Blog

Fifties Fashion and Glamour with Elsa Riot and Pearl Buttons

Fifties Fashion and Glamour with Elsa Riot and Pearl Buttons

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.

Jazzing up the 1920s: Harley Foxx

Jazzing up the 1920s: Harley Foxx

FB: Harley Foxx
IG: harleyfoxxburlesque

Hello friends,

As you know, we are taking Decadent: 100 Years of Burlesque to Boston next month, so we thought we’d take a moment to introduce you to the fabulous performers who will be joining us.

First up, meet Harley Foxx, who will rep the 1920s. This swing and jazz aficionado shares some of her favorite things about this glamorous decade, including her love for the iconic Josephine Baker.

1. What is your favorite thing about the 1920s?
My favorite thing about this era is defined by the music and the dancing. My mother used to play Duke Ellington and Count Basie records, and she sang Billie Holiday around our house. As I got older I started swing dancing and it became even more infused into my soul.

I really love listening to “hot jazz” music, and those old syncopated rhythms. I have gradually been building this collection of swing music and I am totally amazed and humbled by the never-ending wealth of great music just waiting to be heard.

But aside from that, as a DJ I like to play whatever I think will keep people dancing – whether it’s chunky, up-tempo, or even contemporary swing. Some of my favorite artists include the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, Chick Webb, Django Reinhardt, Mildred Bailey, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Fats Waller (of course), Bob Crosby, as well as Wingy Manone. My love for both the music and dance are something that I try to share with everyone in my life.

Photo: Veronica Tays

2. If you could have drinks/dinner with any person from that era, real or fictional, who would it be?
I would love to sit down with the great Josephine Baker.

She had an independent spirit and had to learn to provide for herself and make her own way. This free and bold behavior led her to perform across the country and eventually she was able to sashay away to the Paris stage during the 1920s.

She was confident in her abilities and performed with a comic, yet sensual appeal that took Europe by storm. She had a perfect blend and I try to embody her character and flair in some of my pieces. Baker went on to perform and choreograph for 50 years in Europe.

Although racism in the States often restricted her from gaining the same fame at home as she did abroad, Baker fought segregation through organizations like NAACP. I would love to chat with her about where we are now in entertainment, burlesque and politics. Things are different from the 1920’s but I definitely feel like she would be a great mentor and be able to offer some insight and guidance.

Photo: Mandi Martini

3. Is there anyone from today you think embodies the idea of the 1920s?
Beyoncé is a great pop superstar who isn’t afraid of celebrating black brilliance and has often given nods to the black women performers who’ve inspired her. Beyoncé has paid tribute to Tina Turner and in 2006, she celebrated Jospehine Baker.

Beyoncé’s affinity for Baker comes as no surprise. Baker’s control of her art and her image were unprecedented for her time. Baker, a black woman beloved by white audiences, built her name by working within the status quo to transgress social boundaries. In her later life she became a civil rights activist.

Beyoncé does the same. Beyonce has also been able to navigate a space that tended to exclude (or at the very least limit) black women for a long time. Mainstream music and pop music specifically. Her album Formation made a lot of people realize how political and “woke” Beyoncé is. But she has always given nods in her music and videos on where she stands, her support to the artists who came before her, and her black culture.

Josephine baker and Beyoncé are two artists I love and admire and the fact it’s their blackness that makes them unique. I have found I don’t have to separate the blackness from the art. If you want to participate, indulge, be entertained, you must acknowledge black lives and black issues in the process. That is what they do and what I hope to do too.

Come see Harley 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 1920s HERE.

 

Decadent Photos!

Decadent Photos!

Finally! Here are some photos from Decadent: 100 Years of Burlesque. From Dandy Dillinger’s 1920s showgirl fabulosity to Candy Applebottom’s 2010s tribute to staying connected, we traveled through time on Saturday, April 22 and never looked back. Thanks to everyone who came out to The Triad and made the voyage so fantastic.

1920s

Dandy Dillinger kicks us off with an ethereal number reminiscent of a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis.

