Burlesque: "Booty is in the Eye" of the Audience

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On November 22-24 the SMCM Burlesque Club held their bi-annual burlesque show “Booty is in the Eye of the Beholder”. This show took place in Bruce Davis Theater with a very supportive audience to cheer on the performers. All performers used stage names instead of real names in order to make the show more about the acts than the personalities involved. Some audience members knew the names of their friends who performed and would wait anxiously to watch their friend perform.

Burlesque is a type of theatrical performance where female or male performers act out a short story while simultaneously stripping themselves of clothing. The stories performed had a mix of themes from defying racial and gender stereotypes to animals fighting over a watering hole. While the themes are not necessarily sexual in nature, the point of the show is to become comfortable in one’s own body and convey a story. Burlesque also differs from traditional theatrical shows in that there are stage kittens instead of stage hands who would set up the performance or clean up after one. This would include setting up a fog machine to cleaning up the multitude of clothing that covers the floor after many performances. Many of the stage kittens were also dressed in provocative clothing such as corsets and fishnet stockings to match the clothing worn by the performers.

The show opened with two MCs, Gawyn Commando and Juciy J. Cart, who would introduce the performers and create witty banter between the acts to tie together the show. The hosts competed against each other in challenges to see who would be the best host of the night. These competitions included challenges such as who could pull off their own sock in the smoothest motion. Gawyn Commando even performed a recitation of “Jabberywocky” to try and prove that he was the best host. This competition livened the time between the acts and gave the audience a way to interact with the performance in a way more substantial than cat calling and cheering.

The acts within the show varied greatly to cover a vast range of themes. The performance by Miss Miri Minx and Wanton Willow told the story of death coming to visit her victim to the performance. Another performace, by Bella Pepper, told the story of breaking out of traditional gender roles for women to become more independent. The acts were either performed solo, had two to three performers, or had help from the stage kittens during the performance. All of the performances were accompanied by music and some of the performances were choreographed to the beat of the song. The music ranged from “Time of the Season” by the Zombies to “Confessions” by Tim Minchin. Sadly there were no male performances, although there was a male stage kitten this year but many are hoping for more male roles in the spring semester performance.

Most of the acts had various and unique ways to draw attention and differentiate themselves from the other acts. The act by Baron Samedi, Sinister Spider, and Tigress featured a pole in which the performers would contort their bodies on the pole and dance around it. Sinister Spider also began the performance on the pole, only holding on to the pole with either an arm or a leg. The performance by Miss Miri Minx and Wanton Willow incorporated the use of a fog machine to set the mood of the act. Along with props to make the performances unique, the themes of many acts performed were unique. La Dame d’Artois performed as a mime stuck in a box and mimed the removal of each article of clothing before actually doing so.

The burlesque show “Booty is in the Eye of the Beholder” was an entertaining event that combined dancing, storytelling, and stripping. The next burlesque performance will occur in the Spring 2014 semester and is expected continue the tradition of quality entertainment.

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