Fifties Fashion and Glamour with Elsa Riot and Pearl Buttons

1950s, Meet the Performers

You guys! It’s already Thursday and that means we are just over a week away from our Decadent debut in Boston. We thought you’d like to meet two more Boston-based performers, Elsa Riot and Pearl Buttons, the dynamic duo who will be putting the FAB in ’50s.

Elsa Riot

Web: elsariot.com
FB: ElsaRiot
IG: elsa.riot

Elsa is producer, curator, and host of Somerville’s premier variety show Smoke & Shadows and the monthly midnight vaudeville pop-up Top Shelf Burlesque.

Pearl Buttons

Web: pearlbuttonsburlesque.com
FB: Pearl Buttons
IG: pearl_buttons

Pearl has been dancing classical ballet and American jazz since she was three, and melds her dance roots with a love for Old Hollywood and all things sparkly to achieve a truly spectacular stage presence.

Elsa and Pearl encapsulate the glamour of classic burlesque, adding a twist of their own earnest charm and signature doofy grins – perfect representatives for the 1950s’ simple luxury and cool-headed quirk!

Let’s learn more about them…

1. What is your favorite thing about the 1950s?
Elsa: The “Beat Generation” counterculture. The 1950s stand out as a stringent time in American history that wanted to see conformity and consumerism from citizens more than anything else. That pressure gave way to interesting and radical movements, styles, culture, and politics – these were the first echoes of sexual liberation, pacifism, anti-capitalism, the end of segregation, rock & roll, and so on. Our act for this show communicates a sexual transformation that mirrors the rejection of traditional 1950s homemaking in favor of freedom and sensuality.

Pearl: Movie musicals. The beginning Cold War meant that this decade was a terrifying time for a lot of Americans and I think the escapism that lighthearted films offered was really important and continues to be now.

Photo: Striker Posie

2. If you could have drinks/dinner with any person from that era, real or fictional, who would it be and why?
Elsa: Marlene Dietrich! She was a sharp and fearless woman in every sense. She was a brilliant variety performer and a sharp businesswoman. She exuded glamour with flawless makeup and the slinkiest dresses and would still put on a top hat and tails to sing songs written for men. She owned her sexuality and laughed in the face of criticism from American churches. She was politically outspoken and anti-war, and as a German during WWII condemned the Nazi party and mobilized with other American stars to help Jews and dissidents escape Europe. And her impeccable style is all over my Pinterest boards. I think she would be amazing to learn from and laugh with over drinks!

Pearl: Probably Charles James. He’s described as “America’s first couturier” and Christian Dior credited him with inspiring the New Look. His designs were so amazingly structured and impeccably tailored. The Met costume institute did a display of his work and showed the inner structure of some of his most famous gowns and it was so fascinating. James also created the “taxi dress,” which was designed to be so easy you could slip it on in the back of a taxi. I love when couture designers also create work that is practical and wearable. He designed right up until his death and that passion for your art is so important. I’m a total tailoring geek and I’d love to discuss technique with him over coffee

3. Is there anyone from today you think embodies the idea of the 1950s?
Elsa: Today’s politics certainly ring familiar to the McCarthyist vibes of the 1950s, but to look at the brighter and more forward-thinking side of the ’50s, I often think about Michelle Obama as the new Jackie O. At first glance she’s a paragon of what is expected of American women – a good mother, supportive wife, smart and attractive but not intimidatingly so – but is in fact strong, independent, glamorous, accomplished, and spirited all on her own. They both stand out as First Ladies who excelled in the public eye, shifted American culture, and left a legacy separate from their husbands.

Photo: Striker Posie

Pearl: I definitely agree with Elsa on Michelle Obama. I think her grace under pressure is remarkable. I admire her ability to balance the traditional role of a first lady while being an incredible political force in her own right. They also both know how to seriously rock a sheath dress.

Come see Elsa, Pearl and the rest of our magical lineup on October 7 at The Rockwell, 255 Elm Street, Somerville, MA, 02144. Doors open at 9:30. A portion of proceeds will benefit The Hispanic Federation to help with hurricane and earthquake relief.

READ MORE ABOUT THE 1950s HERE.

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