Bechdel Test Burlesque.

•10/16/2013 • 2 Comments
Bechdel Test Burlesque: October 18

Bechdel Test Burlesque: October 18

~ Written by Paul O’Connell (POC Photo)

This Friday night Bechdel Test Burlesque arrives for two shows at Re-bar. Hosted by Rebecca M. Davis and produced in association with GeekGirlCon and the “Four Redheads of the Geekpocalypse” (the unofficial name for producers Jo Jo Stiletto, Sailor St. Claire, Scarlett O’Hairdye and Portland’s Sophie Maltease), the show has been a collaborative labor of love. “…It has been a true group effort the whole way! If we’ve had this much fun putting it together, I can barely imagine what’s about to happen on that stage. There must be a word to describe it. Maybe… funrageous.” Jo Jo says.

To understand GeekGirlCon’s perspective, Jo Jo says that she went straight to the source: Jennifer K. Stuller, Director of Programming and Events for the annual conference. “We love strong female characters and we love them even more when they are complex and we believe that performance provides opportunities to tell new, challenging and inspiring stories about our favorite female characters and their allies,” she explained.

Jo Jo Stiletto has already earned some spectacular bona fides as a geeklesque producer (Whedonesque and Burl-X-Files are her biggest successes to date), so I went to her for a little background on the one-off show Bechdel Test Burlesque

POC: Tell me about this show and its relationship with GeekGirlCon.

Jo Jo: Many people have said they had to look up what the phrase ‘Bechdel Test’ means. This is a good thing. But for the GeekGirlCon crowd it’s shorthand to say “this show is for you.”

POC: I am one of those that had to look it up…(

Jo Jo: First, I’ll speak for myself and not necessarily for my co-producers. This show was born out of the idea that geeky burlesque, despite the naysayers, can be more than a gimmick to attract fan boys. Also, in my research this year I heard many things that made me, privately, very angry. In coded language or said outright, I’ve been told that nerdlesque is ruining burlesque. These people have the best intentions. I respect their opinions. Instead of writing about it or discussing at length, I’d rather SHOW people what I believe in.

Bechdel Test Burlesque, to me, feels like taking the gloves off and throwing down. Oh yeah, ruining burlesque? Well, here is Miss Indigo Blue and her legendary Wonder Woman act. I wanted to show that nerd-focused burlesque can be actually really very good, in fact, some of the best. Let’s not forget fun, sexy, and emotional! Also, just because there are a many misogynistic issues in geek culture, convention culture and cosplay, it doesn’t mean that nerdlesque is also inherently problematic. Al Lykya’s “Duke Nukem “ act takes that head on. We aren’t dancing around it: this is show for geeky feminist women by geeky feminist women who aren’t afraid to show it, all of it.

Miss Indigo Blue (Photo by John Cornicello)

Miss Indigo Blue (Photo by John Cornicello)

POC: How did you decide what acts to choose for this show?

Jo Jo: For curation, we brainstormed around the simple idea of what are the best acts that speak to the GeekGirlCon crowd. Which acts speak to us personally? For me, including performers like Flirty Sanchez was important. She once said she wasn’t nerdy enough for all these themed shows in Seattle. Yet her work, in general, speaks to me so personally as the once awkward, bookish teenager. Scarlett was inspired to create a new act when she met the actress who portrayed one of her favorite sci-fi characters. The actress told her that being reasonable was overrated. So, maybe, that’s a bit of our motto for this show. Being reasonable is overrated. The cast of this show is unreasonably good! It might be criminal to put Miss Indigo Blue, Lola LeSoleil (just recently crowned “Queen of the Alabama Burlesque Festival”), the Shanghai Pearl and Iva Handfull on the same stage. But we didn’t stop there. Check out our lineup. BOOM!

Bolt Action
Flirty Sanchez
Maxie Milieu (formerly known as Lady Laycock)
Sara Dipity
Sailor St. Claire
Scarlett O’Hairdye
Sophie Maltease
Trojan Original
Al Lykya

Lola LeSoleil (Burlesque Atlanta)

Lola LeSoleil (Burlesque Atlanta)

POC: Some of you fabulous ladies aren’t just producing and performing in phenomenal geeklesque shows, but will be participating in many of the events at GeekGirlCon this weekend, correct?

