Burlesque’s Feminist History

by moxielicious

Why Burlesque? So let’s dive in for a moment and learn a little something about the shake and shimmy of the art form that has inspired our 2013 Annual Fundraiser An Evening of Burlesque with MOXIE on May 25th featuring performances by a bit o’ Burlesque and a finale’ by the MOXIEs! Chances are, you’ll learn it’s a whole lot more than you thought!

Lydia Thompson and the British Blondes toured the US in 1860 a revolutionized how we viewed Burlesque.

Lydia Thompson and the British Blondes toured the US in 1860 revolutionized how we saw Burlesque.

We chose our favorite summary of Burlesque written by Burlesque performer Burgundy Brixx. You can learn more about Burgundy and other Burlesque performers on www.burlesquestars.net

 A brief History of Burlesque:

Burlesque itself was first recognized as a theatrical art form in the mid 1800’s, although its roots clearly lie in our human nature and early Greek comedy. Our foremother of burlesque is recognized as Lydia Thompson. Performer, producer, troupe-leader, and writer, she is accredited with popularizing burlesque shows in Europe, and bringing burlesque to America. The burlesque that began thriving in the 1840’s was inherently feminist in nature. Women were breaking new ground by creating, producing and acting – including the male roles while wearing such shape-revealing men’s costumes as Greek togas – in witty, earthy productions that commented on society and in doing so, challenged women’s roles in that society. As earthy humor and skimpy attire were always at burlesque’s core, it makes sense that as society became more liberal, so did the art form.

Minsky’s was one of the most famous Burlesque houses in New York from 1912-1937

Soon the theatrical form evolved into burlesque’s “Golden Age” of the 1930’s in shows that included saucy showgirls in revealing costumes singing songs full of double entendres, operatic singers crooning popular ballads, top comics performing blue comedy and of course, striptease. This was the era of the big burlesque strip-tease stars headlining the shows. As time wore on, the theatres closed and burlesque moved to the nightclubs. The down-size eliminated a lot of the large-scale theatrics and began focusing on the strip-teasers in the 1940’s. Most full burlesque theatres were gone by the 1950’s.

Why is it so popular today?

We live in an era of immediacy and burlesque is short-attention-span-theatre. It has the ability to give an audience absolute gratification in a short period of time. We’re also in a period of economic unrest, and historically Burlesque always thrived during similar times, with the Great Depression of the 1930’s being the golden heyday of the art. It was always touted as “working class entertainment”.  The jokes poked fun at the rich, and the strip-teasers peeled out of gowns more decadent and elegant as ones worn by the wealthiest of matrons, showing that we all have the same flesh and humanity underneath. And that, dear friends, is the naked truth!

And there you have it. The MOXIEs are thrilled to party down with you Burlesque style on May 25th 8pm at An Evening of Burlesque with MOXIE. We invite you to put together a costume, maybe even create your own Burlesque name and join us for a little libation and liberation. Tickets on sale now www.moxietheatre.com/burlesque or call 858-598-7620