There’s a new girl in town: Rayleen Courtney, Portland contributor.
Burlesque Seattle Press is proud to announce a new contributor! Her name is Rayleen Courtney, and we love her already. She’ll be heading up our “Portland entertainment compound”, dispatching news on Portland’s best and brightest. Some of you may recall a previous posting in which BSP linked to Rayleen’s review of Burlesque- the movie- featured in the Portland Mercury; she also happens to be the founder of Portland burlesque company SinnSavvy Productions, a friend to the Portland burlesque community, and a mega-fan of all things that shimmer and shake. For her first dispatch, Rayleen tackled an overview on what’s what in Portland revues:
Five years ago, one was hard-pressed to quantify the burlesque happenings in Portland, Oregon as a “community” or even a “scene”. Fans of the timeless art would converge when nationally touring burlycue events would sashay through, and though local productions were not completely uncommon, patrons desirous of titillating entertainment would often find themselves on a trek to Seattle to locate it. Fast forward to 2011: Portland-based burlesque producers are working tirelessly to present quality entertainment for the city’s ever-growing fan base. Through high quality ongoing revues, many a devotee has been created by chancing upon a show for the first time- and Portland’s burlesquers now find their artistry in demand by venues and productions that in years past, might not have glanced twice at a feather fan.
Portland is blessed with a few ongoing burlesque shows and an abundance of unique one-offs. Producers range from veterans to first-timers, and the desire to present burlesque to an audience is en vogue in the city’s exotic arts community. Some productions wax and wane, others adhere tightly to a regimented schedule; originators have found success via both methods.
The city boasts only one weekly revue: Savoir Faire, produced by SinnSavvy Productions (this author’s production house). With a rotating cast featuring the majority of local burlesque performers, it also frequently hosts traveling entertainers from other parts of the country. Moving into its second year, this show exudes a uniquely laid back vibe accompanying its lounge setting. As with all SinnSavvy shows, Savoir Faire is hosted by the nonpareil “The Emceeiam”, who masterfully blends wit, satire, and charm to create the perfect glue binding Portland’s veritable weekly revue. Find Savoir Faire at the Hawthorne Theatre Lounge (SE Hawthorne Boulevard at 39th Avenue) every Thursday at 10pm.
Two monthly revues in Portland have delighted audiences without fail for over a year. The city’s longest running show of its kind, The Phoenix Variety Revue, takes place at Kelly’s Olympian (426 SW Washington, Downtown Portland) on the second Sunday of every month. With credit to its mastermind, Zora Phoenix (known as “Portland’s Unstoppable Performer/Producer/Emcee Trifecta”), the show has become a community favorite. With a focus on burlesque and the addition of belly dance and live music, The Phoenix Variety Revue is topped off with the zany antics of Zora as host. Incidentally, in March 2010 the show was visited by the local news, and a teaser was televised on KGW Channel 8! At any edition of PVR, patrons can expect to swoon over some markedly fabulous burlesque.
Living up to its mighty claim, SinnSavvy’s The Rosehip Revue is accurately billed as Oregon’s largest ongoing burlesque spectacular. Averaging three digit attendances and filling lineups with the crème de la crème of local burlesque, this show also recently featured performers based in Seattle and California. Rosehip boasts a core cast of top-notch burlesque talent: pop n’ lock pizazz princess Angelique DeVil, neo-burlesque vixen Delilah Sinn of Rose City Sirens, enchanting songstress/stripteuse Cherry Valance, and heart-stopping boylesque duo Burlesquire- all bringing their captivating genius to Rosehip’s stage every month. Beginning in February, local boylesque/swingdance sensation Russell Bruner will grace the monthly bill. Additionally, there is a rotating selection of burlycue extraordinaires and The Emceeiam brings the belly laughs between acts. The show takes place at the Erickson Saloon Building (9 NW 2nd Avenue, Downtown Portland) on the third Friday of every month.
With bountiful revues and countless variety shows containing delightful snippets of burlesque, Portland is beginning to carve out a spot in the global burlesque community. Nationally regarded producers and peelers have begun to take notice of this once tiny corner of the cabaret world. As their returning fan base widens and audiences increase, Portland’s burlesque artisans persist in inflicting fabulousness in all corners of their city.-R. Courtney