Welcome to our very first Burlesque Roundtable. The hope is to create an open dialogue to discuss relevant burlesque questions in an honest manner. Have a questions you would like to propose or two cents you would like to throw into the ring? Please do so via comments, we would love to hear from you!
Talking Point #1:
With so many festivals from coast to coast now, and so many titles to be won (many including the word Queen or Princess), The Reigning Queen of Burlesque title doesn’t have the weight it used to, and BHoF Weekend Festival isn’t the end all be all it used to be.
Blaze (Dallas)– I think that BHoF is still the pinnacle and does still carry a lot of weight. Those that are involved in the burlesque community know that there are different levels of competition and that is the top. The other festivals are still wonderful and mean an awful lot to those who win those titles (including me, reigning Queen of Burlesque of the Great Southern Exposure) and I think they are encouraging the community to reach to higher levels NOW. BHoF can only take a few performers at a time and everyone doesn’t want to sit on the sidelines all the time. This gives people to hone their craft now.
Minnie Tonka (NYC) I disagree. For me, The Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend will always be the most important burlesque festival in our amazing community due to its history, affiliation with the museum, and its relevance and impact on the past, present and future of burlesque worldwide.
It is exciting that burlesque festivals are popping up around the country (and world) over the past few years because it demonstrates that burlesque is growing and gaining more recognition and support in the mainstream, which I believe benefits us. Titles that are awarded at newer festivals can be fun and nice especially to new performers because ideally, it can help build confidence, boost one’s desire to continue to grow as a performer, and encourage one’s commitment and sense of responsibility to our burlesque community. However, I don’t take all of these awards and titles too seriously.
I am not against competition in burlesque because I think it can raise the bar for burlesque, help us strive to become better performers, and inspire us to work on our craft. However, outside of BHoF, I prefer silly and frivolous awards like the NYBF’s Golden Pasties. For example, in 2010, I won the Golden Pastie Award for the performer “Most Likely To Get Everyone Kicked Out of a Hotel” – which actually did happen at the Key West Holiday Extravaganza earlier that year! Uh-oh!!
Violet O’ Hara (Dallas) Competition is great and hard work should be recognized, but I prefer to see specific awards given (i.e. most innovative, audience choice, best duo, most original, best ensemble, novelty act, etc…) instead of the Princess and Queen titles.
Jo Weldon (NYC) The excitement around BHOF still seems to be unique, and there seems to be a passion about that title that no other title generates. However, it’s fair to say that there are now, as Scotty the Blue Bunny recently pointed out, various communities in burlesque, with different centers. People who don’t go to BHOF are able to keep pretty busy with gigs and such. BHOF matters to a specific group as much as it ever did, to other burlesque communities somewhat less than to the first specific group, and to some communities and individuals it’s pretty irrelevant. However, there are still people who just live for the Legends night. Also, there was an idea that BHOF was always a particular thing and operated in a particular way, but there have been advances and differences every year for about the past seven and maybe in every year before that. People tend to think that a thing has always been the way it was when they first encountered it, and that it should always stay that way. But that’s rarely the case with ANY organization or community.
Roxie Moxie (Seattle/Austin) Why do we focus so much on titles? I have a special place in my heart for BHOF Weekend, but that’s because it’s such an epic gathering of Burlesque talent and enthusiasm. It’s like Burlesque Mecca – a special sparkly holy place where we can all go once a year to worship the art in full. It’s not about who wins or doesn’t – it’s about celebrating Burlesque! That’s an awesome thing for us party girls!
Trixie Minx (New Orleans) I think BHOF is an amazing festival and my favorite of all the festivals I’ve attended. Part of the reason I enjoy BHOF is that it feels more like a community than a competition. And while they do have a competition the legends night is the highlight of the weekend in my opinion.
I’ve never competed nor do I desire to do so. I do not have an official title but I’m well respected in my community, I bring lots of wonderful performers together for great shows, and I am contributing to the living history that is Burlesque in New Orleans. I definitely don’t want to offend or downplay what a title means to many people, but for me it doesn’t make sense to compete in a medium that is (again in my opinion) art. Art is subjective, what is beautiful to one might not be so to another.