Now crossing the Atlantic from mainland Europe to England, at the exact same time as Henri-Toulouse Lautrec was composing Art Deco posters for sultry revues in the increasingly popular 'Red Light District' through the roaring twenties, Victorians were struggling with ambivalent attitudes to female sexuality. What the Victorians took from Plato's legacy was what has informed the notions that are still residual today. That there is something 'lesser' about earthliness, about the 'feminine' qualities of sentiment and ‘the body’. Yet, the more these qualities are emphasized as something a ‘forward thinking’ society based on logic, rules, reason and (ambivalent) gentlemanly behaviour should try to suppress, the more it 'tit'illates all concerned!
Sailing further across the Atlantic to the ‘New World’ in our brief history of Burlesque to the United States of America, where we find decades that have so shaped the scene of performance art in the contemporary age. We view a spectrum of: the ‘Roaring Twenties’, whose Dionysian hedonism juxtapositions the conservative boni mores of Prohibition in the 1930s, to the Golden Era of the Hollywood Starlet in the 1940s when the Western World was at war for the second time, up and until the late 1950s where images of Betty Page countered those of Betty Crocker! I simply love watching Gypsy Rose Lee displaying a wrist, whist navy men in uniform go wild, clamouring to touch a rag she has thrown from one of many heavy dress layers. She called herself a “Stripper”, and was celebrated far and wide for her wit, glamour and spirit to walk on the wilder side of life. Burlesque will always be niche. That is part of its character. The moment it starts becoming to 'normalized' is the moment it stops having the 'umph' to make social commentary.
But frankly, let's not get tooo academic about it. There is a desire on the part of both men and women alike, to be transported into a world where their inner children can play within the more adult realms. I, personally, live out my fantasies on stage through costume, music, dance choreography and set design whilst posing and peeling, revealing and concealing. Essentially, I sell my audience pure, 'unadulterated', MAGIC! I am privileged to have been exposed (via the internet, books, films, YouTube clips and academic lectures) to the inspiring ladies (and a few gents) who have gone before me. I look forward to engaging with all you femmes fatales and ‘connoisseurs of ambivalent desire’ on a continued basis - thank you all for adding to the creative pool of our beloved art form! May we all continued to be inspired, even when the 'real-world' may be a bit disillusioning. I think I may just grab some sherry now, put on some Ronnie Magri Jazz and bump to the beats. This is just me introducing myself to you, there will be many posts to come!
BURLESQUE IS BOOTY-FULL!