BurlyCute's Cora Vette has heard a lot of misconceptions about burlesque. While some think of it simply as "that stripping stuff," others are totally clueless to the fact that it involves nudity, expecting the tame pop star antics of Christina Aguilera and Cher in the misleadingly titled film Burlesque. In advance of "BurlyCute's Most Wanted" and the 2012 Colorado Burlesque Calendar Release Party tonight at Bender's Tavern, we caught up with Ms. Vette to debunk some misguided notions about burlesque by telling us five things you may not know about the art of the tease.
1. The tease is more important than the strip. Cora Vette: There are entire numbers where you actually don't see anything, and that can be just as evocative as a naked person. Gypsy Rose Lee, back in the day, would do numbers where she didn't show anything. There's a lot of strip and there's a lot of tease, but the difference between stripping and burlesque artists is it's the tease, not the strip that's important.
2. Yes, there is some stripping, despite what you've seen in the film Burlesque. CV: Michelle L'amour, who is a burlesque queen from Chicago, when that movie came out she posted on Facebook page something like "I know, I'm gonna do a movie that has nothing but burlesque in it and I'm gonna call it Pop Star." For better or worse, the movie ended up ultimately raising the level of awareness. When people discover that not only is it dancing and stuff, it's also naked, then they're like "Woo hoo, that's even better."
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3. Burlesque was the original sitcom. CV: When people hear the word burlesque, they think oh, it's that striptease stuff. But originally burlesque wasn't stripping at all. In the turn of the century burlesque actually technically meant "in an upside down style." I call it the original sitcom. It was parodies and satire; there was so much more to the actual burlesque than just stripping in the beginning. There's so much humor in burlesque. Originally burlesque shows were actually lampooning pop culture. They would do shows making fun of politics at the time; it had nothing to do with stripping. Stripping came around, depending on who you talk to, in the 20s and more likely in 30s. But burlesque has actually been around since 1870.
4. Burlesque allows all body types. CV:If you think you're sexy, then you're sexy. Before it was mainly focused on a certain ideal, and what's happening in the neo-burlesque scene right now is it's actually turning into the third wave of feminism. It's really being embraced by feminists, which is sort of weird, because you wouldn't necessarily think that strippers are feminists. It doesn't matter if you have hips or you're flat-chested or you're a little overweight or you're too skinny, the emphasis is more on confidence and feeling like you're sexy. And if you think you're sexy then the audience is gonna think you're sexy. It's really great to see more and more body types highlighted.
5. Not all burlesque shows are created equal. CV:People hear "burlesque" and they think it's gowns and gloves and boas. And there's absolutely a lot of that, which is great. There's a lot of focus on classic burlesque, which is what we consider that, but now there's all sorts of different expressions that have grown out of that: Comic burlesque and punk rock burlesque and musical theater burlesque. The next show we're doing at Bender's we're calling "Boobs Over Broadway," and it's gonna be all show tunes sung like you've never seen them before. If you've seen one burlesque show, you haven't seen them all.