Picks of the glitter February 26, 2013.
~ Interview by Paul O’Connell (POC Photo), with additional text by Jessica Price
What’s a little ambiguity in the XX/XY sex chromosome department between friends? 2013 is shaping up to be the year of the MAN. Truthfully, the momentum for male burlesque has been building for years and years (just ask Scott Ewalt the next time he lectures at BurlyCon) but with the rise in popularity of showcases like the New York Boylesque Festival, now in its second year, male performers reinventing burlesque in daring and innovative ways seems more possible- and visible- than ever before.
This week’s picks of the glitter are just a few ways to celebrate the beautiful and bawdy boys of burlesque/boylesque:
Thursday night (February 28) at Central Cinema, Wes Hurley’s latest film Waxie Moon in Fallen Jewel kicks off a monthly screening series hosted by none other than RuPaul’s Drag Race-r Jinkx Monsoon and Waxie Moon in the flesh. Get tickets HERE, and if you miss it, BenDeLaCreme hosts the next screening on March 28.
For your “early warning” file, next month (March 27 to be exact), KINGS: A Boylesque Extravaganza takes place at the Triple Door. This show is incredibly exciting for obvious reasons (um…Evil Hate Monkey, Russell Bruner, Waxie Moon, Stage Door Johnnies, and Mat Fraser all on one stage???), but the show will also be filmed for a new movie produced by Seattle filmmaker Deirdre Allen Timmons- yes, Deirdre of the now-famous burlesque documentary, A Wink and a Smile. Get tickets HERE.
But lest we get too carried away with the future, let’s talk about the present. Our top pick for this week is Boys! Bois! Boyz! Starring Jett Adore at West Hall on Friday, March 1. For those that haven’t yet seen Jett perform, many burlesque aficionados are already familiar with his oh-so-dreamy name: Jett has been honored with multiple Burlesque Hall of Fame wins including 2010’s “Most Innovative” and “World’s Best Burlesque Group” (with Stage Door Johnnies), and is current titleholder of “Best Duo” with Frenchie Kiss. Many other talented specimens of masculine perfection appear in this week’s show- Trojan Original, Daddy Z Deviant, Waxie Moon, and Paris Original, just to name a few. The show will be hosted by Ernie Von Schmaltz for two shows at 7:30 and 10pm. Check out the whole package (yeah, that’s what we said) and book tickets HERE.
We talked to one of the show’s producers and performers, Fosse Jack, about putting together this boylesque showcase:
BSP: Can you tell us a little about how the Boys! Bois! Boyz! series was developed?
Fosse Jack: Actually the idea was suggested by Miss Indigo Blue! She wanted to do a boylesque show starring Jett Adore, and invited Sir Eddie Van Glam, myself and EmpeROAR Fabulous to produce it in tandem with the Academy of Burlesque. With both Eddie and I on board, she suggested we build off the previous Boys! Bois! Boyz! shows and build something awesome. Working with Miss Indigo Blue and EmpeROAR on a producer level has been an amazing experience.
The concept for Boys! Bois! Boyz! was born during a Burlesque 202 class in which Sir Eddie, myself, Man Johnson, Piston Chambers, Rip Curl and Summer Lovin worked together under the tutelage of Waxie Moon. Piston had been the driving force behind getting us all together, with the idea of having a “boylesque takeover” of the class. During the show Sir Eddie expressed interest in doing a boylesque show, and asked me if I was interested in producing. I came up with the name, inspired by Lady Gaga’s song “Boys, Boys, Boys”, and by the varied aspects and representations of masculinity in burlesque (hence the three different spellings).
We produced the first just over a year ago, as a Double Feature Burlesque Show with the Pin-Up Angels, and then again in May as an opportunity to perform the Waxie Moon & Ensemble “Cum Together” act. Our first show, hosted by Daddy Z Deviant, was built around a ‘celebration of boydom’ and featured various types of boylesque, including drag king performance and clowning. Our second show, hosted by Flirty Sanchez was a more story-driven idea and had a boy band theme. Boys! Bois! Boyz! Starring Jett Adore goes back to the ‘celebration of boydom’ and will feature a wide variety of boylesque talent.
BSP: What are some of your goals in producing shows like these?
Fosse Jack: For me, I want boylesque in Seattle to get a little more publicity. We have a LOT of amazing talent and very few shows or groups dedicated to it. Throughout the past few years I’ve seen boylesque troupes try to form but the appeal of each was limited to a particular demographic. Only Mod Carousel has been able to maintain its shape and force.
