2013 Layman’s Guide to U.S. Burlesque Festivals


Layman’s Guide to U.S. Burlesque Festivals

To obtain the print copy of this guide along with a handy (and adorable!) map illustration of all the locations below, pick up your copy of the Winter 2012 Best of Pin Curl issue, available here.

By: Femme Vivre LaRouge

Annual burlesque festivals have sprung up all over the country as the burlesque revival, now two decades strong, continues to grow.  No matter where you are in the great states, there’s a burlesque festival somewhere near you.  If you’re itching to take a racy road trip around the United States, we’ve got your itinerary right here!

Everything starts to heat up on Valentine’s Day with the 7th Annual Southwest Burlesque Showcase, February 14-16, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  For more information about this fabulous festival, see http://swburlesqueshowcase.com.

Or you could head down to the Lone Star State to start off your festival circuit at the 5th Annual Dallas Burlesque Festival, in Dallas, Texas.  We don’t know the dates for this burlesque and pinup celebration yet, but all the info will be available at http://dallasburlesquefest.com.

Another option in February is the 4th Annual Key West Burlesque Festival in Key West, Florida.  For some wild burlesque and variety entertainment, watch for the dates at http://www.keywestburlesque.com.

For more burlesque-y goodness, visit the 3rd Annual Southern Fried Burlesque Fest, March 21-24, in Atlanta, Georgia.  There’s sure to be plenty of variety, and plenty of workshops at this fast-growing festival; find out more at http://southernfriedburlesquefest.com/.

Also beginning March 21 is the 10th Annual Moisture Festival in Seattle, Washington.  As the website (http://www.moisturefestival.org) says, “The Moisture Festival is the world’s largest Comedy/Varietè festival, running for four weeks every spring in Seattle.”  The festival lasts until April 14 so you’ll have plenty of time to catch some of it.

March 28-31 brings the 16th Annual Viva Las Vegas rockabilly festival in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Touted at “The biggest rockabilly party in the world,” this festival includes a smorgasbord of activities including burlesque and pinup events, a classic car show, and a killer music lineup.  Check the website for more details: http://www.vivalasvegas.net.

However, you’ll have a difficult choice to make between Viva Las Vegas and the 7th Annual Great Burlesque Exposition in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Taking place March 29-31, this burlesque festival includes an impressive variety of classes, a historical costume display, and an art show “for interesting and innovative pieces from painters, photographers, sculptors, graphic artists, and anyone else who has found their muse at a burlesque show.”  See http://www.burlesque-expo.com/home.cfm for more.

April 11-13 gives you another chance to visit Texas, for the 6th Annual Texas Burlesque Festival in Austin.  The coming year will include performances, workshops, a competition, and “Austin’s First Ever Burlesque Ball.”  Get all the late-breaking news on this one at http://www.texasburlesquefestival.com/home.php.

You could also attend the 3rd Annual Kansas City Burlesque Festival on April 25-27, in Kansas City, Missouri for the crowning of the next Kansas City Queen and King of Burlesque!  Find all the details at: http://www.kcburlesque.com/HOME.html!

Back after a short break is Tease-o-Rama, which began bringing the burlesque community together in 2001 with performances by “The Best of the Best in Burlesque”, workshops, a photo safari, and Tea&Gossip with the Legends of Burlesque.  The event has been held in New Orleans, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, and L.A., and we can’t wait to see what http://www.teaseorama.com/2012/ will say about the 2013 schedule.

As no dates have yet been revealed, we can only hope that there will be a 2nd Annual New York Boylesque Festival.  “Celebrating the Male Performer and the Best of Male Burlesque”, New York, New York’s first boylesque festival, in 2012, provided workshops and networking geared toward the menfolk, and performances that everyone could enjoy!  Keep checking the website (http://www.nyboylesquefestival.com/) to see what’s in the works for 2013– I know I will be!

May 2-5 brings an exciting new experience, FIERCE! The First International Queer Burlesque Festival, in Columbus, Ohio.  Check it out at http://www.fiercequeerburlesque.com.

The month of May alsobrings us back to the Show Me State, for the 4th Show Me Burlesque and Vaudeville Fest, May 16-18, in St. Louis, Missouri.  This burlesque and variety extravaganza includes workshops along with striptease, circus, and vaudeville acts.  I treated myself to the 2012 festival, and I can assure you that you will not be disappointed!  Find out more here: http://showmeburlesque.com/.