1930s

Ruby Mechant gives us some 1930s glamour with just a touch of Italian sass.

1940s

Spicy L’amour blows her bugle for the boys “over there.”

1950s

Shimmy LeCoeur shows us the devil in disguise with her tribute to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

1960s

Hellz Kitten asks the age-old question, “will you still love me tomorrow?” with a shocking twist at the end.

1970s

Munroe Lilly loves to love us and takes another little piece of our hearts.

1980s

Luscious Lane revisits the Cold War with a “pop” of color.

1990s

Tutu Toussaint gives us montage of the best ’90s hip-hop.

2000s

Twinky Boots takes the red pill with his tribute to the Matrix.

2010s

And finally, Candy Applebottom lights up our world with her sassy futuristic moves.

Behind the scenes:

Photos: Veronica Toone

 

Relive the Naughty Aughties with Twinky Boots

Relive the Naughty Aughties with Twinky Boots

Twinky Boots at 'Unleashed' in February
Twinky Boots at ‘Unleashed’ in February

Twitter: @twinkyboots
Instagram:
@twinkyboots

The last eighty years have flown by in a blur, have they not? It’s hard to believe we are already in the ’00s. (Did anyone ever come up with a good name for this decade? The aughties? The double goose eggs? Anyone? Bueller?)

In any case, we are super excited to welcome back one of our favorite performers, Bad Apple Boylesque’s Twinky Boots, who will represent the ’00s in Decadent: 100 Years of Burlesque. This voyeuristic voyage from the 1920s to the 2010s will be happening in LESS THAN TWO WEEKS (OMG!).

We’ve spoken to Twinky on a number of occasions, which you can read about here, here and here.

Twinky first dipped his toe into burlesque as a performer with Broadway Bares, an annual charity event to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and we are very proud to share the stage with him again. Come see him take on the 2000s on April 22.

AND! For a limited time, you can buy one ticket and get the second half-off with promo BOGO50. No limit (as long as you buy in twos), so get one for everyone you know!

Party Like It’s 1999: The Cosmopolitan

Party Like It’s 1999: The Cosmopolitan

I was dreaming when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray… Yep, we’re finally partying in the decade that Prince intended. Unfortunately, Prince wasn’t very specific about the menu, so we have to figure out what we’re in the mood for.

We could go The Big Lebowski route and make a White Russian. But yuck, that’s super heavy, and who even does dairy these days.

We could be all growns up like Mike and Trent in Swingers and pour ourselves a scotch on the rocks. (As long as it’s not a blend of course. Any Glen will do). But that doesn’t count as a cocktail.

We could really go down the ’90s rabbit hole and have a Zima, because according to this article, Zima is coming back and wouldn’t it be fun to relive those sweaty Friday nights bopping to the Spin Doctors at the Plaza Grill in Albany, New York? (Short answer: no.) Besides, Zima is – again – not a cocktail and b) we left upstate NY for a reason.

So with that in mind, we nominate the Cosmopolitan to rep the ’90s. Made famous in the latter part of the decade by a certain group of fictional New York City ladies, the Cosmo brings us back to a simpler time, when we didn’t have wait twenty minutes for the bartender to muddle fifteen separate artisanal ingredients to make one drink, but we could still look fancy with our cute pink martini.

Here’s an article detailing the possible origins of the Cosmo, but if you’re in a hurry to get your drink on, see the recipe below.

The Cosmopolitan

Ingredients

1 cup vodka*
1/2 cup triple sec**
1/2 cup cranberry juice
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

*You can also use citrus-flavored vodka.
**You can also use Cointreau

Directions

Pour all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and pour through a strainer into four martini glasses. (Or if you’re having a particularly bad day, just drink it directly out of the shaker.)

Et voila! You’re ready to kick back your Manolos with your besties and contemplate life and love in the city that never sleeps.

(And since you’re hanging out with your girls anyway, why not spend your evening at The Triad with us on 4/22? Relive your glory days, whether they took place in ’80s, ’90s, ’00s or today; see a fabulous show and help raise money for a fantastic organization.)