Jo Jo: Scarlett, Sailor, Rebecca and myself are teaching a class called Show Me How To Nerdlesque at the conference. Sailor is sharing her expertise on the Geeks with Disabilities panel plus the More Than Skin Deep: Geeky Tattoos panel. Scarlett helped create an amazing book on steampunk fashion, thus she is participating in a Dignified Reading from The Ladies of Mischief and Steampunk Knitted Fashions with the Ladies of Mischief. I just heard word that the Shanghai Pearl will be joining a discussion about race and cosplay with Chaka Cumberbatch.

Shanghai Pearl (Photo by Jules Doyle)

Shanghai Pearl (Photo by Jules Doyle)

Host Rebecca M. Davis (Photo by Jules Doyle)

Host Rebecca M. Davis (Photo by Jules Doyle)

This is HUGE! I have a feeling this will be the kind of extremely valuable discussion about appropriation and race that I wish could happen at BurlyCon. Oh, and I’m speaking on three panels, Fat Girl, Fan Girl, Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Fan Phenomenon, and Changing Culture in Mainstream and Alternative Spaces. Whew!

As Jo Jo says: “No one can accuse us of being fake geek girls.” And that’s absolutely true. Tickets are going fast . Get yours HERE.

For you.

•10/04/2013 • Leave a Comment

We here at Burlesque Seattle Press are taking a week or two off to work on some glamorous freelancing…but don’t you fret. You know we always leave a little something special for you to feast your eyes on. See you soon, pretty things.

Carole Lombard and a friend, 1930s

Carole Lombard and a friend, 1930s

Seattle Burlesque Games return for another round.

•10/01/2013 • Leave a Comment

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~ Written by Paul O’Connell (POC Photo)

Get ready for some campy displays of athleticism and cheeky competition at Re-Bar this Friday night as the Seattle Burlesque Games return for a second year. The show is produced by Miss Kitty Baby – an active supporter of the Burlesque Hall of Fame, which this show benefits. Miss Kitty Baby is also a huge champion of recognizing and honoring our burlesque Legends and of the importance of the Burlesque Hall of Fame, the world’s only museum dedicated to preserving their history.

“There are always things like rent, archiving supplies, and preservation of our memorabilia that can benefit from our donation,” Miss Kitty Baby explained last year on the relevance of fundraising for the museum. “Burlesque has a unique grasp on our history in a way not many art forms or subcultures do. It was also a special request from the stage of the Hall of Fame Reunion [in 2012] that we in the burlesque communities act as ambassadors for spreading the word for the need to support the Burlesque Hall of Fame.”

Recently I asked Miss Kitty Baby some questions about this year’s sexiest benefit (full disclosure-I am also involved with this show, performing as competitor Man Johnson):

POC: What was your experience with last year’s Seattle Burlesque Games?

KITTY BABY: We came up with last year’s idea on a whim and it turned out to be an incredibly fun community builder and the audience went wild. I was just so impressed with how well everyone came together to make it run smoothly. It was a big pile of fun for myself, the performers and the audience. As it should be.

POC: Is there anything different about this production than last year’s show?

KITTY BABY: This year we are adding the After Party. We have the Re-Bar for the whole night so we aren’t as restricted with time. This will allow us to splash around in the Games a bit more. With the added excitement and interest after last year’s show, I think the performers will take it up a notch. The after party will be live jazz by Pervana (the Tuesday Tease band) and a cast of kamikaze strip teasers. They won’t know what songs they are dancing to or the show order. It’s not a competition, but it’s definitely challenging and fun. Oh and thanks to Babe of Belltown, this year we have a five and a half foot trophy for the Ultimate Grand Supreme winner.

…It’s really inspiring to see 46 Seattle burlesque performers and musicians come together in the name of community and support for the Burlesque Hall of Fame. It makes my heart happy to see such incredible support from the performers, our audience and our sponsors.


The show is hosted by Elsa Von Schmaltz and the celebrity judges will be Jamie Von Stratton and Tamara The Trapeze Lady,

The 2013 Seattle Burlesque Game Team:

Pixie Parcelle, Lady Drew Blood, Bunny Von Bunsmore, MeMe La Saint, Flirty Sanchez, Sailor St. Claire, Cherry “Killer” Tomatoes, Whisper De Corvo, Miss Violet DeVille, Scarlett O’Hairdye, Stella D’Letto, Kutie La Bootie, Karmen Sutra, Man Johnson, Sabina Soubrette, Solange Corbeau, Holly Bordeaux, Huney Bush, Eddie Van Glam, EmpeROAR Fabulous, Dahlia Ste Cyr, Waxie Moon, Boom Boom L’Roux, Lord Richard Longfellow, The Kentucky Dandy, Candy Apples, Dinah Takitov, Queenie O’Hart, Elsa Von Schmaltz, Palomita Mar, Red Delicious, Tamara Trapeze, Dizzy Von Damn, Olatsa Assasin, Cherry Tart, Persephone Illyri , Dessi Devine, Sara Dipity, Jenny Brown, Morgan Gilkeson,Tyson Lynn and Britton Bangs.

