Thanks to everyone who came out Saturday, February 18 for Unleashed: Pilots, Puppies and Pasties! We had a great debut at the Metropolitan Room and raised over $300 for Pilots to the Rescue! (Exact amount to be posted soon.) In case you missed it, here are some photos.
Hi friends! It’s Roaring Twenties week at LFF, so let’s learn a little about what burlesque was like in the Jazz Age.
Well, actually, we need to start a little further back.
Up until the 1920s, burlesque was more about comedy and satire than striptease, owing some of its roots to vaudeville and minstrel shows.
In 1868, Lydia Thompson who was to become known as the “First Lady of Burlesque,” brought her troupe the British Blondes to America. They didn’t strip, but showed off their legs in tights, which was pretty racy for those uptight Victorians.
By about 1905, there was a system in place in which burlesque performers traveled the country in geographically based “wheels,” or circuits, putting on vaudeville-style variety shows that included singers, dancers and comedians. At the time, comedy was the main attraction and some really famous names – like Jackie Gleason, Milton Berle, Bob Hope – owe their beginnings to burlesque.
In the 1920s, movies began to steal audiences, so enterprising theater owners, like NYC’s Minsky Brothers, began introducing striptease to get butts in seats. The striptease is said to harken back to a performance by “Little Egypt” who did the “hoochie-coochie” at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. The Minsky Brothers are generally credited with bringing striptease “out of the backrooms and into the theaters.” Under their tutelage and that of Florenz Ziegfield and his elaborate Paris-inspired Follies, the 1920s and ’30s became known as the golden age of burlesque.
Here are some stars of the era:
In the 1920s, American Josephine Baker took Paris by storm as part of the legendary Folies Bergère reviews and became a symbol of the Jazz Age after appearing in a girdle of bananas. Baker was “celebrated by all of the great artists and intellectuals of the era, with various circles dubbing her the ‘Black Pearl,’ the ‘Bronze Venus,’ as well as the ‘Creole Goddess.'” She fought for the French Resistance during WWII and later became a civil rights activist, even speaking at the March on Washington with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1963.
Fanny Brice, made famous by Barbra Streisand in the 1963 Broadway musical Funny Girl, dropped out of school in 1908 to join a burlesque review. In 1910, she joined the Ziegfield Follies for the first time, performing for two years. She rejoined it in 1921 and danced with them through the 1930s. From the 1930s until her 1951 death, Brice performed on radio as a bratty toddler named Snooks in the eponymous “Baby Snook Show,” which sounds like something that should make us grateful we have Netflix.
Carrie Finnell claims to have invented the nipple tassel, which survives to this day as a burlesque necessity (burlesque-ity?). Using just her magnificent mammaries, Finnell could supposedly swing not just tassels, but bells and lights as well. Whutt??
According to burlexe.com, she also:
As you can see, the history of burlesque is complex and fascinating and worth looking into much deeper than we can here. If you want to learn more, come back next week when we examine burlesque of the ’30s and check out these sources below:
(And if you really like history, stay tuned for ticket info for our fabulous April 22 show, Decadent: 100 Years of Burlesque.)
Introducing the ravishing Ravenessa!
According to her bio, “Ravenessa is a Texas girl gone Brooklyn. She studied dance and comedy at The Ailey School and the Upright Citizens Brigade. Ravenessa loves creating comedic burlesque pieces and is thrilled to be making her Unleashed debut!”
We are thrilled to have her too!
Ravenessa is just ONE of the badass performers guaranteed to thrill and delight you on Sat, so hurry up and buy those tickets before they sell out!
With a name like Hellz Kitten, is there any doubt this LFF co-founder and producer is an animal lover?
Hellz is owned by Snoop, a 14-year-old black cat with a well-developed diva muscle. Hellz took Snoop in when the feisty feline’s first family couldn’t keep her, all the way back in 2002, and the two have been happily sharing glitter ever since.
Snoop spends her days sleeping in the sunshine, stalking birds on the fire escape and posting pics to her Instagram account, hamilsnoop. Snoop is tolerant of the fact her mom is producing a show to benefit rescue dogs, but just barely. Then again, Snoop is kind of a bitch, so who cares what she thinks.
Come to Unleashed: Pilots, Puppies and Pasties at the Met Room on February 18 and see for yourself what a fantastic night it’s going to be – all to benefit Pilots to the Rescue. Burlesque, boylesque, magic, sideshow and singing – it’ll be a night even cat-lovers can get behind.
