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Burlesque vs. # burlesque

By now I’m sure you’ve heard about the new movie Burlesque, which features no actual burlesque. It’s got the BQ community up in a tizzy; and understandably so – some of us have been working in this genre for a decade or longer, so when you claim to make a film about our artform but the final product doesn’t actually showcase said artform, well, we’re going to be a little annoyed. Imagine making a film called Breakdancers that focuses exclusively on clogging, and you’ll get an idea about how some of us feel.

However, the always smart and savvy Penny Starr Jr. has devised an excellent publicity stunt that will channel the Burlesque hype back to us: a hashtag bomb!

For those of you who are on Twitter: from now up until the movie premiere on Nov 24th, post about your involvement within the community, and use the hashtag #burlesque. Examples:

I am [your name] and I’m a #burlesque producer in [your city]

I can’t wait to perform at the #burlesque show at [venue] in [city] tonight!

I love going to #burlesque shows, and my favorite one is [name of show]!

And so forth. #burlesque will most likely become a trending topic when the film opens, and reclaiming the #burlesque hashtag allows us to channel all of the movie hype and direct it back to us: we, the Swarovski-encrusted people…

As for the movie itself: don’t get too pissed about it. Mildly disgruntled for sure, but don’t get your fringey panties in a bunch over it, and I’ll tell you why.

We have been down this road MANY times before, from Moulin Rouge to the Suicide Girls Burlesque Tour to The Pussycat Dolls, and the burlesque community as a whole has survived unscathed – and will continue to do so. This is not going to water down our scene, or pose a serious threat to us. If a couple of girls see this and are inspired to start their own Cabaret-style burlesque troupe – let them go for it. They will either succeed or fail, and they will most likely have little impact on the established burlesque shows that have been barreling along for years now.

And look on the bright side: if we all get a few extra folks at our next show due to interest from this turkey, then that’s more money in our pockets, and that’s a win.

Do I wish they had called it something else? Yes.

Do I wish this mainstream flick had tried to create an accurate depiction of the current burlesque scene? No, because in order for it to sell in Hollywood, it would have omitted so much of what we cherish and hold dear about this community.

If you want accuracy, watch one of the many lovely independent documentaries about burlesque that are floating around, like A Wink and a Smile and Behind the Burly-Q.

If you want to look at eye-candy, fantasy costuming, and marvel at how Cher’s face no longer moves, go see Burlesque.

Bitching about this movie on the Internet won’t make it go away – so why not capitalize on it and make it work for us?

Just please, do me one small favor: stop comparing this to Showgirls, which is one of the finest pieces of cinematic trash ever produced, a true masterpiece of camp. I know Showgirls, my friend, and this is no Showgirls.

As Penny Starr Jr. pointed out in her review of the film, this is merely an imitation of far better films that have come before it, like Cabaret and All That Jazz. And an excuse to market glitter nail polish and shitty Leg Avenue costumes.

This is no Versace, it’s just a cheap Versace knock-off.

Excuse me.


–Sparkly Devil,  Blood, Sweat & Glitter, 11.18.10

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