The modern world of burlesque is changing fast and furious, thanks in no small part to the amazing and diverse array of performers who have become involved and brought their own style and creativity to the genre. This includes women of all ages, ethnicities, performance backgrounds, shapes, and sizes. In addition, the burlesque community is seeing a flood of male performers who are changing the nature of what a burlesque show can be.
Just as the definition of burlesque differs depending on who you ask, even more difficult to pin down is a definition of boylesque. Performers take issue with the misperception that they are Chippendales, drag queens, or male strippers, and are certainly aware of their unique place in a field that is dominated by women. However, when one harkens back to the early days of American burlesque and its connection to Vaudeville, variety is a key ingredient of what makes a show successful. The most popular shows know how to mix it up, and the joy that boylesque numbers bring to any burlesque event is undeniable. To quote Jonny Porkpie, the ‘burlesque mayor of New York City,’ “It’s not just that burlesque is female-driven, it’s that it’s performer-driven – the performers themselves not only conceive, choreograph, costume their own acts, but also produce the shows, stripping alongside the people they hire. This is what makes burlesque such a vibrant, joyous, immediate, and fearless art form.”
Today, the exploding nature of burlesque in general also applies to boylesque. The popularity of groups such as the Stage Door Johnnies (awarded World’s Best Burlesque Group 2011), and touring performers who bring boylesque to new audiences, continues to grow. While as of yet, Indianapolis doesn’t have its own resident boylesque troupe, such performances are not new to our stage. This summer offers several exciting opportunities to see some of the nation’s top boylesque performers as they pass through town. Angel Burlesque will host Ray Gunn and Bazuka Joe of Chicago’s Stage Door Johnnies and Jiggles McGee (former Indianapolis resident) of the St. Louis Randy Dandies to join them for “Hot Summer Nights: The Boys are Back in Town” on June 29 at the Athenaeum. Tickets will be available for those 18 and older at angelburlesque.com for $20. In addition, Bazuka Joe and Ray Gunn will each present a 90-minute workshop for aspiring performers on Saturday, June 30. Sign-up for Bazuka Joe’s “Boylesque: For Men Only” and Ray Gunn’s “The Business of Boylesque” at angelburleque.com.
Stages throughout Indianapolis will be bustling this summer with more burlesque than one city can handle, but yours truly wanted to direct attention to some particularly unique performers headed our way. Watch as Indy rolls out the red carpet for some hot boylesque performers who have added Indianapolis to their busy travel schedules. Don’t miss this great opportunity to see some of the best burlesque (and boylesque) has to offer.