Seattle Burlesque Games 2013
Friday, October 4 Saturday, October 5
@Re-Bar (1114 Howell Street, Seattle)

Click HERE for event details and ticketing info, and click HERE to visit the Burlesque Hall of Fame.

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A Q&A with Lily Verlaine on La Danse! Le Burlesque! L’Edition Francaise!

•09/26/2013 • Leave a Comment

Lily Verlaine and Kitten LaRue (Photo by Christopher Nelson)

One week before opening night, Artistic Director and Choreographer Lily Verlaine chatted with me via email regarding the magnifcent trifecta of dance and burlesque works that is La Danse! Le Burlesque! L’Edition Francaise! I recall several years back when I first saw the show – a hugely entertaining collaborative showcase also featuring Kitten LaRue (Artistic Director and Choreographer of The Atomic Bombshells) and Olivier Wevers (Artistic Director and Choreographer, Whim W’Him) – I was absolutely crushed that at least at the time, the show would be performed for one night only. It seemed tragic for a production so exquisite and so incredibly fun to be seen just once; I was ready to see it again the very next night if only it were possible. Luckily many others, including the show’s producers, felt the same.

What follows are some burning questions I had for Lily this year, as La Danse! Le Burlesque! L’Edition Francaise! prepares to revisit the Triple Door October 3-5:

Jessica Price: Hi Lily! L’Edition Francaise is my absolute favorite of your productions, and I’m so glad you and fellow choreographers Kitten LaRue and Olivier Wevers are remounting it. I’m trying to recall when the show was first performed- didn’t it debut in 2010, as a part of your Nightcap series at the Triple Door? Has it been performed every year since?

Lily Verlaine: Jessica, thank you so much for taking the time to cover this show and it pleases me to no end to hear how much you like it. The debut of L’Edition Francaise was Bastille Day 2010. We did a single night’s performances on that particular occasion and a short run in May 2011. This is the third showing and it includes some fabulous new pairings, namely the unbelievable blonde sexiness of Tory Tiara and Jon Betchtel in Olivier Wevers‘ “Coquette”.

Jessica: I think one of the most exciting characteristics of L’Edition Francaise is that it consists of three equally strong parts in one heady collaborative mix. It’s incredibly balanced: frivolity and tension, boldness and flirtatiousness, sexuality and the ethereal. The three of you have such unique strengths and diverse styles- how did the show come about?

Lily: L’Edition Francaise developed because I have been completely obsessed with Serge Gainsbourg’s Histoire de Melody Nelson ever since the album was introduced to me by my friend Jean-Michael Omnes in 2003. I have listened to that album at least one hundred times and I love it more and more with each listen. The 27-minute concept album was too short to stand alone and I didn’t want to interrupt its greatness by dividing it with banter, so I needed more material to flesh out the evening. Enter two brilliant collaborators and voila! Because the show contained such diverse content, it was first produced under the blanket of Nightcap, my late-night show. After this first run, it was evident that the show had a complete life of its own and thus the title was re-imagined as La Danse! Le Burlesque! L’Edition Francaise! which more clearly states what the show is all about and reflects how exciting and fun it is.

Jessica: How did you first meet Olivier Wevers? (His portion of the show has such a rollicking buildup and lascivious conclusion- and the choreography is amazing, of course. I can certainly see why you became friends…)

Lily: I have been a fan of Olivier ever since I saw him play Romeo in PNB’s production of The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. Later, when he was showing his early choreographic works at On The Boards and Spectrum Dance Theater, I was charmed by the candidness of his choreography and the playfulness he brought out in the dancers. I contacted him through an email address on his website and was very pleased when he responded enthusiastically to my invitation that he contribute a piece for this show. When I met him in person, my fascination with him only grew because of his incredible graciousness. One of the most hilarious moments was when he suggested that I needed to teach him all about burlesque. I went pale and sputtered, “what could I possibly teach you??” I remain baffled and flattered that he would say such a thing.

Jessica: You’ve known Kitten LaRue for many years now- she asked you to join the Atomic Bombshells when you were first beginning to think of burlesque as something you could explore through the lens of your dance training. How do you feel your visions as producers complement each other?

