By Rosemary McClure ‘13
When was the last time you attended a show that opened with the Master of Ceremonies asking the audience, “Who’s gonna masturbate later?” If you answered “last weekend,” that probably means you were one of the lucky few who obtained a ticket to the semiannual “Queer Burlesque Reverie” on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.
The show’s performers used a combination of improv, dance, spoken word, and singing to explore themes such as BDSM, gender identity, gender expression, pleasure, body hair, love, and imagination. Many pieces, including “The Orgasm Orchestra” and a nipple tassel demonstration, invited members of the audience to participate.
In America, burlesque refers to a type of camp variety show that prominently features stripteases and suggestive comedy.
While stripping has been dismissed by some feminists who insist that one cannot eliminate gender inequality by “owning” or appropriating the power of objectification, burlesque has generally been embraced as a subversive celebration of marginalized representations of sexuality and beauty. Likewise, while your average “strip joints” remain predominantly male spaces, women in burlesque have been able to take control over the productions.
Lucy Blumber (SC ’15) performed as this year’s Master of Ceremonies, also known as The Mistress. She said, “The goal of queer burlesque is to open the minds—and the genitals—of the audience, and make them feel as turned on as possible, but question why they’re getting turned on.” This goal further separates “A Queer Burlesque Reverie” from cabaret shows and sex shows. “We try to stray away from the provocative as much as we can so we’re not seen as just a bunch of people who wanna fuck on stage. That’s not what we want. What we want is to give the audience something new to think about and to make them think critically.”
The clear crowd favorite was an act that did just that. Mason Weiss (PZ ’15) performed a poem called “The Reflection” which tells the story of a transboy coming to terms with his gender identity. The piece won a standing ovation.
Tickets were in high demand for this semester’s Queer Burlesque. It is against the cast and crew’s politics to charge for tickets, though it is clear they still could have sold out. There were long lines of students clad in lingerie and fetish wear hoping to obtain tickets for both performances. For a self-described radical group, this practice allows greater creative control. Ticket sales would introduce a capitalist pressure to fulfill more marketable, mainstream ideals rather than promote critical thinking about those ideals.
If you missed out, be sure to line up early for next semester’s edition, or join the cast! Email LBlumber4139@scrippscollege.edu for more information.