January 26, 2011

Show me how you burlesque

I've always loved lingerie & pretty vintage boudoir items. There's just something about a frilly lace bra or silky undergarments that can make you feel automatically confident & sexy, even in the dingiest of garb like that favorite worn t-shirt everyone owns at least one of & wears around the house with a pair of sweatpants. Via my internet travels, I came across FairyGothMother, a UK-based shop that sells corsets, lingerie and bridal items - all with a unique flair & a definite elegance. The burlesque section of the site had me instantly doing about 100 google searches for "burlesque" which led me to a lot of interesting sites and information. Prior to reading up on burlesque, I had limited knowledge of what it was other than my basic idea that it was essentially the art of striptease. I knew that Dita Von Teese is practically the poster pinup for it, but beyond that - what was it really?

American burlesque originated from early 19th century vaudeville, musical & theatrical parody that blended adult entertainment, satire and various performance art. Early acts were more than just striptease - acts could include firebreathers, contortionists, skits and music, all wrapped up in a colorful package. Burlesque is very much about costumes and flash. Rhinestones, crystals, glitter, feathers, color! The more elaborate the costume, the better. Burlesque isn't just glorified stripping - it's racy perfomance art. Early performers included women like Evangeline Sylvas (famous for dancing in an oyster shell and dying her hair mermaid-green), Lily St. Cyr & Gypsy Rose Lee.

Right, top: Burlesque performer Divena doing an underwater act / Right, below: Evangeline Sylvas smashing her tank in an unplanned act of rage.
While I've never seen a burlesque show first-hand, I would love to! From what I've seen online and in movies, the shows seem like an explosive act of glamor: elaborate sets, elegant & flashy costumes (who doesn't love pink rhinestone corsets!?) and beautiful women singing and dancing. While it has obvious overtones of sex - after all, these women are technically stripping - I find the whole scene alluring, which is part of the original intention. The mystery, the mystique, the tease. As Cher's character Tess from Burlesque would sing, "Show a little more, show a little less." I'm a lover of fashion.
I would go for the costumes alone!

Which brings me to my next point...Burlesque, the movie! had to see. The soundtracks is wonderful, but really - who can go wrong with the intense vocals of Christina Aguilera & the epicness that is Cher? Speaking of Cher & Burlesque, I went to a drag show over the weekend and witnessed an amazing performance of "Welcome to Burlesque" by a rather well endowed drag queen dressed head to toe in rhinestones. I would be lying if I didn't say that drag act slightly inspired me to blog about burlesque. But back to the movie... while the storyline may be nothing new (small town girl escapes to the city to make it big, blah blah, hot man friend turned lover turned boyfriend blah blah happy ending), the musical numbers and costumes are touted as the biggest draw for audiences. "But I am a Good Girl" was one of my personal favorites. The movie as a whole just made me want to go home, put on a pair of stockings, outrageous heels and start learning all the moves from the movie. If someone were to create a burlesque workout-slash-dance class here where I live, I would probably be the first to sign up. Does that even exist? I know there are stripper work out classes, but there's something about learning the art of striptease, complete with outlandish costumes, that just seems like the ideal workout. I mean really, who would pick a treadmill and weight lifting over donning a feather boa, corset and heels and training to be the next Dita Von Teese? I would be a lot more motivated to put down the fries and get my ass to "gym class!" And those costumes! I want to own every piece of lingerie from that movie. And we've come full circle, back to lingerie. Instant love! I knew from the moment I saw the previews that it was a movie I

I wish I could get a print of one of these vintage burlesque posters. Not only is burlesque fashionable, it can apply to interior design too! I think something like the above would look cute in my living room. I have a lot of vintage posters of Moet & Chandon and Martini & Rossi. I love that style. And to close out this post, I leave you with drool worthy lingerie & a video of the 2008 New York Burlesque Festival.

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