Thanks to the dynamic dancers who’ve been doing it for decades, some curvy new crews, and creative performers from all walks of life infusing pop culture, music, gender-blending and more into the old school artform, burlesque in Los Angeles is thriving! Here — in no particular order — are the best groups bumping, grinding, twirling, stripping, stunning, shocking and rocking L.A. stages right now.
TEASE, If You Please
Through a mirage of colorful fan feathers, tightly-cinched corsets and sparkling crystals, this stunning troupe combines classic strip tease coquettishness and wise-cracking vaudeville humor into a seamless live revue. Created by Donna Hood, a beguiling dancer who earned her tassels touring with Dita Von Teese, the show enchants with sophistication, glamour and opulent costumes. Featuring a large cast of both male and female dancers, the production can be seen at the art deco-styled Exchange LA nightclub downtown and at the Black Rabbit Rose cabaret in Hollywood. teaseifyouplease.com.
The Bootleg Bombshells
Each Wednesday, as the clock strikes midnight, these L.A. Bombshells ready their fishnets and fringe, taking over the basement of the Townhouse in Venice, a spot haunted by a Prohibition-era speakeasy past. Eclectic and diverse, this troupe delivers a wide range of burlesque styles, from aerial, pole and contortionist acrobatics to traditional cabaret. Founded in 2013 by dancer Lulu Mon Dieu, the show varies weekly with a rotating number of guest artists, but the core cast consists of Lulu, “Femcee” Lux LaCroix, pole dancer Danielle G and performance artist Coco Ono. The Bootleg Bombshells have created unique shows based around such themes as religion, goth and the 1980s, as well as shows inspired by music artists Prince and Rob Zombie. bootlegbombshells.com.
Belle, Book & Candle
Stirring up a spellbinding cauldron of witch’s brew, this magical monthly show led by Pleasant “Princess Farhana” Gehman and Shana Leilani incorporates sorcery, hoodoo and the occult into their burlesque revue held the third Wednesday of each month at the historic El Cid in Silver Lake. With a bevy of provocative dancers, the troupe explores the dark arts in a seductive way, entrancing the audience with magical themes as well as tarot readings, divinations, energy healings, rituals and supernaturally inspired music (L.A. Weekly’s culture editor Lina Lecaro is the DJ). The night intentionally shares a name with the 1958 Kim Novak film centered around a sexy enchantress who casts a love spell. facebook.com/pg/bellebookandcandle/.
Quintessential Wonder Nasty (QWN)
Pushing boundaries, questioning sexual stereotypes and opening eyes and minds in the name of freedom, the gender fluid performers of Quintessential Wonder Nasty categorize their cabaret style as “queerlesque.” In sassy rainbow wigs, fishnets and teasing lingerie, their act incorporates old school burlesque, drag, aerial work, fire dancing, magic and more. wondernasty.com.
For a walk on the weirder side, here’s a monthly show that might even make John Waters roll his eyes and appreciatively grin. Every first Thursday of the month, shock value comes out to play in a revue featuring drag, comedy and sideshow, upholding its claim to be the messiest burlesque in the universe. In fact, ponchos and tarps are distributed to those in the “splash zone” at the Canby, a Reseda dive bar where WTF-lesque performs. Produced by the aptly named Brandy Snifter and Tiffy Twister, some of the troupe’s recent burlesque themes revolved around serial killers, Tim Curry, Monty Python and Danny DeVito. facebook.com/wtflesque.
With lots of sizzling, steamy imagery, Babylon Cabaret takes its inspiration from the red-hot jazz days of the 1920s to 1940s, gin-soaked gangsters, bee stung-lipped molls and smokey red-light bordellos from New Orleans to Berlin. With original live music performed by Cathouse Red’s jazz combo, the troupe also highlights comedians, magicians, singers and a topless tap dancer. Swanky and sassy, the performances are produced by Miss Spent Youth and Cathouse Red, taking place at El Cid in Silver Lake. Audience members are encouraged to dress in period styles. babyloncabaret.com.
From B-movies to comic books to monsters, Peepshow performs edgy, nerdy burlesque aimed at freaks, geeks and those with eclectic tastes. Now in its 11th year, the troupe’s campy variety-style show is the longest running monthly burlesque production in Los Angeles. peepshowmenagerie.com.
Taking their sparkle from the Hollywood film and TV industry, where they all strut the hustle as professional dancers, this group performs tightly choreographed modern burlesque. They are seductive without being overly risqué, and their classy, accessible cabaret allows them to tour the country regularly. thelalas.com.
It’s no mere coincidence that this hot as Hades burlesque troupe shares a name (sort of) with a notable song by guitar-driven rockers AC/DC. Dressed in leather and lace, these badass chicks are serious about rock & roll, integrating it into their suggestive choreography. Combining cabaret striptease with a hard rock sensibility, this group brings the hits, hard and hot. hellsbellesburlesque.com.
Dirty Little Secrets
Sort of like an all-you-can-eat buffet, DLS brings a lot of choices to the table. Comprised of more than 20 performers — both girls and guys — they are the area’s largest burlesque troupe, serving up an extensive array of dance styles set to themes such as Game of Thrones, Harry Potter and “Nightmare Before Stripmas.” dirtylittlesecretsburlesque.com.
Bringing electricity and an element of danger, the ladies of Luxe present a highly energetic cabaret show choreographed to the heartbeat of a live rock band. Exploring all corners of the room — from stage to scaffolding to the top of the bar — the dancers tantalize, possessed by the throbbing music and the dark decadence of ’80s and ’90s goth sounds. facebook.com/LuxeObscuraOfficial.
Exploding with gusto, guts and spectacle, Lucha VaVoom raises pulses with a uniquely exuberant combination of burlesque, comedy and lucha libre masked wrestling. Now in its 17th year, this troupe vivaciously teases the audience from the wrestling ring, anchoring a dynamic extravaganza with sass and sex appeal. luchavavoom.com.
Cherry Boom Boom
As American as hot apple pie (or cherry), speedway shows and fringed cowgirl boots, this grinding gaggle brings an alluring desirability to our country’s down-home stereotypes, from the flag to motocross. Set to rawk hits, the dancers flirtatiously work the room, exhibiting a come-hither pride for the good ol’ U.S.A. cherryboomboom.com.
The Dollface Dames
Cheeky and spirited, this old school style troupe possess an endearing seductiveness, charming with time-honored cabaret and fan dances, audacious fire dances, aerial work and even a balloon-popping number. Their theme shows include Bill & Ted’s Burlesque Adventure, Geek to Chic and a vintage-styled WWII Pin-up Revue. thedollfacedames.com.
The Damn Devillez
Tantalizing with diabolic intent, these impish vixens bring unpredictability and dangerous eroticism to their burlesque. Whether wrestling in fake blood or teasing with knives, the mood is dark, edgy and powerful. Founded in 2016 by Harley Harpurr, this horror-inspired troupe is adept at straddling the fine line between fear and sexuality. thedamndevillez.com.
Sultry Sweet Burlesque
As their name implies, the sirens behind Sultry Sweet tempt with a certain degree of joie de vivre and verve. Now in its eigth year, the show features touring burlesque artists as well as local performers who shimmy to a live band between comedy and magic acts. sultrysweetburlesque.com.
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