A burlesque revival is hitting every major city in the country, and its influence is being felt at in the Fan-Convention community. One of the leaders of the movement is Ms Talloolah Love, Chairwoman of the Atlanta Burlesque And Cabaret (ABAC) Club. She has some interesting insights into why burlesque is so popular as an afterhours convention event.
Modern burlesque is a stylized dance revue that incorporates early 20th Century dance and performance styles, a tribute to early erotic shows, modern ironic comedy, dazzling costuming, and a bit of sexy. It is not the same as stripping, by any means. There is no nudity, and often the goal is entertaining, not simply stimulating the audience. As Talloolah says, it’s always sexy, but never dirty.
Why is burlesque popular at conventions?
Well, first off, it’s a great way to break up the routine for the con-goers who have been doing conventions for years. Panels, bands, raves, panels, bands, raves, wait… burlesque show?
Also, burlesque is modular. The great thing about burlesque in the South is that we have such a wide variety of performers in the region so that any show can be catered to themes, talent and popularity with ease. For instance, my World’s Fair Exposition, to be unveiled at Anachrocon (www.anachrocon.com). this year, was based on a specific vision. I knew what I wanted the show to look like. All I had to do was look through my little Steampunk Rolodex to find the perfect combination of talent to make an appropriate show and VOILA! A thematically appropriate, show!
So you design specific reviews to match specific conventions? Is this typical?
My train of thought, and not everyone agrees, but my train of thought on how a convention burlesque show should run is to make it mesh with the entire convention. If the convention is a free-for-all, then by all means, have a big ol’ variety show. Put something in there for everyone, but keep it zippy. They are not the captive audience a typical burlesque show performs to.
You want to grab them by the short hairs and make sure they stay. One of the great things about burlesque is that it doesn’t just appeal to men. The women in the audience love the show too because of the glamour and the gimmicks. They also appreciate that kind of women who participates in burlesque aren’t fake or phoney…your average burlesque babe is not an airbrush Barbie Doll.
The performers love it when you to cheer for something you like. However, they are not trying to get dollar bills in their G-string, they just want to perform. The mass “ap-peal” is undeniable. No pun intended (wink).
Are burlesque events at Cons fan-centric?
This is my first foray into producing convention burlesque. For my shows, I want it to be relevant to the audience. I want it to be exciting, and I want them to talk about it as the highlight of their weekend.
I say this, with the full knowledge that the burlesque show will be compared other convention events. It could be handshakes and conversations with Edward James Olmos, or seeing Abney park, or riding an elevator with Scott Bakula. Personally, as a fan girl of many things geek, I know what I want to see on stage at a convention– something fun to add to my experience. Something memorable that will stand out in the crowd of other extremely entertaining entertainment.
So someone doing something cheeky and clever to Doctor Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog – except it pasties? That will make my weekend even better!
What funny memories do you have?
Two years ago, I did a show for Dragon*Con. My music went out half way through my number. The sound person could not get it to come back on. Well, The Extraordinary Contraptions saved the day!
They were doing an acoustic set after my number, and Sephora began playing the chords of the song to help me finish my piece, I think their drummer Corbin came in with some drumming. Brilliant! I will always love them for that.
How many conventions do burlesque?
I couldn’t even say. I have gotten to the point now where I believe that you aren’t really a convention if you don’t have a burlesque show. It might be easier to point out the conventions that don’t have burlesque… None leap to mind.
Have you been to a BURLESQUE CONVENTION?
Many many many. But most of them are called festivals. The way they run it, is they have events and workshops during the day, and then at night, there are big main shows, pageants or competitions.
What is your favorite burlesque festival? Why?
My personal fave for conventions has to be The Burlesque Hall of Fame in Vegas (http://burlesquehall.com/). They do a Thursday night showcase of talent, (this is non-competitive) then, on Friday, they have The Legends night. If you can make it through this evening without shedding a tear, you are heartless.
Saturday is the stiffest competition I have ever seen. An utter inspiration of the world’s best and brightest. Then Sunday is a showcase and a pool party! It’s Vegas done right.
Legends night? What is that?
The Legends night is when the ladies who performed burlesque in the 40′s 50′s and 60′s get up and perform, or they do interviews, and a lot of times they have a movie reel of the greatest burlesque performers of all time on the screen. This is also when tributes to the legends are performed by the current greats. It’s truely magical. You just have to be there.
Any others festivals?
Another favorite festival is ABSFest. The Americana Burlesque and Sideshow Festival (http://www.sideshowburlesque.org/). I have performed for it three years running, this year, I am a volunteer for the vending coordination and featured performer.
(giggles) My first solo convention production is being unveiled at Anachrocon. Basically, this is the show I have always wanted to do for a Steampunk convention. What I love and I mean, LOVE about doing burlesque at a Steampunk convention, especially one like anachrocon, is that you can embrace as many eras of the golden age of burlesque as you want. Want Victorian? Do Victorian! Want a bobbed haired, fingerwaved “modern woman” of the 30′s? Go for it!
Add a little of that Steampunk panache and you have yourself the beginnings of a great, thematically relevant burlesque show!
You call your upcoming show the World’s Fair Exposition? Where did you get the inspiration for th1s show?
For The World’s Fair Exposition, I wanted numbers that smack of the kind of spectacle of the old World’s Fair. My personal roots in burlesque are steeped in Little Ejypt, and The Streets of Cairo Exhibition. I did extensive research on Theda Bara, and am currently brushing up on my persistant fascination with Mae West.
I am also an extreme fan of current greats such as the folks from The Yard Dogs, Armitage Shanks, and The Mezmer Society. If you are versed in their works, you will see their influences throughout. So this show is very near and dear to me, and I am very excited about the prospect of showing it to Anachrocon!
I’d like to plug a competition I am in currently that I hope I can get your support. It’s the biggest rockabilly convention in the world. Cars, Burlesque, fantastic rockabilly music, it’s always a good time from what I hear.
This year is the first year I have ever gotten to go, but when I go, I would really like to perform and compete in the big competition on Saturday. In order to do that, I have to be voted in as one of the top four. The competition goes till the end of January. I hope I can count on the convention scene’s support!
How can we help? Just go here: http://www.vivalasvegas.net/vlv14/burlesque-competition Scroll down to the bottom and look for the blonde named Talloolah. Click vote, and wait for your email confirmation