Burlesque acts have long been a daring and different type of performance art. From the early days of Vaudeville when Texas Guinan and Gypsy Rose Lee brought the house down with their inventive acts to modern troupes who quite literally have something for everyone, audience members have always known to expect the unexpected when a burlesque show starts.
Today there is no end to the different types of burlesque acts being performed on the stage. Whether you are looking for a show that is as thrilling as it is titillating or if you've always wondered what your favorite movie characters might look like as scantily clad women, you can find just about anything in burlesque.
Circus acts have always had a place on the Vaudeville stage, but typically the clowns and acrobats keep their clothes on when they perform. The dancers at Le Scandal, however, have taken burlesque to new heights - sometimes literally. Home to some of the most erotically daring acts in burlesque, Le Scandal has aerial dancers, contortionists, and a host of sexy circus acts performed alongside comics, jugglers, and even the occasional Broadway performance. Both Emma Stone and Alan Cumming have performed on stage at Le Scandal in their rendition of Cabaret.
If you are looking for something a little bit bigger than a small stage in New York, head to Vegas and take in Cirque Du Soleil's Zumanity, one of the biggest burlesque shows in the nation. With acts that are constantly changing, you might get to see underwater contortionists, an erotic cage performance, tumbling, teasing, whips and chains, or even an exploration of sensuality in a champagne-filled tub. Cirque Du Soleil is famous for pushing the boundaries of the modern circus and this show has pushed them all the way into the bedroom.
If you have cherished childhood memories from Disney or the Muppets, you might not want to read this section. If, on the other hand, you find the idea of a Cookie Monster strip tease arousing, you're intrigued by the thought of Statler and Waldorf with breasts, or you've fantasized about what Snow White and Minnie Mouse would look like in sexy corsets, you might think these burlesque acts are more appealing than appalling.
Embracing the humorous side of burlesque, on stages across the country you can see the Swedish Chef in fishnets or find out exactly what Oscar the Grouch is hiding behind that trash can. Disney fans might even be surprised to learn that wristwatches and sugary treats aren't the only things that come shaped like mouse ears - nipple pasties, one of the staples of burlesque performances, can also come with a Mickey theme.
While this one certainly won't be everyone's cup of tea, it is pretty common for burlesque acts to touch on universal themes. Bringing a bit of humor to the stage through our common childhood memories is a great idea, even if the audience does a double take at the idea of a Big Bird fan dance.
The Boys of Burlesque
If you are reading these and thinking, "Hey, where are all the hot burlesque guys?" you might just want to take a trip to Boston to check out Sirlesque, an all-male revue that bills themselves as Burlesque with Balls. Embracing the burlesque traditions of comedy, music, dance, and eroticism, Sirlesque brings some truly talented men to the stage for your entertainment.
If Boston is too far to go, consider heading to the Excalibur hotel in Las Vegas to see Australia's Thunder From Down Under instead. While they are a little less traditionally burlesque, they are beautiful, shirtless men with an affinity for denim and they haven't had any complaints so far!
While this sounds like something that nobody would ever actually do, biblical burlesque acts have been done a couple of times by troupes in both Canada and the United States. Depicting everything from Joseph with his robe and beard to the tree of knowledge from the book of Genesis, burlesque dancers have taken on the challenge of making the bible both funny and sexy. If you've ever wondered if a tree could dance or if Moses would have made an attractive lady these Biblical burlesque acts hold the answers to all of your questions. One troupe, Storybook Burlesque, has even done burlesque interpretations of the plagues of Egypt and the book of Revelations, leaving no Biblical stone unturned in their quest to combine great literature with the art of burlesque.
Out of This World
Space may be the final frontier, but burlesque has managed to bring some of your favorite sci-fi fantasy realms to the stage where you can find Dr. Spock complete with a pair of exquisite breasts. There is no fandom that hasn't been the subject of an evening's performance, which means everything from Firefly to Star Wars has been turned into a hilariously sexy stage show at some point.
They aren't limiting themselves to Princess Leia and Officer Uhura, either. Performers everywhere seem to have discovered that Jabba the Hutt is the perfect character to use in a traditional balloon strip tease and that nobody seems to need a Wookie-to-English dictionary to enjoy seeing Chewbacca disrobe.
Clearly there is a burlesque show out there for everyone!
Are there any weird and wonderful burlesque shows you'd recommend? Let us know in the comments!