Social Media blew up this weekend when Madame Cocksworthy of Tucson threw up a Nazi salute during her act and again at curtain call. The premise of the act was apparently to portray a Trump supporter in a satirical light, but the message missed the audience completely.
Ginger Whiskey of San Diego wrote:
The act was presented as a “satire” on white trash/make America great again rhetoric. Unfortunately the act lacked any real purpose, direction, and for any viewers who are not familiar to burlesque could easily be viewed as glorification. As I watched the act I hoped at the end there would be some clear message or conclusion. That conclusion was horrifying though as she did a Nazi salute. Hate speech and imagery has no place in burlesque. My stomach dropped. I was in shock. And then to my and other performers and audience members’ disgust she did it again during curtain call. She has been given opportunities to speak for herself and give any clarification, argument, or apology but instead has only chosen to block people and write hateful things about the people she offended.
On Social Media, Eva Mae Garnet wrote:
It was an act in which the lines between parody and glorifying were incredibly blurry. The salute was done twice. Once at the end of the act and once at curtain call. Within the act itself there was no need to even do that salute, and many of the people in the audience weren’t sure if it even was parody.
I was literally in tears after that act and had to get away from the venue to regroup……… especially when a bunch of white boys close to us were cheering it all on. I’m not one to call someone out versus call in, but this was awful.
When confronted on Facebook, Madame Cocksworthy decided to block people rather than respond or discuss the issue. “I think if you are going to make that bold of a statement you need to be prepared to fucking talk about it.”, said Garnet.
The Arizona Burlesque Festival was quick to respond:
We reached out to Madame Cocksworthy for a response. She first responded to our inquiry by sending us her preferred email address for questions. We sent what we thought were fair questions. (See below)
Q: You made the Sieg Heil gesture at the Arizona Burlesque festival at the end of your routine. The producers of the fest say it was not in your video audition for the fest. Why did you add the gesture? What did you hope the audience would take away from the gesture?
Q: You repeated the gesture at curtain call. Why?
Q: In hindsight, after the internet backlash, would you still have included the gesture both times on stage? Why or why not?
Madame Cocksworthy responded a few hours later with:
“Not responding to any of this?……. No will you twist my side of the story for your own benefit………The group doesn’t know their history nor can they see that unfairly bullying is not productive as bad as what they claim to be fight against!! ………. This pile of crap isn’t worth a bit of my time!”
We have no idea to “The group” to which she is referring.
Can you be successfully sarcastic in burlesque? Of course.
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Can you be political in burlesque? Of course.
Can you do both? Of course
Can you address heavy issues like race relations and global warming in burlesque with sarcasm? Of course.
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However, Madame Cocksworthy’s performance was not a good example of any of the above. Unfortunately, not only did this act fall flat, but so did the performer.