That being said, I believe that there is a need to introduce more people to boylesque, and vice versa, Seattle’s boylesque performers to a wider portion of the burlesque audience. Much of the desire for this type of show has been expressed by fellow burlesque performers; but if marketed correctly, and in providing a wide variety of boylesquers, we can make ourselves noticed and hopefully build steam for a wider and more enthusiastic boylesque audience in the Emerald City and surrounding area. Ultimately I would like to see Boys! Bois! Boyz! lead to Seattle’s own mini-boylesque festival. New York has the market on that right now, but to my knowledge the West Coast is behind. Whether this could come to fruition or not is hard to say, but a boy can dream.
BSP: Can you explain a little about your introduction to burlesque?
Fosse Jack: I was introduced to burlesque by Polly Wood. Polly and I went to college together and toured in the same dramatic troupe. We were close and stayed in touch after college. I knew she was getting into burlesque and talked a couple of friends of mine into going to a show with me. I had no idea what to expect, let alone have any clue that the art form would call to me as it did. Anyway, it was a Columbia City Cabaret hosted and produced by Tamara the Trapeze Lady that gave me my first introduction to burlesque. My friends (both young women) talked about how fun it would be to perform an act, largely joking, but the same thoughts played in my head in a more serious fashion.
I came up with my name – Fosse Jack, combining the last name of my favorite choreographer (Bob Fosse) and an uncommon pet form of James (my birth name). I also liked the inadvertent double entendre: Fosse is derived from the Latin for ‘bone’ and well, Jack should be self-explanatory. About the same time Polly changed her [stage] name and without thinking we had created duo Jack & Wood, a name that still makes me giggle like a ten year old boy.
Waxie Moon was the first boylesque performance I ever experienced, and I remember being both a little shocked and more than a little intrigued the first time I saw him as The Rat King in Land of the Sweets. Polly had introduced me to Waxie and mentioned that I had an interest into getting into burlesque. Waxie told me about the first Boylesque 101, at the time an informal event. I was not able to join that class but the thought remained in my mind. A few months later I saw Through The Looking Glass where I was reintroduced not only to Waxie but also to EmpeROAR Fabulous. It was EmpeROAR Fabulous who gave me my debut performance at his Fresh Air show, which raised money for a charity in his mother’s name… About a month after that Polly Wood and I launched our very first Jack & Wood Show, and produced it on a monthly basis for about a year until other projects took over. We are just now returning to this project and have re-launched Jack & Wood at The Can Can.
I’ve been performing on and off for the past several years, working for smaller shows at The Jewelbox, Can Can, and Re-Bar and performing more recently in large productions at Theatre Off Jackson and The Triple Door. I have also been (though inconsistently) reviewing burlesque shows, largely as an exercise in objectivity and self-education but also in an attempt to bring a self-awareness to the Seattle burlesque community in relation to other ‘mainstream’ art forms. As burlesque becomes more and more in the public eye the demand for consistency and high standards increases and we should all be aware of this.
BSP: Any other parting thoughts on burlesque/boylesque in general…?
Fosse Jack: I have not always liked the term ‘boylesque’, in fact I refer to myself as a ‘burlesque’ performer in most cases. I don’t believe there is a great deal of difference between these two facets of the art form, with one exception. It’s hard for boys (whether male by birth, identity or persona) to perform ‘classic burlesque’ as the rules of the classic are not easily applied to non-breasted glamourites, or to the place ‘men’ hold in the social psyche that convention enforces on our community as a whole. Even Waxie Moon and other gender-blenders who perform, at times, in a classic style (and do so beautifully) are not received the same way as a female artist would be. It’s just a fact of the social eye.
But as Boy/i-Burlesquers are becoming more numerous, and are integrating themselves, their styles and their talents with the greater burlesque community, I think they will in time gain more of the spotlight. This has been done in Chicago with Jett Adore and the Stage Door Johnnies, in New York with their no-holds-barred performers like Tigger!, and to some extent with acts like Chippendales, and can be done with the amazing variety of local talent.
Our part in the art of the tease is still being formed, our contributions only just being recognized. There is steam building here, and I want to help that steam get things moving. In another couple of years, I would like to see the ‘boylesque’ aspect of BHOF be on equal or near-equal footing with the classic aspect, and the title of Reigning King of Burlesque or (as I prefer) ‘Prince of Tease’ to be something solid to work toward, not just a glorified honorary mention.
In the meantime it is important for us to continue to read the audiences, push boundaries in such a way that we awaken an appreciation for what we do. Shock value can be effective but not in the long term. The waters are warming up, slowly, we just need to apply a little extra heat now and then.
Visit Fosse Jack at www.fossejack.blogspot.com.