Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Is anything off-limits in burlesque?

Do you feel as an individual that there any subject matters that due to their nature/timing/etc. are beyond the limits of good taste and reason for burlesque to lampoon? Or is burlesque, by its very definition, free from restrictions even if the audience watching it might take offense at what they are presented with?


Jack Midnight said...

We've got a "no bush" rule for both women and men in our show. That came from personal experience with a performer who went completely nude and showed us an old-school 70's bush. Yikes! We all need to remember to tend the garden every now and then.

Zeugma said...


Not... pubic hair? On an adult human being? The horror! ;)

So, out of curiousity, does the 'no bush' rule mean that performers can only go full nude if their foliage is clipped, or that NO one can go full nude?

Paris Green said...

To clarify, we strongly prefer that performers on our stage wear g-strings (and pasties) rather than end up au natural. It's a matter of keeping things consistent with the style and tone of our overall show.

But to bring things back to the actual question that was asked...

I think, however, the question at hand is whether or not there are topics/subjects that are or should be off limit. Having done some comedy in my day, I think you have to know the room you're playing and if you're going to touch a subject that's horrifying, you have to be willing to take it to the absolute extreme. The bigger the lampoon, the more ridiculous that ugliness becomes.

I don't think there will ever be something that is completely forbidden - because I'll bet that somebody will find a way to make it work brilliantly - but you can't force an audience to be entertained by something they're not ready to see or willing to see. So I do think you have to pick and choose carefully. And I do think that you have to be willing, to a certain degree, to fail if you're trying to make some kind of statement. Your audience is your guidepost - they'll let you know if you've overstepped, if something you're trying to say has come out too soon or is too raw.

Anonymous said...

the only thing off limit in burlesque is BAD burlesque and bad presentation of it. for an example, in sydney, you have quality burlesque promoters like sugartime who usually only put on original, unique kind of stuff. then you have a few other promoters trying to grasp at the tails of sugartime who end up just getting the leftovers or stuff you've already seen or wasn't good enough for a sugartime show. i been going to these things for a while now in sydney, and i've learnt you really got to look at WHO is putting the party on, WHO is presenting it, or you've really wasted your money

Anonymous said...

Yes, thin girls are a no-no. We like 'em big and round.

Delirium Tremens said...

Anonymous (comment 5):

Unless you are specifically billing yourselves as a "troup of size" like the glamazons, big bottom burlesque etc, your statement is as offensive as people not wanting to book "fat girls" for shows.

And yes, I find BOTH pretty damn offensive.

One of the beautiful things about neo-burlesque is the inclusion of women (and men) of ALL sizes. Why would you want to ruin that by stigmatizing certain bodies?



Anonymous said...


Burlesque is about big, beautiful women. All the women in burlesque used to be curvy and round. There were no skinny-minnies. Save that for the "tittie bars." And as you mentioned, the glamazons are now on network tv. They are what burlesque is all about now. Look at Dirty Martini, the Von Foxies, and just about ALL of the top name performers.

Delirium Tremens said...


There is probably no way to make you see reason, as you clearly want to make your definition of burlesque as narrow as possible but you are blatently incorrect on a few points.

"All the women in burlesque used to be curvy and round. There were no skinny-minnies."

They may not have been skinny, but they sure as hell were not women of size either. Jennie Lee was about as big as they got and she was no Dirty Martini or Glamazon. I'm not saying this is good, but its a fact.

" Save that for the "tittie bars.""

So for you, the only difference between burlesque and strip clubs is the size of the girl?
That's really sad. I don't even know how to start explaining to you the multitude of differences between the two. If you can't get it, I don't think there is any point.

"And as you mentioned, the glamazons are now on network tv. They are what burlesque is all about now. Look at Dirty Martini, the Von Foxies, and just about ALL of the top name performers."

And last year Michelle L'Amour your point is?
Just to mention a few major performers that aren't large women: Julie Atlas Muz, Harvest Moon, Jo Boobs.

And how about Dita Von Teese?
I have no interest in discussing her relative merits as a performer, but you cannot deny that in the world at large she is the face of neo-burlesque.

I'm not saying I think these performers are better than Dirty. My point is that they are all burlesque and you are wrong about the top performers. They are a mix, just like they are at EVERY level in new burlesque

Zeugma said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again:

Any statement that starts with "Burlesque is about" is a sad statement indeed. Being proscriptive about what burlesque SHOULD be is both arrogant and useless. Especially when you're talking about the size of women's asses.

Oh, and I'll also sign my name to this, because I believe in what I write and am ready to answer for it.

It takes five minutes to get a google account. Get one if you wish to be taken seriously in these discussions.

Miss Jezebel Express
(a woman who has been honoured to share the stage with people who weigh both fifty pounds more and fifty pounds less than her, and calls ALL of it burlesque.)

Casandra said...

Anything you might find in Hustler. Burlesque should not be lewd or overt. Think back to the great Gypsy Rose Lee. She was a true tease.

My opinion.