Although we don’t have the dates yet, May is the time for the 7th Annual Americana Burlesque and Sideshow Festival in Asheville, North Carolina.  Featuring workshops, burlesque, sideshow, and vaudeville performances, you can learn about ‘ABSfest’ at http://www.absfest.com/.

June 6-9 brings us to a truly difficult decision.  One option is the 12th Annual Hukilau in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  “The largest annual celebration of Tiki culture on the East Coast, the Hukilau is a celebration of Polynesian pop culture with live music and entertainment, and much, much more.  Book your trip at: http://www.thehukilau.com/2013/!

The alternative June 6-9 trip is to the star-studded Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Presenting absolutely amazing burlesque, boylesque, and variety performances, the BHOF Weekend includes a Q&A with the Legends of Burlesque as well as a Legends performance and tribute night, marvelous workshops, a photo safari, plenty of mingling and boozing opportunities, and features the Queen of Burlesque competition formerly known as Miss Exotic World.  While you’re there, don’t forget to visit the Burlesque Hall of Fame’s exhibition space to view some of the “art, artifacts and personal histories of the art’s biggest names and brightest stars.” http://www.burlesquehall.com.

Next year’s dates are TBA, but June is the month of the 3rd Annual Carolina Burlesque Festival in Charleston, South Carolina.  This burlesque and variety festival offers workshops, live music, and a pageant; stay posted by checking http://www.carolinaburlesquefestival.com/index.html.

The next one is high up on my bucket list – the annual Mermaid Parade at Coney Island, New York!  Founded in 1983, “the Mermaid Parade pays homage to Coney Island’s forgotten Mardi Gras which lasted from 1903 to 1954,” and each year a new King Neptune and Queen Mermaid are crowned.   The parade is followed by a ball and burlesque and sideshow performances: http://www.coneyisland.com/mermaid.shtml.  But that’s not all!  There’s ‘Burlesque on the Beach’ all summer long at Coney Island.  Burlesque on the Beach is “a revival of the most glorious and notorious of the “girlie revues” in Coney Island history.  A blend of old style burlesque, sideshow freaks, strange women, new vaudeville and toe tappin’ music,” you can see the lineup as it’s released at http://www.coneyisland.com/burlesque.shtml.

Although we don’t yet know when, the 4th Annual Pennsylvania Burlesque Festival will most likely take place in June, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Formerly known as the Jim Thorpe Burlesque Festival, this event features burlesque performers from around the country: http://www.paburlesque.com/.

July also has some great festivals: this year will mark the 4th Annual Windy City Burlesque Festival, in Chicago, Illinois as well as the 4th Annual Colorado Burlesque Festival, in Denver, Colorado.  Each event provides classes and top notch burlesque performances.  More information about these two stellar festivals can be found at

http://windycityburlesquefest.com and  http://www.coloradoburlesquefestival.com/, respectively.

Another option for July is visiting the annual Circus City Festival, Inc. in Peru, Indiana.  Held July 13-20, in “The Circus Capital of the World,” this event boasts “longest running circus parade in the United States.”  http://www.perucircus.com/

August gives us another opportunity to visit Ohio, for the 3rd Annual Ohio Burlesque Festival, in Cleveland, Ohio.  The dates are TBA, but this festival hosts burlesque and variety performances, and is unique in that it chooses a charity to support each year.  Learn more at http://www.ohioburlesque.com/index.html.

We’re also awaiting announcement of the 2nd Annual ABurlyQ! Festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which made its debut last August with a burlesque and sideshow lineup and festivities: http://www.aburlyq.com/.

Depending on the dates that are decided upon, you’ll either have a very busy month travelling to all the magnificent September festivals, or you’ll have some very difficult choices to make.  2013 will bring us the 11th Annual New York Burlesque Festival in New York, New York.  Along with performances, classes, and parties, this event includes an extra special competition, The Golden Pastie Awards.  These awards honor member of the biz with titles such as “The MacGyver Award,” “Performer Most Likely to Start a Harem,” and “The Performer You Would Call with Your One Quarter from Jail.”  Find out all about it at http://www.thenewyorkburlesquefestival.com/index.php.

