The A to Z of Burlesque (part one)

The A to Z of burlesque (part one) …

I thought it might be kinda fun to put together an “A to Z” of burlesque in New Zealand.  It’s become a two-part series over two days because 26 letters is A LOT!

MumptyStyle Burlesque FestCheck out this gorgeous lineup of talent – this is the curtain call at the King & Queen of the Festival Show at the 2014 NZ Burlesque Festival in Palmerston North this year. 

Anyway .. on to the A to Z!

A is for adult entertainment …
Let’s face it, while burlesque does not generally contain FULL nudity, it’s certainly not a family show either.  It can be confrontational, disturbing, sexy and funny – and all those emotions might be aroused during the course of just one routine!

B … is for Boobs
Really rather important in the world of burlesque – boobs are fabulous things aren’t they?  They can be squeezed, pushed and turned into voluptuous mountains by a corset; decorated with pasties and twirled and shaken to whip the audience into a frenzy!  Ms Tittle Tattle (below) shows just “how you burlesque!”  MumptyStyle Boobs
C is for Cupcakes …
As  in “show us your cupcakes!”  Burlesque etiquette is an important part of a burlesque show and MC’s generally give the audience a bit of a lesson beforehand!  Punters are encouraged to participate as much as possible, but yelling out “show us ya tits” is not considered “cricket”!

D is for Dita Von Teese …
Although she’s not a New Zealand burlesquer, you can’t really have an “A to Z of Burlesque ” without Dita Von Teese now can you?  Credited with “bringing back burlesque” Dita is one of the burlesque world’s biggest stars, and her brand of glamour and sophistication is simply to-die-for!  MumptyStyle Dita

E is for eyelashes …
The bigger, the better!  Eyelashes are an important part of a showgirl’s costume and they come in all shapes, sizes, colours and patterns.

MumptyStyle Pixie
Pixie Twist demonstrates the art of the eyelash!

F is for fingers … 
One of the most important “tools of tease” – fingers should be soft and floaty; never clumped and clawlike.  Ms Tittle Tattle advocates “butterfly fingers.”

G is for glitter …
You will NEVER attend a burlesque show where glitter is not in evidence!  It’s a staple of the showgirl’s wardrobe.  Shhhh … “g” is also for g-string and Flo Foxworthy does some GORGEOUS ones.MumptyStyle Glitter

H is for history …
Burlesque has a long and colourful history dating back since almost forever!  It was well established in the Victorian times and they often used the works of Shakespeare as their characters.  Later, American burlesque emerged as an offshoot of Victorian burlesque and was believed to have started as the lower class portion of the Vaudevillan variety acts in the 1860’s.  It caused a sensation because of it’s outrageous nature and and exposure of the showgirl’s legs.  The Ziegeld Follies made their debut at the turn of the century when a New York City law stated that “one could undress as long as one was standing still“!  We’ve come a long way since then huh!  The Minsky Brothers were credited with “making burlesque classy” and the shimmy and striptease became their trademark.  Burlesque lost its fun for a while when it was considered in very poor taste, although there were some fabulous performances by the likes of Sally Rand, Gypsy Rose Lee, Tempest Storm, Lili St Cyr and their ilk.  Over the last ten years or so it has really made its comeback in the form of neo-burlesque, thanks in large part, to Dita Von Teese.

MumptyStyle Gypsy Rose Lee
The infamous Gypsy Rose Lee

I is for imagery …
Burlesque babes put massive effort into their choreography and costuming in order to leave gorgeous images in your mind … we hope you appreciate it!

J is for joking …
The word burlesque is derived from the Italian word burlesco, which in turn, is derived from the Italian word, burla – a joke, ridicule or mockery.  Thus, much of burlesque is rooted in comedy.  It has been defined as “a musical work intended to cause laughter by caricaturing the manner or spirit of serious works, or by ludicrous treatment of their subjects.”  In their routines, burlesque babes poke fun and make jokes about people, situations and events through the medium of dance and striptease.

K is for … knickers
And more specifically, frilly or tassled knickers – which you will see in abundance in the burlesque world!

L is for love …
As in “show us some love!”  Burlesque performers need an involved and appreciative audience to deliver a good performance … do you know how HARD it is to perform to a stoic, non-involved crowd?  It’s VERY hard!  So please … when you’re next at a burlesque show, scream your lungs out!  (But just remember your burlesque etiquette!)MumptyStyle Audience

M is for merkin …
Essentially, a pubic wig!  Burlesque babes don’t get “all-the-way” naked, so they will always wear, at the very least, pasties and a g-string.  The furtherest they’ll go is a merkin, and while I will spare you the image, you can expect a burlesquer’s merkin to be highly decorated and sparkly!

So there you have it folks.  Come back tomorrow for part two.

Love …



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