house.
Posted by jr2 on July 8, 2010 at 12:47 PM · Report this
dan-rad 26
As a local fully-clothed funny person who is occasionally paid money for it, I love that Seattle audiences are so polite and patient. But, there is a very large part of me that feels that many of us artists allow ourselves to be spoiled by it. Having an outside view of the work that you are doing is a great service, and I commend those dancers who are using this review as a launch-pad for open discussions. I've already seen this in action.

While I don't agree with some of the points that Dan has made (encouraging the audience to hold performers to a standard is good, encouraging them to heckle is ill-advised. Pointing out what works and what doesn't work for an MC is great, telling a troupe that they should ditch someone who is very talented after only having seen her perform once, not so much), but that doesn't mean we should throw the baby out with the bath water.

@21. I am in absolute agreement with you on the “I hope people in the Seattle music, theatre, and comedy scenes are taking notes.” This article should be required reading for Seattle performing artists. Let's all take the parts that can help us grow, and leave the rest behind.
Posted by dan-rad on July 8, 2010 at 11:24 AM · Report this
25
sorry for the multiples....server issues.
Posted by Meli34 on July 8, 2010 at 11:24 AM · Report this
24
Like all other art forms, Burlesque doesn't need booing audiences or you, Dan, to help weed out crappy shows from good ones....ticket sales will do that. Audiences will decide what's worth seeing again and again by purchasing tickets to acts that continue to be entertaining and exciting. SInner Saint has had a very long and successful run at Noc Noc for over two years. The Atomic Bombshells have been SELLING OUT large venues like the Triple Door for YEARS. Meaning that fans continue to come back for more time and time again. There are plenty of hacky Burlesque shows in this town that have come and gone before you can even say "Leg Avenue costume", because audiences saw them once and never wanted to again. Your total dismissiveness of troupes that have obviously struck a large and successful chord with a substantial and repeat fan base is just predictable. Polished successful pros=boring, newbie amateurs=progressive.....what a cliche.
Posted by Meaghan33 on July 8, 2010 at 11:15 AM · Report this
23
Like all other art forms, Burlesque doesn't need booing audiences or you, Dan, to help weed out crappy shows from good ones....ticket sales will do that. Audiences will decide what's worth seeing again and again by purchasing tickets to acts that continue to be entertaining and exciting. SInner Saint has had a very long and successful run at Noc Noc for over two years. The Atomic Bombshells have been SELLING OUT large venues like the Triple Door for YEARS. Meaning that fans continue to come back for more time and time again. There are plenty of hacky Burlesque shows in this town that have come and gone before you can even say "Leg Avenue costume", because audiences saw them once and never wanted to again. Your total dismissiveness of troupes that have obviously struck a large and successful chord with a substantial and repeat fan base is just predictable. Polished successful pros=boring, newbie amateurs=progressive.....what a cliche.
Posted by Mel34 on July 8, 2010 at 11:06 AM · Report this
22
Like all other art forms, Burlesque doesn't need booing audiences or you, Dan, to help weed out crappy shows from good ones....ticket sales will do that. Audiences will decide what's worth seeing again and again by purchasing tickets to acts that continue to be entertaining and exciting. SInner Saint has had a very long and successful run at Noc Noc for over two years. The Atomic Bombshells have been SELLING OUT large venues like the Triple Door for YEARS. Meaning that fans continue to come back for more time and time again. There are plenty of hacky Burlesque shows in this town that have come and gone before you can even say "Leg Avenue costume", because audiences saw them once and never wanted to again. Your total dismissiveness of troupes that have obviously struck a large and successful chord with a substantial and repeat fan base is just predictable. Polished successful pros=boring, newbie amateurs=progressive.....what a cliche.
Posted by Mel34 on July 8, 2010 at 11:02 AM · Report this
pasteyboy 21
I agree with a lot of what Savage says and I hope people in the Seattle music, theatre, and comedy scenes are taking notes. However, encouraging hecklers will have live performers surrounding your office with torches and pitchforks. Also, Nicole Lucas is in fact a very funny comedian.
Posted by pasteyboy http://pjorno.com on July 8, 2010 at 11:01 AM · Report this
20
@17 It's not about to die out, because a lot of it is well-done and entertaining and well-attended. What's the point of wishing something you don't enjoy, but lots of over people DO, would "die out"? You're allowed to not go to shows. I mean, I have zero interest in monster truck rallies, but do I go to the Tacoma Dome and stand in the crowd hating? Hmm?
Posted by Actionsquid on July 8, 2010 at 10:51 AM · Report this
Fenrox 19
Wow FUCK YOU comment-people, you are SO DERANGED. I wanted to see the stupid insecure bleetings that I enjoyed with the Stranger vs Theater mess a couple of weeks back.

