With Phoenix growing rapidly, it’s no surprise that the art of burlesque is also experiencing growth. There are several troupes in Phoenix who host their own shows, including Scandalesque, Romantasy Cabaret, Spellbound Productions, Fourth Realm Burlesque, and BurlEscapades, who we had the pleasure of speaking with about this topic.
I asked Mia PiaCherrie, of BurlEscapades, (photographed above) what newbies to burlesque shows can expect. This is what she had to say:
It will vary depending on which production you decide to try out, but first and foremost you will see scantily clad women and men dancing suggestively. You will also see women and men of all shapes and sizes, as burlesque is all inclusive, and hear some vaudevillian style comedy. There are a variety of dances, such as strip tease, belly dance, tap dance, and swing dance. There may also be circus-style side show acts, as well as aerial, trapeze, and pole dancing.
Some productions focus on the classic style of burlesque, which, in my opinion, is best defined as a slow sensual strip tease with elaborate vintage costumes, typically performed to music of times past and played from both recordings and live bands. Other productions focus on neo-burlesque, which is modern themes such as movies, TV shows, comics, and fetishes set to modern music.
Some types of burlesque center on vaudeville comedy and circus themes, which can be set to both classic and modern music. These shows are typically heavy with comedy, magic, variety skits, and dance, as well as sideshow acts and aerial/ trapeze acts.
As an audience member, you should first understand that every show is different. Seeing one show put on by one company/troupe/producer will not be what you see during another. My suggestion is to try to go to several shows put on by different producers before you decide if you enjoy watching burlesque shows.
Members of the audience should know a few things before going to their first show:
First: Go in with an open mind. There is a chance that a performer or several may offend your sensibilities. The reason for this is burlesque at its heart is an absurd or comically exaggerated imitation or parody of literary, political, or dramatic works and, as an art form, interpreted differently by everyone.
Second: There is etiquette involved with being an audience member. It is ok and encouraged to cat call, hoot and holler, whistle, laugh, and even tip or throw dollars at your favorite performer(s). It is not ok to boo, throw coins at, or touch a performer. The point here is to have fun, have a drink, and enjoy the show. Please don’t get drunk and unruly. Also, pay attention to the rules of the show. Typically, it is not allowed to film, video or photograph the show. These women and men performing for your pleasure (and theirs) do have day jobs, but feel free to ask to have your picture taken with your favorite performer(s). This is highly encouraged and most performers love to do it, as it makes them feel like celebrities.
Third: Don’t forget to bring cash. Tip your favorite performer(s), as well as your bartenders.
Last but not least: Have fun! We love when new audience members join our shows. We appreciate your patronage and want nothing more then for everyone to have a good night.
With that in mind, don’t forget to check out the new monthly neo-burlesque show by BurlEscapades, called Geeklesque, every second Sunday at Endgame bar in Tempe!