We are thrilled to welcome international burlesque sensation Apathy Angel to the Met Room on February 18! This “dark delight of burlesque” has wowed audiences across the U.S., Europe, Canada and New Zealand with her sinuous moves and lithe sensuality.
She joins an incredible lineup of dancers, singers and entertainers for Unleashed: Pilots, Puppies and Pasties, a red-hot vaudeville-inspired variety show to benefit Pilots to the Rescue. This incredible organization flies around the country to save animals from euthanasia. OMG amazing, right?! We hope you can join us next Saturday to support them.
We are excited to welcome Tina Tassels back as our host for Unleashed: Pilots, Puppies and Pasties. Tina bills herself as a “Tassel Twirler, Plus Size Pinup, Producer, Emcee, Spreader of Self-Love,” and we couldn’t be more excited to have her happy, shiny energy light up the Met Room stage on Feb. 18.
Tina does not have a puppy, but says if she ever gets one, it will be a rescue, because “they are the most interesting choice.” We agree completely! Which is why proceeds for this show will benefit Pilots to the Rescue, an organization that saves animals from euthanasia by rescuing them from kill-shelters and delivering them to loving homes that give them a second chance. It promises to be a great night, so hurry and get your tickets!
Somewhere in the realm between burlesque and drag you will find Chardonnay LaTease, the Queen of Wine, who joins us Feb. 18 all the way from Albany, NY. This impressive impresario hosts Burlesque on the Rocks, a monthly show at Capital District nightspot Rocks, and is also an actor and producer. Chardonnay has rescue pup named Louie, and this is his story:
My Louie was rescued from a home that abused and neglected him. He became part of my life…we spend the days lazy in the park or cuddled up on the bed. Dogs are meant to be loved and they give love back. He is not the most perfect or normal dog there is, but he is mine. After his years before me, I make sure he does not go without and I give him lots of food and hugs.
Clearly, Louie is #oneluckypup!
We hope you can join us on Feb 18 at the Met Room to support Pilots to the Rescue, an org that goes far and wide to bring luck and love to puppies in shelters across the U.S. who are in danger of being euthanized. A great show for a great cause! Click here for more info.
If you’re tired of the same old “dinner and a movie” date night, we’d like you to meet Lazlo and Lady Riggy, also known as Schadenfreude Circus. These two self-described “normal people with abnormal jobs” bring old-school circus sideshow to the masses. Intrigued? In their own words,
“we live and travel the country, performing at fairs, nightclubs and other special events, setting up and tearing down in the blink of an eye. With a flash of glitter and the spark of a lighter, you might not know we were even there if not for the sinking feeling of ‘Is that even humanly possible?’ etched into your mind.
When not performing as The Schadenfreude Circus, we can be found playing house with Wallenda and Gonzo the ball pythons, Boa Fett the St. Lucia boa constrictor and Poobah the miniature schnauzer who is an obedience school dropout but excellent at three card monte.”
We are overjoyed to have them join us for Unleashed: Pilots, Puppies and Pasties at the Met Room on Feb. 18. They promise to spice up an already sizzling evening with some marvelous feats guaranteed to delight you. We hope you can join us, because proceeds from this show will benefit Pilots to the Rescue, an org that helps save animals from euthanasia.
LFF Co-founder and producer Ruby Mechant is passionate about many things, but rescue animals in particular. Here are some of her “babies” and how they came to be part of her sparkly universe.
In her own words:
My family became pit bull aficionados by mistake. We really didn’t know we were picking up at the shelter Cleo, our very first pit. She lived a very long and happy life chasing cats and squirrels in Lake Como.
Asia was a rescue too. Her previous family left her at the shelter at the age of two because they were having a baby and they said she was “too much to handle.” Well, if you don’t know how to train a dog even the tiniest chihuahua can become too much.
As to the cat side, here in NYC you can say that Bailey aka ‘Queen B’ (not because of Beyonce, but because the little snitch knows she is beautiful), will take possession of my apartment and begin her residency on Feb 14th. She was abandoned by her previous family because they moved to a building that does not allow pets – so sure just get rid of your cat. Because of that she is a tad temperamental and she has to be the only cat in the house. It’s gonna be a slow journey with her but it’s not the first time that the rescue I volunteer has given me divas. I’m sure she will get used to feather boas and sparkly costumes soon!
It’s always a pleasure to share the stage with Twinky Boots, one of the super hot performers from NYC’s Bad Apple Boylesque. A self-described “love child of Broadway producer/choreographer Jerry Mitchell and Bad Apple Boylesque co-founders Apollo Dioni and Don Chipotle,” Twinky got his first taste of burlesque as a performer with Broadway Bares, an annual charity event to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.