Burlesque was originally used to describe comical literature, theatrical productions and musical pieces that mocked serious topics. Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” is often described as burlesque for it’s mocking portrayal of romance.
But the term took on a newer, sexier meaning when it hit American shores. American burlesque shows originally started as an offshoot of English burlesque, with British burlesque troupe Lydia Thompson and the British Blondes achieving notoriety in New York in 1868. At that time, burlesque shows were more of a variety show that consisted of comic sketches, acrobats, magicians, and chorus bits, but eventually American burlesque began to focus more on female nudity. By the 1930s burlesque shows focused mostly on stripping with one or two comics performing between acts. Some notable celebrities got their start in burlesque including Mae West, Abbott and Costello, W.C. Fields, Al Jolson, Danny Kaye and Jackie Gleason.
Classic American burlesque began to fade in popularity with the onset of Prohibition and lingered on to waning popularity until the 70’s, when more sexually explicit strip clubs took over. But in the 90’s a revival began, and most towns in the U.S. now boast their own neo-burlesque troupe. Annual conventions like BurlyCon and Miss Exotic World Pageant draw thousands of attendees.
Brown Paper Tickets sells tickets to countless burlesque performances across the country, from Gotham Burlesque in New York City to Laramie Burlesque in Laramie, Wyoming to Tempting Tarts Burlesque in our home town of Seattle, Washington.
In Portland, Oregon this weekend, PDLesque is promising a weekend of workshops, classes, and shows celebrating Portland burlesque. This is a great weekend for anyone interested in becoming a burlesque performer or for those already well-versed in the art of the tease. They cover everything from burlesque ballet movement, StripHop dancing, and bellydancing moves to hair and makeup workshops and marketing classes. And of course, each night will close with a burlesque show featuring performers from Portland, Seattle and even Australia! Check out the entire schedule here. Pick up your tickets to any of the individual workshops or burlesque performances here.
Love burlesque but don’t live in Portland? No problem! Here are some other great burlesque events happening around the country throughout the month of August:
Friday, August 12 – Austin, Texas The Jigglewatts Burlesque Revue presents: “Paris je t’aime” The Jigglewatts Burlesque Revue presents a sumptuous evening of Parisian decadence at the 29th Street Ballroom at Spider House. The ladies of the Jigglewatts dial up the power for their stroll through the City of Light! Decadence, beauty, and love are the order of the day, as all of your belles du jour welcome you to this opulent spectacle. Featuring Sassy Delure, just returned from performances in London, Ruby Joule, Pearl Lux, Goldie Candela, Jolie Ampere Goodnight, and Ruby Lamb, with your ever-fabulous host of cabaret perfection, Rudy Ramirez, aka “Freddy For Anything!”
Thursday, August 18 – Seattle, Washington Tempting Tarts Burlesque Presents: TARTS ACROSS AMERICA! Come celebrate all that this great big, beautiful country has to offer with the Tempting Tarts as they set out on a road trip across America. The ladies will be sending you all burlesque postcards of their favorite places and spaces across the country. From California, to the New York Island, this land is made for Tempting Tarts Burlesque.
Saturday, August 20 – Boise, Idaho “Girls on Film” presented by Cherry Bombs Burlesque & Cabaret A stellar evening celebrating the greatest women of cinema and the moments that made them icons. This is an all-new, multi-media show! Come see a few of your favorite Bombs: Lady Bomb DeLuxe, Tootsie Time Bomb, and Fifi Giatine. And welcome new Cherry Bombs: Thelma Gunsmoke, Moxie Mayhem, and Panty Mime, to the stage! Plus, there will be a few amazing special guests, like Donna Darko & Scarlet Fever, to round out the show.
Saturday, August 27 – Las Vegas, Nevada Live Burlesque in Las Vegas! presents…Striporama Live Burlesque in Las Vegas is a monthly Burlesque show produced by Cha Cha Velour. Live Burlesque in Las Vegas showcases local Las Vegas Burlesque performers as well as Burlesque performers from out of town. It is Las Vegas’ BEST Off Strip Burlesque Show!
Monday, August 29 – San Francisco, California Livid Cult Burlesque Theatre Presents: Tec.ni.kolor Sexxxpots Join Livid Cult Burlesque Theatre, The Bay Area’s most subversively sexy indie Burlesque show for its second show! This time, the ladies of Livid Cult will take you on a loud, bright, neon-nymphomaniacal journey into the music of pop culture and music icon, M.I.A.! Multimedia installments! Adult SHOW CONES! Loud music! Booty poppin!