The 5th Annual New Orleans Burlesque Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana, has a more traditional title for its competition winners: Queen of Burlesque!  The weekend is chock full of workshops and shows, all appropriately located near Bourbon Street, which “featured the largest concentration of burlesque clubs than anywhere in the U.S…from the mid-1940s through the 1960s.”  Look for updates at http://neworleansburlesquefest.com/.

September also means that it’s time to visit Chicago again, this time for the 4th Annual Superstars of Burlesque.  Catch all the latest about this burlesque festival at http://superstarsofburlesque.com/.

As if October weren’t an exciting month already, it will now bring us the 2nd Annual Alabama Burlesque Festival, in Rocket City (Huntsville), Alabama.  We don’t have dates for the return of this brand new festival, but the place to watch for updates is http://rocketcityburlesque.com/.  A portion of the proceeds from the 2012 festival benefitted The Pinup Angels’ mission to send care packages to our troops!

And speaking of pinups, a 2nd Annual American Pinup Burlesque Fest is already set for October 25-27 in Tampa Bay Area, Florida.  This event will consist of the Miss Pinup America Pageant, Burlesque America Competition, a Car Show, Bike Show, Tattoo Contest, and workshops!  Check it out at http://www.americanpinupburlesquefest.com/.

November brings the opportunity to round out your year with a very special convention, the 6th Annual Burlycon in Seattle, Washington.  As stated on their website, “BurlyCon is an annual Burlesque Educational convention that provides educational offerings, professional growth and in-person social networking for the Burlesque Community. Our aim is to further the development and historical knowledge of this rare American art form that is experiencing a popular resurgence worldwide.”  There are no performances, but there are over 100 classes taught by the best in the biz!  Keep in the know by checking http://burlycon.org/ for updates.

One last group to keep in mind when making your performance-art-based travel plans is the United States Association of Fringe Festivals.  Dating back to 1947, the original Fringe Festival was created in Edinburgh, Scotland, and Fringe performing arts festivals can now be found worldwide.  “A celebration featuring theatre and related live presentations with a special emphasis on original and innovative forms and formats,” there are a plethora of these productions to choose from in the U.S.: http://fringefestivals.us/festival.

Happy Travels!


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  2. Thanks for keeping us “abreast”! If there’s anyone else we overlooked, please do comment so we can make sure we include you in our next revision! Thanks for supporting Pin Curl Magazine! XOXO

  3. The 3rd Annual Ohio Burlesque Festival will be taking place Aug 2nd and 3rd 2013 at The Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, OH.

    For this holiday season we are removing out fee as our gift to the burlesque world, you can apply for free ONLY from dates Dec 12th to Dec 25th 2012. NO APPLICATION FEE in those dates. Application shuts down and re opens in January with an early bird price and continues Till March! Cast Announced by May 1st 2013.
    We welcome Beginners to Experts!

    http://www.ohioburlesque.com for more information and upto date news !


    The Minneapolis Burlesque Festival (www.minneapolisburlesquefest.com) will present its first annual event, Jan 31 – Feb 3 at the Ritz Theater, showcasing a cavalcade of variety acts, comedy, aerial, drag, music, and the crème de la crème of burlesque with more than 80 performers from 23 cities.

    Headlining the festival is the very first living legend of burlesque to grace the stage in Minneapolis, The Lady Divine, Ms. Judith Stein (www.theartofburlesque.com). Ms. Stein is an acclaimed international performer, an important part of burlesque history, and a charismatic speaker. To the delight of audiences and students everywhere, she continues to perform and mentor through workshops and classes. She was recently inducted into the Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas as Canada’s only Legend of Burlesque.

    The festival will offer two days of burlesque workshops (Fri-Sat) presented by The Playful Peacock Showgirl Academy with instructors known as the best in the business. Course offerings are for all levels and include costuming, dance techniques, stage presence, and more. Ms. Stein will present a class called “My Life,” a casual presentation about her long career as an international burlesque sensation. For more information, class schedules, teacher bios, and registration, please visit http://www.playfulpeacock.com.