Lily: The way that she came to be involved in this show was simply that we were having coffee one day and I mentioned that I was looking for collaborators in the interest of exploring my fascination with Serge Gainsbourg. It just so happened that she had a wealth of ideas in regard to the ye-ye girls of the same era. The moody lasciviousness of Serge’s personality was perfectly offset by the buoyant naiveté of the girls in Kitten’s technicolor vision.

Jessica: What attracted you to creating a choreographic burlesque production around Serge Gainsbourg’s album Histoire de Melody Nelson?

Lily: The music is absolutely gorgeous. It is all at once rock and roll, poetry, classical string arrangements, virtuosic feats of choral prowess, loss, shock and passion. Essentially, everything that moves me to create. Also, the classical components of the album gave me a feeling of freedom to use my ballet background in a non-ironic capacity.

Jessica: On a side note- the maniacal laughter of Melody on that record is quite unforgettable, don’t you think?

Lily: Oh I certainly do! You know, the legend is that Jane Birkin’s laughter was recorded while her brother tickled her over a hidden recorder underneath her bed (placed there by Serge, of course).

La Danse! Le Burlesque! L’Edition Francaise!
@ The Triple Door, Downtown Seattle
October 3-5
Get tickets HERE.

Burlesque Royale: a positively dreamy photo recap.

•09/23/2013 • Leave a Comment

Ah, Burlesque Royale. Minds were blown; hearts set afire.

A diverse array of fiercely unique women shared their larger-than-life talents at Seattle’s Triple Door on September 14. If you missed it, what follows is a quick photo recap through the eyes of three photographers kind enough to share their images. The show’s producer, Seattle’s beloved Shanghai Pearl, was probably the most blown away- and the most humbled – by her cast culled from across the country. When we spoke via email post-show, Shanghai had a few things to say about Burlesque Royale‘s lasting impression in her mind:

“Unapologetic Womanliness. That, if anything was probably the underlying theme of the show. Women being women, being fierce, sexy, stunning, glamorous, adorable, STRONG, bawdy, cute, brilliant, challenging, sweet, women being all these things, standing on stage in all their radical womanliness, taking up space with zero apology.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. And we absolutely cannot wait to see what the Shanghai Pearl dreams up next when she sets her mind to producing. BRING. IT.

Vancouver BC's Burgundy Brixx (Photo by POC)

Vancouver BC’s Burgundy Brixx (Photo by POC)

Burgundy Brixx (Photo by Scott Foster)

Burgundy Brixx (Photo by Scott Foster)

Jovie DeVoe's fabulous balloon act (Photo by Scott Foster)

Jovie DeVoe’s fabulous balloon act (Photo by Scott Foster)

Jovie DeVoe's megawatt smile (Photo by Scott Foster)

Jovie DeVoe’s megawatt smile (Photo by Scott Foster)

La Chica Boom in "Black Magic Woman" (Photo by Brian Buck)

La Chica Boom in “Black Magic Woman” (Photo by Brian Buck)

La Chica Boom (Photo by Brian Buck)

La Chica Boom (Photo by Brian Buck)

Dallas' Donna Denise (Photo by POC)

Dallas’ Donna Denise (Photo by POC)

Donna Denise (Photo by Scott Foster)

Donna Denise (Photo by Scott Foster)

Foxy Tann (POC Photo)

Foxy Tann (POC Photo)

Aerialists Martha Enson and Cathy Sutherland (Photo by POC)

Aerialists Martha Enson and Cathy Sutherland (Photo by POC)

The magnificent smile (and headpiece!) of Ivy Tam (Photo by POC)

The magnificent smile (and headpiece!) of Ivy Tam (Photo by POC)

Ivy Tam (Photo by POC)

Ivy Tam (Photo by POC)

Burlesque Royale's Producer, The Shanghai Pearl, in her Cherry Blossom act (POC Photo)

Burlesque Royale’s Producer, The Shanghai Pearl, in her Cherry Blossom act (POC Photo)

Seattle's very own Sydni Deveraux (Photo by POC)

Seattle’s very own Sydni Deveraux (Photo by POC)

Sydni Deveraux (POC Photo)

Sydni Deveraux (POC Photo)

La Chica Boom "Virgin de Guadalupe" (Photo by Brian Buck)

La Chica Boom “Virgin de Guadalupe” (Photo by Brian Buck)

The ladies of Grant Avenue Follies (Photo by POC)

The ladies of Grant Avenue Follies (Photo by POC)

The cast of Burlesque Royale (Photo by Scott Foster)

The cast of Burlesque Royale (Photo by Scott Foster)

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