Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Burlesque In A Red State

Boobs. Boobs in every shape, size, and color you can imagine. There were feathered boobs, boobs in beekeepers outfits, there were even boobs in flames.  I was at the Alabama Burlesque Festival.  I had gone with friends to see a burlesque show. I had seen burlesque acts before but never one with so many acts. 

There were the acts you'd expect; the slow strip tease a man's suit outfit down to just pasties and a g-string.  There was the the woman with huge feather fans who danced behind them slowly teasing your as the feather waved in the air.  There was, I think it's required to be in a burlesque show, the man-dressed-as-a-woman-but-you-don't-know-until-the-last-minute-it's-a man act. (Hint: always look for the Adam's Apple.)  But then there were acts you didn't expect; The clever girl who stripped to the sound of a typewriter. (She scooted back across the stage at the ding of the carriage return.) The girl who walked out in a beekeepers outfit and was chased by a cut-out bee on a stick. (A bee gets under her outfit. You take it from there.) Then there was the girl swallowed fire. Oh, and then she BURNED HER OUTFIT OFF! (Except for the required covering of pasties and a thong. They must have been made from asbestos.) There was the very athletic young woman who stripped while hanging upside down from the ceiling.  One of my favorites was the former MTV VJ who stripped out of a wedding dress after she'd been left on her wedding day. 

Now, this show went on for over two hours.  Not all the acts were great.  Most were quite clever.  The host, a large-busted and large-afro'ed very brash former burlesque dancer from Minneapolis, Minnesota who liked to swear introduced all the acts like they were family. She was like the naughty aunt a family might not ever acknowledge but was loved by anyone who ever met her.  The night went on and the acts went on. And on. And on. By the end of the show I think I had seen 43…no, 44 boobs.  They were all blurring together. 

The last act, an older woman wrapped in bullets and holding fake guns dancing to Pat Benatar's 'Love is a Battlefield', brought in the senior element to the show.  While I appreciate the fact that you shouldn't discriminate based on age,  burlesque may be an exception to that rule.  She was gasping for breath while walking back and forth on the stage and I was worried she might need oxygen before the end of the act. I think the guns and ammo were a little heavy for her. That part of the show might go over well in the retirement home right after the early-bird dinner in the activity room, but at Lowe Mill?  I was looking around the room for the portable defibrillator, just in case she didn't make it through the show.

But, back to the boobs. By the end of the show you've seen a lot of them. The women are every shape and size and so are the boobs. It's what is the hook that draws men (and women) to the show.  But the acts are what keeps you interested.  Burlesque is a unique kind of live performance that is just fun to watch.  It's racy, yes.  Is it dirty? No. Is it pornography? No. Is it erotic? Sometimes.  It's an act you might see in New Orleans, or Paris.  A little 'willing suspension of disbelief' and you won't even think you are in a Red State.

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