It’s the final week of The ABC Guide to Burlesque and we’re wrapping up our blog series with some of the more unusual burlesque sub-genres and a piece on one of the biggest crossover genres: circus and burlesque.
Nerdesque / Geeklesque
Nerdesque, also known as Geeklesque, refers to burlesque performers and shows inspired by sci-fi, comic books, super heroes and cult movies. Routines inspired by the likes of Star Wars, characters like Catwoman, Wonder Woman and many more are taking to the burlesque stage at specialist themed nights, such as Nerdesque Burlesque in Herefordshire.
Manchester-based performer Ginger La Rouge‘s Sonic the Hedgehog act is a perfect example of this kind of burlesque.
Anyone who has read Dita’s first book ‘The Art of the Tease’ will know that burlesque and fetish are closely interlinked, and how could they not be? Fetish burlesque as a sub-genre, could arguably be traced back to Bettie Page and her ‘naughty’ burlesque films with the infamous Irving Klaw. Featuring stocking-clad ladies, spanking and rope bondage, they were considered quite shocking back in the day.
In the modern day, fetish burlesque continues to be popular, with the likes of Edinburgh-based performer Lottie Kixx. Lottie’s Pony Act sees her attired in a mask, wielding whips and a concealed phallus under her dress… It might sound shocking, but there is a tongue-in-cheekiness to the routine which makes it a very adaptable piece, which can be honed for different types of audience.
Also referred to as ‘grotesque burlesque’, it is characterised by the use of fake blood and gore, to create routines that are as messy as they are visually shocking! Inspired by horror movies, gorelesque could be considered a form of ‘alternative burlesque’ (as discussed in Part 3 of our Guide to Burlesque).
Circus & Burlesque
The last section is more of a cross-over between another skillset and the art of burlesque, than a sub-genre as such, but it is widely popular worldwide and definitely worthy of mention. Drumroll please… for the Circus-Burlesque crossover! Now this is a very broad spectrum, covering all kinds of circus skills incorporated into burlesque acts; from sideshow-style bed of nails, to whips, to aerial and fire, performers are increasingly blurring the boundaries between various kinds of performance.
Fire performance in burlesque can be attributed to burlesque legend Satan’s Angel. Also known as the ‘Queen of the Fire Tassels’ and ‘The Devil’s Own Mistress’, she made a name for herself on the 1960s burlesque circuit in San Francisco, renowned for her daredevil nipple tassel fire twirling. Since then she has made an extremely successful career for herself, continuing to perform and teach today. In 2012 her story became a part of cinema history with the release of the movie Satan’s Angel: Queen of the Fire Tassels.
Another skill to make the crossover from the big top to the burlesque stage is aerial: silks, static, hoop trapeze have all been incorporated by burlesque performers into their routines. Midnite Martini – ‘The Mile High Flying Tease’ uses aerial arts blended with striptease to create astonishing, epic and beautiful routines, which have seen her invited to appear at the Burlesque Hall of Fame every year since 2010.
Circus skills and burlesque continue to merge in new and exciting ways, allowing for the creation of incredible performances that take the art of the ecdysiast to a whole new level…
And that brings us to the end of The ABC Guide to Burlesque. We hope you’ve enjoyed our glitter-infused, high-flying journey through the sub-genres of burlesque. Throughout this blog series we’ve covered mainstream, neo, cheesecake, bump n’ grind, boylesque, sing & fling, alternative, polesque, nerdesque, fetish, gorelesque and circus burlesque… phew! If you have any ideas for other types of burlesque you’d like to see included, please leave a comment below, we love to hear your suggestions and ideas.
If you’ve missed any of the blogs in this series, you can start from Part 1 by clicking here.