Milwaukee braces itself for month of burlesque dancers, steampunks, high-flying luchadors
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When the “neo-burlesque” revival began to gain traction in the early ’00s, it was flashy and exciting, something that celebrated an old, erotic art but added a nose ring to it. Fans still cite the creativity in costumes and choreography as well as the cheeky sexiness as reasons the art of the tease lives on. But some critical voices (a famous article by Dan Savage, for example) say the old song and dance is starting to show its age and has been done to death. Now, three upcoming Milwaukee burlesque performances will give you a chance to make that determination for yourself.
Minneapolis burlesque and fire performer Sweet LillyBee kicks off her 10-city Dawg Days Tour at Quarters Rock ’N’ Roll Palace on Tuesday, Aug. 14. She’ll be performing burlesque numbers along with one of Milwaukee’s own troupes, the Brew City Bombshells, as well as Madison’s Peach Pies Caburlesque. Sweet LillyBee’s bio says that she “combines the Old Hollywood glamour with a punk-rock aesthetic” and is “part sweetheart, part ice queen,” while a fellow burlesque dancer says she “has the thighs that set the whole world on fire!”
The Dainty Rogues, a new collective of “burlesque dancers, fire eaters, singers, comedians, and drag kings” are hosting their première show at the Miramar Theater on Saturday, Aug. 25. The show is titled “The Clockwork Dolls,” and is steampunk-themed—1884 New Orleans-bordello-steampunk-themed, to be more specific. The bordello part might explain some of the cast’s names, like “Pussy F’Daze.”
“With the corsets and tons of accessories it wasn’t a huge leap to combine steampunk with burlesque,” says Polly Amour, a burlesque dancer who helped conceive the show’s theme. She adds that although the fantasy-based alternate history of steampunk gave the group a lot of leeway, there were occasional challenges. “If my character wears goggles, it fits with the theme. But why would an 1884 prostitute need welding goggles?”
Amour also says that the audience is encouraged to attend in “your steamy best.”
Perennial favorite Mondo Lucha returns to Turner Hall Ballroom for its fourth year and 10th show on Saturday, Sept. 8 for another round of music, mat-slamming luchador wrestling, and gyrating burlesque performance.
“This may be the best burlesque performance lineup we’ve ever had,” says Andy Gorzalski, one of the show organizers. “Returning, as she has every show, is our ‘Miss Mondo Lucha,’ Lola Van Ella. Also appearing are Foxy La Feelion, Milwaukee’s own Francesca Alfresca, and the show-stopping Jeez Loueez.”
Gorzalski also says to expect a performance by local sextet The Fatty Acids and luchador crowd favorites like El Chivas Blanco, a.k.a. the dude in the goat mask.
“There are going to be many surprises and twists and turns this year,” says Gorzalski. “We look at every show like it is our last one ever, and this is no different.”