Portland’s Rose City School of Burlesque
-By Rayleen Courtney, Contributing Writer (Portland)
Many burlesque-loving cities have a school or an ongoing roster of workshops wherein aspiring stripteuses can obtain an education in the ways of the bump n’ grind. Facets of the business such as professional networking, ethics, and production protocol are taught alongside classes on everything from character development to costume creation and from tassel twirling to perfecting a shimmy. Rather extraordinary is the willingness of modern burlesque luminaries to pass along the tips, tricks, and insights they have obtained through hard work- and many times, their own early trial and error. In 2009, Portland found itself on the list of cities boasting an academy of these erotic arts by way of the Rose City School of Burlesque.
Founded by Holly Dai, the school just turned out its fourth graduating class- its largest thus far, with eleven graduates completing the term. With an instructional team led by Miss Dai and touting the expertise of Meghan Mayhem, Tana The Tattooed Lady, and Zora Phoenix, attendees of the RCSoB have the opportunity to soak up knowledge from industry veterans and utilize it in realizing their individual performance aspirations. “People tell me that I’m responsible for all of these women doing burlesque,” says Holly. “But I’m not responsible. I just facilitate something that is already within them.” This facilitation has certainly become key in the continued growth of Portland’s burlesque scene, as the School’s most recent graduate recital helps to indicate.
The recital (on March 22 at the Bossanova Ballroom) left its sizable audience joyfully discomposed and begging for more. As the instructors filled the roles of Emcee (Zora) and Stage Kittens (Meghan and Tana), a well-deserved pride in their graduates was apparent on each of their faces throughout the performances. A few acts were particularly notable: a devilishly delightful transformation piece by Merry Poser, a dose of flirtatious ultra-sass from Babs Jamboree, hilariously innovative glove removal by Dee Dee Pepper, and a fantastic introduction to Vienna Savage, whose Statue Of Liberty act literally caused an entranced audience member to yell out “God bless America!” Without knowing that these ladies were making their stage debuts, one could easily have believed that they had been at it for months. Remarks Holly: “I’m always impressed with how quickly people that think they can’t do it pull it out and rock the entire house.” And rock the house, they did.
The Rose City School of Burlesque begins its next term on Tuesday, April 12 with a workshop from Dangerous Curves Ahead. Potential students are encouraged to sign up post haste, as spots are filling fast. More information can be found at www.rosecityschoolofburlesque.com , including information on the next recital as details are finalized.