    The MBF lineup includes world-class burlesque artists from all across the U.S., Canada, and Tokyo via Montreal. Featured performers include local favorites Foxy Tann, Victoria DeVille, Elektra Cute, Switch the Boi Wonder, and Ophelia Flame (Burlesque Hall of Fame Reigning Queen of Burlesque First Runner-Up). Award-winning guests include Alotta Boutté, Amber Ray, Bazuka Joe, Blanche DeBris, Burgundy Brixx, Cherry Typhoon, Dolls of Doom, Frenchie Kiss, Kellita, Lux LaCroix, Minnie Tonka, and many more!

    TICKETS: http://www.ritz-theater.org

    Thu, Jan 31 @8pm
    Fri, Feb 1 @8pm
    Sat, Feb 2 @7pm & 10pm

    Reserved Seating
    $25 / $30 / $150

    Ritz Theater
    345 13th Ave NE
    Minneapolis MN 55413

    Alotta Boutté (San Francisco)

    Amber Ray (NYC)
Angelique De Vil (Portland, OR)

    Anytime Jones (Fargo)
Bazuka Joe (Chicago)

    Bettie Beware (Minneapolis)

    Black Hearts Burlesque (Minneapolis)

    Blanche DeBris (Las Vegas)

    Burgundy Brixx (Vancouver)

    Caramel Knowledge (Los Angeles)

    Cherry Typhoon (Tokyo/Montreal)
Cirque du Pôle (Minneapolis)
Coco Dupree (Minneapolis)
Creamed Stu (NYC)

    Dahlia Dulce (Minneapolis)

    Dangrrr Doll (NYC)

    Desda “Mae Q” Moana (Indianapolis)
Dolls of Doom (Chicago)

    DRP Dance (Minneapolis)

    Elektra Cute (Minneapolis)

    Essence Revealed (NYC)
Eva LaFeva (Chicago)

    Fiona Flame (St. Louis)

    Foxy Tann & the Wham Bams (Minneapolis)

    Frenchie Kiss (Chicago)
Gentleman King (Minneapolis)

    Gin Minsky (NYC)

    Gina Louise (Minneapolis)
Ida Claire (Huntsville, AL)

    Jonny Porkpie (NYC)

    Josephine Belle (Minneapolis)

    Judith Stein (Canada)
Karen Vieno Paurus (Minneapolis)

    Kellita (San Francisco)

    Kiss Me Kate (San Francisco)

    Lady Jack (Chicago)
Lando Blaze & Narcissa (Chicago)
    Lola Martinet (San Francisco)

    Lucy Flawless (Chicago)
Lucy Furr (Minneapolis)

    Lux La Croix (Los Angeles)

    Minnie Tonka (NYC)
Mona Montague (St. Paul)

    Moxie Rhodes (Madison)

    Musette (Minneapolis)

    Nicky Ninedoors & Brother Keys (Vancouver)

    Nicollette Moll (Minneapolis)

    Nikki Knickers (Minneapolis)

    Ophelia Flame (Minneapolis)

    Opiumm Hayze (Minneapolis)

    Pandora (Twin Cities)

    Peekaboo Pointe (NYC)

    Phoenix Rising Chicago (Chicago)
Pickles Kintaro (San Francisco)

    The Playful Peacocks (Minneapolis)

    Po’Chop (Chicago)

    Pouty Petals (Minneapolis)

    Queenie von Curves (Minneapolis)

    Red Austere (Minneapolis)

    RedBone (Minneapolis)
Rhonda Vous (Chicago)
Ruby Rage (New Orleans)

    Sizzle Dizzle (NYC)

    Smokey Throbinson (Minneapolis)

    Stella Fox (Denver)

    Sugar St. Clair (Milwaukee)

    Sweet LillyBee (Minneapolis)

    Switch the Boi Wonder (Minneapolis)

    Tila Von Twirl (Chicago)

    Ulla Umlaut (St. Paul)

    Victoria DeVille (Minneapolis)

    Vincent Van Gogh Gogh (Minneapolis)

    Vivian MirAnn (Albuquerque)

  5. Thank you SO MUCH for including Fierce! The First International Queer Burlesque Festival. We’re so excited to be offering this unique performance and networking opportunity to the LGBTQIA community! And… this festival is going to be FUN AS HELL with Indigo Blue (2011 Miss Exotic World) and Tigger! (the Godfather of Boylesque) as the weekend’s headliners! Hope that everyone can come out and support this fantastic event in Columbus, Ohio May 2-5!! besos – Viva!

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