This year kicked off with burlesque legend Dita Von Teese dousing her ample bosom with Champagne and writhing around inside an oversized cocktail glass full of the bubbly stuff. An auspicious start, to be sure.
In 2016, L.A.'s burlesque scene was a treasure trove of wildly creative, sexy weirdness. From Game of Thrones–themed burlesque to Tim Burton–themed burlesque to burlesque whose only theme was varying degrees of nudity, it was a banner year for pasty-capped boobs.
Here's a look back at some of our favorite moments from a wild, wonderful year in burlesque.
The average adult dresses up roughly once a year (if that), and usually it's for Halloween. But it seems Angelenos find an inordinate number of excuses to dress as someone else for the day, whether it's WonderCon, Son of Monsterpalooza, the Lolita get-together Nun of Your Business, Long Beach Carnevale or Pokémon Day. Oh, and a lot of burlesque any old day.
Here we've compiled some of the best costumes we saw this year, Halloween and otherwise.
With nearly two dozen performers, wonderfully designed costumes and sexy, creative numbers, Dirty Little Secrets Burlesque kicked off the holiday season in grand fashion with the show Twisted Christmas at Harvelle's Underground in Long Beach.
Producer Alice Wonder formulated a show that plays to the group's strengths, rotates the burlesque/boylesque performers with ease, and still makes sure everyone has a moment to shine —most notably Koko Knockout, Wendy Joy, Lana Vic Sin and Felicitelor. They even managed to slip in a Top Gun number as well as Lock, Shock and Barrel's Santa Claus kidnap tune from The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Chances are your childhood involved a time-traveling DeLorean, a mad scientist named Doc Brown and rock & roll high schooler Marty McFly. Back to the Future is a modern classic, and now it's been so meticulously parodied by Hollywood Jane Revue that even Doc Brown's dog, Einstein, has a scandalously dressed counterpart.
Hollywood Jane Revue is known for its creative sendups of pop-culture institutions, and this was no exception. The performers simultaneously paid tribute to and had fun with the source material, as in the routine in which Georgia O'Queef used the DeLorean's doors to dance and tease with.
In this loose reimagining, producer Blanche Bourgeois and company mix in a variety of themed performances that play into the narrative, at times lifting audio sections from the film and acting along to them. The show was an entertaining and breezy combination of burlesque and boylesque, culminating in amazing routines by April Showers (Miss Hollywood Burlesque 2015) and Veronica Voss rocking out as Marty.
In the heart of West Hollywood, at Bar Lubitsch, a back room is blocked off by a simple red curtain with a sign informing the audience that photos/videos are prohibited during the show. This is to preserve the mood of Olivia Bellafontaine's unique show, but it has left the show shrouded in mystery, turning it into nightlife folklore.
As the opening routine came to a close on a recent night, it was clear that all sense of this being a mere burlesque show was shed along with the dancers' clothes. There are burlesque elements, no doubt, but the show twists into a euphoric experience, teasing the audience with eroticism and taunting them with disturbing images.
Despite an early prop hiccup that caused a short delay, the breezy 75-minute show swept up the audience members and rarely let them breathe until the very end. All performers played to their strengths: contortion, fetish, floorwork, etc., allowing the show to constantly switch gears but retain its sinister tone throughout. Each performer was entertaining but serving a calculated purpose in the overall arc of the show. This was the second in a three-show series for House of Red Velvet — and this is the fan favorite.
For those feeling a little burned out from the oversaturated burlesque scene, I'd highly recommend looking here for salvation. Best to have a strong stomach, though.
All photos by Daniel J. Sliwa
Tucked away in downtown Long Beach, in Harvelle's Underground, Seduction: Classic Burlesque Stripshow offered a voyeuristic eye into the mad genius that is Tim Burton. Equally twisted and titillating, this unique show manages the difficult task of balancing sinister performances with a dash of dark humor for good measure. Batman, Beetlejuice, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Big Eyes and Nightmare Before Christmas come to life before the audience, with quality costume and set creations, accompanied by trivial musings from creator Bobbie Burlesque, a boylesque performer himself. Burton would be proud.
Tim Burton Burlesque is part of the regular Seduction: Classic Burlesque Stripshow, held every third Saturday at Harvelle's in Long Beach. All photos by Daniel J. Sliwa