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xmag.com : November 2003: Burlesque is Boring!

Burlesque is, according to Tease-O-Rama's dictionary, " a witty and mocking send-up of vaudeville entertainment." Pretty goddamn postmodern, since vaudeville was generally witty and mocking in the first place. I'd say, after attending the third annual three-day burlesque convention TEASE-O-RAMA, that burlesque is "fat unpretty tattooed girls awkwardly aping opera histrionics."

Whoa! That's harsh! I can't believe that just came out of my pen! Naughty, humorless pen.... Those Tease-O-Rama folks gave Exotic two free V.I.P. passes--a $200 value--and I can't say anything nice?!

That's not true. I have plenty nice to say (see sidebars). But the general tenor of this fat fest was so catty, so anti-stripper and devoid of any kind of sexy that I took to committing petty misdemeanors to entertain myself. I guess ya can't help but get catty at a festival full of broads.

My photographer, Lucy Fur (a fabulously burlesquey STRIPPER), and I arrived in Los Angeles just in time for the press junket, where we pressed the flesh with burlesque luminaries and overheard the New York bitches bitch about their L.A. litter mates and vice versa. Very silly. Some great outfits came, no sex was had and the Bigfoot Lodge (hipster dive) stole the show.

The next evening, after a feverish day spent shopping for shoes, corsets, panties, fringe and rhinestones, Lucy and I settled into great seats at the supercool Henry Fonda Music Box Theater on Hollywood Boulevard. I was braced for maybe two hours of tassels, but NO! It was a SIX HOUR flesh parade, and one hour into it I had already had my limit of shoulder-length gloves unceremoniously ripped off and tossed to the floor and was yearning to see a live pee show. I had had all the fringed flab I could stomach, and even the site of one chick's MISFITS tattoo oozing out of her overly-tight pink corset failed to amuse me.

I hightailed it to the V.I.P. rooftop lounge, lit up a Lucky and downed two tequilas under the stars and the smog. There I witnessed the best show of the weekend--two old punk rockers gussied up in suits doing a swell Sinatra bass and vox schtick while falling into folding chairs. Reinvigorated, I went down to the mezzanine where I defaced over one hundred Spin magazines, writing "I SUCK" on coverboy Dave Matthews' t-shirt. I didn't know how I was going to endure three more hours before headliner Dita von Teese took the stage.

Dita is evidently HOT SHIT. I don't know because I don't care. Burlesque has always seemed phony to me--a cheap parody of Sexy, absent of any and all sincerity. But enough about me. DITA is Marilyn Manson's chick. Her claim to fame is rhinestones, rhinestones, rhinestones: rhinestoned gloves, fans, shoes, chairs, tampons, etc. She was a Playboy covergirl, which in the hypocrisy of the new burlesque is very fucking cool and lends legitimacy to the entire movement . Mostly Dita does a soulless rip-off of the inimitable Betty Page.

Dita was lovely. Moved like an actual dancer, like, say, a STRIPPER who dances eight-hour shifts five nights nights a week. She was professional and not fat. Or tattooed. Really she had nothing over Portland's fabulous gals other than rhinestones (silly) and Marilyn Manson (alright I'd fuck him).

Speaking of Pornland.... Portland was completely unrepresented at Tease-O-Rama. Sure, the Suicide Girls Inc. signed on late in the game and sponsored the show, but none of the acts were from the Beaver State. Maybe because we host a more fabulous, sexy, witty, intelligent skinfest every night of the year! But we are strippers, and as such somewhat unwelcome in the burlesque scene. We dance for a living, not to make a statement. We are willing to give lap- and table-dances. We are unopposed to getting fake tits. We are not fucking around. We are the REAL DEAL. Sexy. Witty. Charismatic. Tough.

Part of Tease-O-Rama's mission was to educate with a "bawdy history lesson," and to that effect they had seminars on tassel-twirling, teasing, the history of burlesque, writing about burlesque, and other unsexy stuff. But I gotta say that I did learn something at Tease-O-Rama. I learned that there is an "IT." There are "it" girls and there are girls who are not "it." If you're not "it," get off the stage! If you are, smile, cuz God loves you. And nothing in the history of the universe is sexier than an "it" girl, smiling, giggling, and doing whatever the fuck she wants in the face of certain doom.

Bonnie Dunn brings new meaning to the phrase "making the audience squirm." Her amateurish vocal stylings and absolutely wrong theatrics culminated in what was far and away Tease-O-Rama's worst moment. Singing off key "I Could Have Daaahhnced All Night," she patted her "pregnant" stomach. Suddenly she pulled a large plastic bowl out of her dress, delivering her "baby," and squealed, "Where's the placenta?!" Then she fell on the floor, kicked her feet in the air and finished her song. Bonnie probably hasn't been fucked in ages.


One highlight of the festival was the premiere of Broad Daylight, a wonderful full-color homage to the classic stag loops of the fifties and sixties, starring the better burlesquers (including our own Lucy Fur!) and set to a totally rad punk rock soundtrack. Tease-r Candy Whiplash directed the gals and shot them on Super 8 with the help of Memphisean John Michael McCarthy. The DVD, CD and LP will be available in December at www.guerrillamonster.com.


Kitten Deville is the best! Miss Exotic World 2002 and a member of L.A.'s burlesque troupe the Velvet Hammer, this chick has got "it" in spades! Clad in a padded bra, fringed g-string, blonde ringlets and an enormous smile, she takes the stage and shakes it. And that's it! Shake, shake, shake. Air-kiss. Exit stage right. Ya gotta see it to believe it.








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