Las Vegas has a long and storied history with burlesque. There are major competitions, shows on the Strip, a burlesque Hall of Fame, a school and frequent performances in local clubs. Some of this is for the tourist trade, as everything on the Strip is, but a lot is by and for the locals, who have become involved with it as performance art and, often, as a means for men and women to explore a different aspect of themselves.
With all that history, and festivals celebrating burlesque in so many other cities around the world, it is only fitting that Las Vegas now has one of its own. The first Las Vegas Burlesque Festival was held October 10-13, 2013. Based on its success, the next is already scheduled for October 9-12, 2014.
The show began on Thursday in a relatively intimate setting at Boomers Bar to a sold-out capacity crowd, but the next two days moved to the more capacious theater of the Plaza Hotel. Where the first day had only (!) 16 acts, the following two days packed in 54 more. Many of the performers, as is fitting, were from Las Vegas, displaying their skills to an audience that, in many cases, had never been to a burlesque show before. Other acts were from farther away; several from California and Arizona, other states in the US, and even places like Switzerland and Sweden. It was a mix of amateurs and professionals, with some “OMG I can't believe they got her to perform!” stars thrown into the mix.
Saturday, the final day of performances, saw 24 acts on stage. They ranged from the traditional boas and tassels dances that the audience had come to see, to acts that were comedy-based, including one (Bambi LeFleur and her assistant Bunny Bedford) that included sword swallowing and magic. Of special note was the beautiful ballet of classically trained Lola Demure.
One of the local acts was composed of two sisters, Shimmie G'alore and Taboo La Roux, whose performance started off as comedy before it transitioned to the “hey, would you look at how pretty they are” part. Where most of the acts relied on elaborate costumes, Fred Rocker and his supporting duo of Buttercup Delight and Kitschy Koo started in workout gear, and based the routine on a health club.
Miss Theresa, from Columbus, OH, had the most unusual costume with a hoop skirt made of lights (see pictures in the slide show), while Lily Liqueur from Norfolk, VA performed in a costume based on the legend of Leda and the swan.
But the headliners were saved for the last. Two popular stars from Las Vegas Strip shows joined the festival: Melody Sweets from the hit show Absinthe, and Kalani Kokonuts, who is also joining the Absinthe cast after a series of other high profile shows she has been featured in.