Yes, you read that correctly. I’m not talking saving damsels in distress, battling flaming dragons or defeating treacherous villains (although don’t get me wrong; those are all valid act scenarios in themselves). I’m talking about the mystery, the adventures and the chance to live out your craziest dreams and bring your imagination to life. Much like Wonderwoman or Buffy, burlesque performers revel in unleashing their alter-egos upon the world, bringing a touch of magic and wonder to the drudgery of everyday life.
“So how exactly,” I hear you ask, “is being a burlesque performer akin to being a superhero?”
There are a number of parallels…
The Amazing Outfits & Props
When you picture one of the iconic superheroes, you immediately imagine them in their signature outfit: Batman in his black cape, driving the Batmobile, or Spiderman in his glorious red and blue spandex, whizzing from rooftop to rooftop via his magical web.
It’s the same for burlesque performers; Dita’s name instantly brings images of her tiny, corseted waist and her splashing elegantly in her giant martini glass. Immodesty Blaize’s name conjures images of her giant rocking horse and her stunning crimson costume and opulently plumed hat which completes the act. So, much as in the world of superheroes, in burlesque we can easily identify other performers by their signature looks, style, costume etc.
You have a Secret Identity
You may work 9-5 behind a desk, but when night falls, you don your secret identity and unleash your inner self, transforming into your alter-ego with such ease and expertise that anyone who knows you from the day job would be hard-pushed to recognise your glamorous persona. Not only does burlesque give performers the chance to push boundaries, try out new ideas and stretch their own comfort zones, it lets performers be themselves in a way that many ‘normal’ jobs restrict. Much like a superhero; after all, Buffy juggled her studies / a crappy day job / daily saving the world from vampires and other nasties and burly performers do much the same thing (sort of).
You have Super Powers
Ok, so I’m not talking about magic powers of flight, teleportation or any suchlike, but all burlesque performers utilise their own ‘magic’ powers. Be it through illusion, quick reveals too smooth and fast to be seen, or the power to tassel twirl in a gazillion different ways, we use our tricks of the trade to hypnotise, energise, titillate and amuse our audiences. In a similar way, your favourite superhero employs their own secret skills and talents in their everyday superhero lives whilst carrying out their important work.
Burlesque-life is full of important missions. The main one for all is the mission to put on a good show. To dazzle, entertain and leave their audience feeling like they’ve had a night like no other. However, these primary missions are supported by hundreds of mini-missions, which make the final one possible. These include missions to find the perfect pair of shoes or the right piece of music for a new act, and missions to try and match that new feather colour to a rhinestone for the accompanying costume. Some missions can appear more mundane, for example the plain old admin missions, just getting booked in the first place, but it’s all part of getting to the final mission and putting on a belter of a show.
So, if you weren’t convinced already, perhaps you are now: Burlesque is, without a doubt, one of the most exciting, varied and wonderful jobs in the world and just like all of our favourite superheroes, burlesque performers are working tirelessly every day, to bring a touch of magic to their audiences around the world (but with a bit more boobs and a bit less bad guys).