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Burlesque 101: What's Behind the Art of Tease


    We at GetLusty are very into lots of sexy things. The bawdy, alcohol-fueled, steaming hot, stripped down, wild world of Burlesque is no exception. However, not everyone knows what Burlesque is or where it came from so we decided to do a little educational research. Our resident GetLusty Burlesque and Performance Artist Ms. Cherries Jubalie takes a look at watching women and men put on a show for us and tantalize us with a sexy striptease.

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    Brief History of Burlesque

    Originally the term Burlesque was designed to mean a satirical theatric production that made the audience laugh at contemporary issues.  Often it had a musical component, but was not just women or men taking off our clothes.  From the mid 1800's Burlesque halls had comedians, animal acts, and sexy ladies who entertained audiences.  Yes there were girls, but the current use of the word to mean a variety act that provides a sexy strip tease a la Gypsy Rose Lee is a modern interpretation.

    In the early 1900's Burlesque started in clubs in the United States with the Minsky Brothers and the ladies were quick witted and humorous as well as sexy.  Performers such as Mae West were known more for their comedic quotations than for taking off their clothes.  By the 1930's when Burlesque began to be more about the striptease, but quick one-liners and funny acts were still a part of the show.  There was a public outcry about how obscene Burlesque performers were and many of the original clubs were closed.

    Struggling into the 1950's Burlesque was synonymous with a striptease act and lost some of its integral humor.  But was now being categorized by media as an exotic art.  Movies like Teaserama featured top Burlesque performers such as Tempest Storm (who by the way is STILL performing in her 80's), Bettie Page, Lili St Cyr, and Blaze Starr.  These ladies among many others twirled their tassels to entice and tease audiences well into the 1970's.  Sally Rand, famous for Fan Dancing, was arrested in 1946 on obscenity charges for appearing to be nude at the Savoy in San Francisco.  The judge agreed to let her go with the caveat that she not get arrested again until trial--she was arrested again during the trial for her performance even though she was wearing long underwear with the word "Censored" written across the costume.  The judge cleared her of all charges eventually.

    Modern Burlesque

    Following the long legs and tassels of our beautiful Burlesque beginnings, Neo [New] Burlesque performers take the stage now to bedazzle, entice, and arouse audiences with a variety of acts all over the world.  These performers include elaborate costumes like their historical counterparts, include cabaret acts and props along with their striptease.  This can range from a classic tease with fans, tassels and twirling--to working with fire, grinders, and in my case combining sideshow variety acts like beds of nails and walking on broken glass to entertain their audiences.

    Burlesque itself is not just about stripping down to bare all, but is about capturing the audience's attention with the tease of taking off the clothes.  Performers entertain the audience and introduce them to something sexy in various ways.  Many areas like my home town of Chicago have a good variety of individual acts or troupes of performers who put on a good show.  The art of Burlesque has become popular again and even Hollywood is putting out movies like Burlesque with Cher and Christina Aguilera staring in the film.  Unfortunately it didn't have any real Burlesque stars performing like the films of the 50's and 60's, but was entertaining and showed the resurgence of interest in the Art of the Tease.

    One of the top celebrity performers today is Dita von Teese, known for quality acts such as stripping in a giant martini glass, has a budget for her performances that is quite substantial for the spectacle that entertains her audiences.  Most Burlesque performers don't have that luxury, but the acts do empower the ladies and gents to explore their sexuality.  A new term "boylesque" was coined to cover male performers and their striptease acts which were not a staple of historical Burlesque.  Modern Burlesque performers come in all sizes, shapes, and talents.

    Be a Part of the Action

    Taking your date to a Burlesque show is a fun, sexy night that could lead to some more intimate activities after.  Like most "tease" a performance could be the foreplay you need to get the night going, or just the thing to stir up a little variety in your sex life that isn't too overwhelming.  Most localities have public performances and may also offer workshops or classes on how to do a classic tease for your partner.  Do a web-based search for Burlesque in your area for more resources, or schedules of performances.

    Ms. CherriesJubalie is a unique Burlesque performance artist and active member of the Chicago Leather Community.  She is a sex-positive educator, writer, and speaker traveling the country to present at local and national lifestyle events, art shows, and charity balls.  A sex-positive enigma, she has appeared on NBC's America's Got Talent where censors determined her "ass is too dangerous for Prime Time TV."  She has appeared in independent films such as Dracula Orgy of the Damned and the soon to be released Dark Realm.  She was also a featured performer on Kink.com's HogTied.  An internationally known Shibari Rope Artist and fetish model, you can see her in Germany's Bondage Magazine and on the cover of books like Sacred Kink.  To get in touch with her, contact cherry@getlusty.com. Don't forget to follow Cherries on Twitter.
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