BUY TICKETS

 

Tutu Sexy for the ’90s

Tutu Sexy for the ’90s


Bio: Tutu Toussaint
Web: Brown Cocaine Burlesque
Twitter: @BrownCocaineCo
Instagram: tututoussaint

Ladies and gentleman, we have made it to the shiny ’90s! Bill Clinton is in the White House, the Spice Girls are on the airwaves and Ross and Rachel are on a break. Representing this golden era is the “Royal Rebel” with a cause, Tutu Toussaint.

More about Tutu:

From the shores of West Afrika via New York City, Tutu is a warrior of seduction, and royal descendant of King Tutu himself. She was inducted into the burlesque tradition through the auspices of Brown Girls Burlesque in 2013, and is quickly making her mark in the Burly-Q community.

She is a resident and founding member of Perle Noire’s “House of Noire” who is recognized for her southern jazz, sass and explosive style.

Tutu is the proprietress of Brown Cocaine Burlesque, a burlesque instruction company and southern burlesque revue and the racial/ social equality and wellness initiative “Burlesque Cares”.

Won’t you join us on April 22 to meet The Brown Cocaine of Burlesque? Time is running out, but tickets are still on sale! You can buy them HERE.

AND! For a limited time, you can buy one and get the second half-off with promo BOGO50. No limit (as long as you buy in twos), so buy one for all your ’90s-lovin’ friends. See you on the 22nd!

Party Like It’s 1989: The Alabama Slammer

Party Like It’s 1989: The Alabama Slammer

The ’80s was the decade of excess and neon and this did not stop with its cocktails. Why make a drink with one type of liquor when you could make one with ALL the liquors? (Long Island Iced Tea, I’m looking at you.) And who wants boring old vodka or gin when you could have Blue Curaçao or Midori?

Some of us were in high school in the ’80s and we would drink whatever we could get our hands on. Wine coolers. Root beer Schnapps. Seagram’s 7 from our parents’ liquor cabinet smuggled out of the house a saline solution bottle… how else are you going to make it through a football game when your team is 0-7?

Once we got to college, Friday night found us pre-gaming in our dorm with a case of Old Milwaukee before the SAE party, where we’d swallow shot after shot of Malibu, or god help us, Southern Comfort. One of us, to this day, still cannot be in the same room as Southern Comfort. So in honor of our misspent youth, let’s make an Alabama Slammer.

Invented, so the story goes, at the University of Alabama in the mid-’70s, the Slammer is (allegedly?) the signature drink of the Crimson Tide Football team. Roll tide!

Alabama Slammer

Photo: Liquor.com

Ingredients

1 oz Southern Comfort
1 oz Sloe gin
1 oz Amaretto
2 oz Orange juice

Directions

Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with an orange wheel and a cherry. Or, you know, make a pitcher and drink the whole thing and repeat until you vomit and remain haunted by the smell of SoCo 30 years later.

 

 

Fashion Flashback Friday: The 1980s

Fashion Flashback Friday: The 1980s

When you think of ’80s fashion, you probably think big, bright and bold. There was no one-size-fits-all when it came to style, although most of the clothing seems to have been one size: large. You could be preppy, yuppie, punk, hip-hop – possibly all within one outfit.

Let’s explore some of the trends that made the ’80s the ’80s.

Power Suits

Although the phrase “power suit” conjures images of douche-bros with slicked back hair (oh who are we kidding, we totally have a crush on Gordon Gekko), the power suit was also the uniform of the ’80s working woman, from Diane Keaton to Melanie Griffith (and of course actual non-fictional people).

Get me the head of Darryl Hannah

Made popular by designer Giorgio Armani, the power suit – for both men and women – featured broad shoulders and wide lapels. For men, a crisp shirt with banker stripes, suspenders and a classic silk tie completed the look. Think Gekko of course, but also Judd Nelson in St. Elmo’s Fire or Richard Gere in American Gigolo.

