Giant feather fans, vodka pouring liberally from smiling stagehands, stilettos that made you die a little on the inside just looking at them, corsets pulled tight enough to take your breath away, and more glitter than a gay arts and crafts store. No, this wasn’t a drag show—well, not all of it. This was the 8th Annual Burlesque Festival. And it was hosted by a man in six-inch stilettos and a blue bunny suit named Scotty.
“We are Burlesque,” bunny-clad Scotty said. “We are out and proud weirdos!”
It was everything you could have imagined, and much, much more. Contrary to the clichéd notion that burlesque artists are mere strippers in ’40s getups, the Festival aimed to showcase that underground nightlife full of brilliantly odd imaginations and incredible talent only found in such productions.
A woman named Faux Pas, dressed as a cupcake, suddenly transformed into a wedding cake—before changing gender entirely and doing acrobatics across the stage; a vampiric little person strutted across the stage, moving in sensuous gyrations and stripping down to nothing but pasties; and just as the performers were getting warmed up, a naked pregnant woman took to the stage, was then dressed by other performers, and then executed an exceptionally tasteful performance.
All the camp and kitsch framed an evening full of more than just an exploration of the decadent, though. Underneath the MAC makeup and edible underwear, the Burlesque Festival was really about the camaraderie brought on by the passion and dedication unique to this crowd.
“Never, ever, ever—for the rest of your lives,” said MC Scotty the Blue Bunny, “wonder if the human heart is real.” He made a sweeping gesture toward the crowd with his plastic cup of vodka. “Love is real.”