You stupid fucks, he gave you a bad review! He softened it because of the people who conflicted him. If he left out the pleasantries then you guys would be immolating yourselves on the Stranger's doorstep.

However, Dan had to fuck it up and make an eloquent argument for these shows.

CAN SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE TROLLS!?
Posted by Fenrox on July 8, 2010 at 10:45 AM · Report this
18
I have mixed feelings about this piece. While agree that the scene is maybe blowing up a little fast for its own good, that there's plenty of uninspired burlesque to go with the good, and that audiences should be discerning... but (and I'll grant you, every troupe has "on and "off" nights/shows) I've seen the Bombshells and Sinner Saint many times and what he's describing isn't what I experienced on a typical night. Both are usually quite packed for a very good reason.

Also, it's kind of weird to talk about The Bombshells and Sinner Saint in the same breath. The former put on $25 shows (usually) at the elegant, expensive Triple Door, with stunning sets and costumes, shows you could take your mom to and not be embarrassed. They go months preparing for a run. Sinner Saint performs EVERY WEEK at a dive bar for$12- raunchy, boozy shows with minimal sets and people eating giant plates of tater tots washed down with PBR tallboys.
Posted by Actionsquid on July 8, 2010 at 10:45 AM · Report this
17
I really wish burlesque WOULD just die out. EVERYTHING seems to have a burlesque in it these days.

There's a saying around here referring to anything that was once faddish and now is tired and boring and has long since outworn it's interesting phase. 'the new burlesque.'

Posted by sonder on July 8, 2010 at 10:44 AM · Report this
16
Dan,
Great article.
Fags shouldn't review burlesque.
There are still plenty of drag shows - good ones, too. Don't know where you've been.
Dare you to take the Boylesque 101 course, and put the pasties where your mouth is. Then we'll see about an 'empowered audience'. Don't worry, though, me and my fag friends will be very understanding and supportive!
Posted by Baal on July 8, 2010 at 10:32 AM · Report this
15
I was at the Noc-Noc, standing about 20 feet to your left. I came there to have a great time and was rewarded with a great time. You sat there looking haughty and unimpressed.

Burlesque is about going to a show and enjoying yourself. Evidently you never heard that, or are too icked out by all the vag to get over yourself and just have fun.

The Can-Can number you panned was fun and flirty. The MC was engaging and funny.

I understand you were trying to be critical, but when you start the sow being 'over it' I'm not sure you quite grok the idea of burlesque.

You know why burlesque will succeed where drag queens didn't? Drag queen are not sexy. Burlesque is.
Posted by t4toby on July 8, 2010 at 9:39 AM · Report this
14
Obviously I meant "booing the performers."
Posted by virginia mason on July 8, 2010 at 9:17 AM · Report this
13
I agree with #11. Booing the audience is a terrible suggestion. I've never been to a performance of any kind out here where the audience has booed the performers. I mean, if anyone deserves boo-ing, it's the Mariners, and we don't even boo them. Why target Burlesque? Besides as a performer, you can usually tell when a crowd is into what you're doing based on facial expressions, whether they're talking through your set, etc...boo-ing's not necessary.

It's actually one of the Seattle behaviors that I appreciate as a former east coaster. Yes, the result is that you have to sit through a lot of shitty opening acts, but I'd rather deal with that than live somewhere where people are too afraid to perform because they'll be heckled for not conforming to the crowd's expectations.

Posted by virginia mason on July 8, 2010 at 9:15 AM · Report this
12
Um . . . shoah? That's a really sadness-loaded word to use in this context, considering it's generally used to refer to the Holocaust. I know you sometimes go for shock value, but this was a strange, painful choice, not really worth the near-homonym with "show".
Posted by anony on July 8, 2010 at 12:36 AM · Report this
pg13 11
How tedious would it be for every Burlesque show to become a nightmare for audience members who may happen to be enjoying a particular show...when their enjoyment is ruined by drunken, boorish audience members who feel empowered, that they're "helping" the show by shouting, booing, throwing things...when anyone with an insipid need for attention feels entitled to hi-jack a performance to steal a few seconds of the spotlight for their own dickishness.

If every audience member had the good sense to know what to react to...and how...and if the performers were strongly mentored and experienced with handling a reasonably reactive crowd, this whole "empowering the audience" might have some merit.