Judd Nelson in St. Elmo’s Fire
Richard Gere: just an American Gigolo

Women’s power suits were apparently aimed making women as sexless as possible, with giant shoulder pads and below-the-knee skirts. Add a high-necked blouse and “pussy bow” and you’re totally ready to pass yourself off as an executive and steal Harrison Ford.

Babies also make great accessories. (Diane Keaton in Baby Boom)
Working Girl Melanie Griffith before the tragic plastic surgery

Athletic Wear

“Athleisure” was a buzzword in 2016, but this trend began in the early ’80s. Track suits, made from polyester and rayon as well as velour made their way off the fields and into the mainstream.

They were also popular among swingers.

The aerobics craze, coupled with the popularity of movies like Fame and Flashdance,  made legwarmers a thing, and these colorful tubes – ideally the same color as your Forenza sweater – could be found on young women from Boston to the Bay Area.

Thanks Jane Fonda

Preppy 

Lisa Birnbach’s 1980 book The Preppy Handbook was intended to skewer the upper middle class, but instead ended up inspiring a trend.

Preppy fashion took its cues from New England prep-schools – think khakis, oxford shirts and sport coats (or blazers for women). Leisure wear included brightly colored pants with little designs and polo shirts. A popped collar was de rigueur.

Michael Bowen and Deborah Foreman show off their Valley Girl Prep

Add some pearl earrings and a little alligator (or polo player) on your breast and you’re all ready to party at Dorrian’s Red Hand.

Clothing was conservatively tailored, but came in bright colors, like pink and Kelly green. Tying a sweater around your neck was not unheard of, and if you happened to be wearing a sweater around your neck while appearing in a high school movie of the period, chances are, you’re the bad guy.

Classic ’80s villains

Punk

Punk traces its beginnings to England in the ’70s, where it was seen as “an intentional rebuttal of the perceived excess and pretension found in mainstream music.” Shorter, unkempt hair and dirty, torn t-shirts paired with jeans and a leather jacket replaced the slick, flashy styles of the disco era.

By the ’80s, Punk music had evolved in both the U.S. and UK and so did its fashion. T-shirts with political slogans and customized leather jackets or denim vests became popular.

Anarchy!

Hair was spiked, sculpted into a mohawk or cut really short.

London Punks
This dude is not fucking around

Body piercings and tattoos were in and the Doc Marten or combat boot adorned most punk feet.

Docs

Designers like Vivienne Westwood, Anna Sui and Jean-Paul Gaultier began to introduce punk elements into their lines, which brought many of the styles into the mainstream.

Vivienne Westwood (far right) and her punk-inspired designs

Hip-Hop

Hip-hop originated among African-American and Latin youth in NYC, L.A., Chicago and other inner cities, each of which contributed its own elements.

In the late ’70s, sportswear brands such as Le Coq Sportif, Kangol, Adidas and Pro-Keds attached themselves to the emerging hip hop scene. Its adherents wore brightly colored track suits, leather bomber jackets and brand name sneakers, such as Pro-Keds, Puma, Converse’s Chuck Taylor All-stars, and Adidas Superstars.

Heavy gold jewelry – chains for men and big earrings for women – became hallmarks of hip-hop fashion. Other popular accessories included bucket hats, nameplates and multiple rings. Luxury brand names like Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Gucci and logos adorned custom-designed tracksuits, jackets and mink coats, made popular in the early ’80s by Dapper Dan, a Harlem-based designer.

Run DMC
Grandmaster Flash
Salt’n’Pepa

Toward the end of the decade, styles began to incorporate traditional African influences, such as the fez, Kente cloth (a textile) hats and kufis (another type of hat). Blousey pants were famously worn by artists like MC Hammer.

Please Hammer, don’t hurt me with your enormous pants

And that wraps up our partial overview of the ’80s fashion scene. We hope you enjoyed it. If you want to learn more, check out the sites below.

retrowaste.com
liketotally80s.com
Wikipedia
complex.com
80sfashion.org

And just for fun, here are some pics of Les Femmes in all their gnarly ’80s glory.

Luscious Lane chilling circa 1986. Oversized Oxford, double socks.
Luscious Lane 1987
Luscious Lane prom pic, 1988
Hellz Kitten looking thrilled for the first day of 8th grade, 1983
Hellz Kitten made it through the year. 8th Grade grad, 1984. Sweet mullet!
Hellz Kitten prom, 1987. Her enthusiasm is overwhelming.
Ruby Mechant (right) and sister, 1986
Ruby looking adorbs in her Popeye shirt, 1983
Ruby Mechant in 1982 – already naked!

Crazy about the ’80s? Come see Decadent: 100 Years of Burlesque at The Triad on April 22.  TICKETS

**SPECIAL LIMITED TIME OFFER** Buy one ticket, get the second at half price with promo code BOGO50 until 4/1! BUY 

Throwback Thursday: Burlesque (not really) of the 1980s

Throwback Thursday: Burlesque (not really) of the 1980s

Burlesque of the ’80s? There was no burlesque in the ’80s. There were strip clubs and Porky’s, but no burlesque. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t beautiful, iconic women who would inspire our modern generation of burlesque performers.

Here are some of them.

Click on any pic for more info.

Love is a battlefield, and Pat Benatar was its fiercest warrior.
What says “’80s excess” more than Joan Collins as Dynasty’s Alexis Colby? One look from her and you want throw a drink on yourself.
Oh, poor tragic Whitney Houston. Didn’t we almost have it all?
This controversial 1981 Calvin Klein ad featured a 15-year-old Brooke Shields, who declared that “nothing” came between her and her Calvins.
Gypsies, tramps and thieves…might be hiding in that hair. The ever -fabulous Cher gives us some late ’80s realness. If only we could turn back time.

And then there’s Madonna. Maybe the most iconic star of the decade (the millennium?). You can make fun of her acting, her fake British accent or her penchant for collecting African children, but the fact remains, Madonna IS the 1980s. Here are some of her signature ’80s looks.

The look that started it all – the Lucky Star/Desperately Seeking days.
An homage to Marilyn: Material Girl
Papa, don’t preach – I’m going to be a huge star and we can get the F outta Staten Island.

Want more ’80s? Come see Decadent: 100 Years of Burlesque at The Triad on April 22.  TICKETS

**SPECIAL LIMITED TIME OFFER** Buy one ticket, get the second at half price with promo code BOGO50 until 4/1! BUY 

A ‘Luscious’ Trip Down Memory ‘Lane’

A ‘Luscious’ Trip Down Memory ‘Lane’

Instagram: lusciouslanenyc
Facebook
: Luscious Lane NYC
Twitter: @lane_luscious

Ohmigod, it’s like, totally the ’80s already! Brush off your shoulder pads and Rubik’s Cube, crank up your boombox and let’s get to know our ’80s lady: Luscious Lane.

1. What is your favorite thing about the 1980s? 
I’m a child of the ’80s and some habits are hard to break! Everything had to match: your shoes, top, socks, scrunchie… I still catch myself doing this today, well, minus the scrunchies! I still love the music and I can count on ’80s music to turn my mood around if I need it.

2. If you could have drinks/dinner with any person from that era, real or fictional, who would it be and why?
Easy, Jake Ryan from Sixteen Candles. But only if he picks me up in his red Porsche.

Michael Schoeffling as Jake Ryan in Sixteen Candles. Call us, Jake!

3. Is there anyone from today you think embodies the idea of the 1980s?
I still think Madonna embodies the ’80s. She helped shape the decade and so many teenage girls like myself, who wore fishnet tops, black rubber bracelets up their arm and wanted to roll around on gondolas in Venice.

Still got it: ’80s It Girl Madonna

Come experience (or relive) the ’80s with Luscious Lane on April 22 at The Triad. Need tickets? Click here!

**SPECIAL LIMITED TIME OFFER** Buy one ticket, get the second at half price with promo code BOGO50 until 4/1! Totally tubular! BUY

Decadent - 1980s - LusciousLane