But, it only takes one asshole to ruin everybody's night.
Posted by pg13 on July 7, 2010 at 11:53 PM · Report this
10
@8, oh yes, how incredibly new and amazing...the CAN CAN. Snore.
Posted by sniper21 on July 7, 2010 at 10:36 PM · Report this
pugetopolis 9
“The time has come to empower burlesque's audience.”—Dan Savage

What happens then? They get bored with drag or burlesque—yawn. I wonder if eventually the same thing will happen with gay marriage and the gay movement. The gay audience gets bored with it—yawn. And then kaput?
Posted by pugetopolis http:// http://www.snarke.com/ on July 7, 2010 at 10:09 PM · Report this
8
I just got back from a tour up through the pacific northwest (ending up in Seattle) with my Burlesque/can-can troupe. I wouldn't call us real burlesque because we rarely even take many clothes off, but I saw a lot of what you speak of everywhere we went.

We were lauded as new and amazing because, well, we weren't just coming up on stage and taking off our clothes. We had dynamic stories in our dances, actual dancing, and attitude. Plus, nothing's quite like those glimpses of ruffly panties, garters, and stockings awash in the ruffles of a can can skirt.

Your point about MCs is spot on. I've been forced to MC some of our shows. As the token man in my all girl troupe, I often have the extraneous responsibilities. People forget how hard it is to be a good MC and how rare and wonderful a good MC is.
Posted by brookswift on July 7, 2010 at 5:17 PM · Report this
7
I remember a show at the Can Can where the MC decided it was a perfect venue to showcase his mediocre beat-boxing skills.

And don't even get me started on the unorganized mess of Burlesque down at Club Motor.
Posted by Big Whiskey on July 7, 2010 at 5:07 PM · Report this
6
Well done, Dan. Good thoughts, well balanced, and not a moment too soon. As the new (or really not so new anymore) darling of Seattle's performance/entertainment scene, Burlesque has been growing much faster than the standards, creating a sense of bloat and self-indulgence. Good burlesque is a whole lot of fun. A whole lot of burlesque isn't always good. If Burlesque is earnest about being an art form, its practitioners need to grapple with the public scrutiny and vocal criticism that all other art forms do.
Posted by CrankyBacon on July 7, 2010 at 4:21 PM · Report this
5
Thank you, thank you Dan for touching on the topic of MCs.

There's lots of people offering to teach Burlesque dancers, but few people offering to teach MCs. It's almost becoming a dying artform.

The MC of Sinner Saint actually is a stand-up comic, and a pretty good stand-up comic. But telling jokes is only part of being an MC for a burlesque show or any show for that matter. MCs have to keep the tempo of the show.

Armitage is one of the best in the business, IMO, because he can keep a wrangle on the audience, keep the show moving and make it look aboslutely effortless. He also realizes that while he's important, he's not the star of the show. He's a segue.

A lot of MCs, particularly those coming for stand-up backgrounds, try to steal the show because they're used to being in the spotlight.
Posted by Unfrozen Caveman on July 7, 2010 at 3:44 PM · Report this
Mike 4
Sexy, thought/laugh-provoking and technically impressive. The best burlesque acts I've seen had two of those three traits, and they were worth the price of admission. The mediocre ones had only one, and I've seen too many that had none. I've never seen one that had all three.

The thing is that if a burlesque act is only sexy, or only thought-provoking, or only good dance, I'm probably not interested. If I want those things alone, I can always see online porn or a good indie flick or go see a traditional dance performance. Those media are all better at what they do than burlesque, are on par or cheaper, and don't hit me up for tips on an annoyingly frequent basis. Where burlesque and small-venue performance in general has an opportunity to shine is in combining those things.

Posted by Mike on July 7, 2010 at 2:42 PM · Report this
3
I was terrified when I heard you were writing an article on these shows. I assumed you would be a vag hating douchebag who told us to put our clothes back on and get the fuck off the stage. While you had some harsh things to say, I'm totally excited to read your article. Art cannot survive without changing, editing and revising. Thanks for the reminder.
Posted by Heidi Von Haught on July 7, 2010 at 1:27 PM · Report this
kerfuffle 2
Dan, thank you for your honesty and constructive criticism. It's so true that any girl can take off a pair of gloves and a dress and far too many do so. Just because you have tits and aren't afraid to show them does NOT make you a burlesque performer worthy of stage time. And if you have to hold your hand up to your ear and ask the audience to applaud? You're clearly one of the ones who should hang up your pasties and call it good. I know. I did.
Posted by kerfuffle on July 7, 2010 at 12:29 PM · Report this
1
Like any other form of art, music, performance, or writing- I believe the way for burlesque to continue to grow as a performance art form is to refine, edit, turn the eye inward and ponder constructive criticism, and work on truly inspired ideas always. Taking it off doesn't necessarily make a great performance- but ideas and charisma can and often do.

In Seattle, we're lucky to have the Lily Verlaines and the Evilyn Sin Claires whose brains are equal to their beauty. They make me happy, they entertain me- and they make me want to read books.
Posted by Jessica Price on July 7, 2010 at 12:05 PM · Report this

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