Darlinda Just Darlinda reviews the Best Boylesque category at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend 2015 Tournament of Tease…
I cannot begin to speak about the Best Boylesque category at The Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend’s Tournament of Tease without talking about GENDER! This year was not the first year they allowed someone who doesn’t identify as ‘male’ to compete in the boylesque category, but this year was the first year that it was really spoken about. In 2007 Rose Wood competed in the Best Boylesque category. Rose doesn’t identify as male and her act was a very classic act, so I was surprised that Lou Henry Hoover (a drag king, one half of Kitten N’ Lou, winner of 2014 Most Comedic with his partner Kitten LaRue) was allowed to be in the Best Boylesque category when Rose Wood clearly should have been in the Miss Exotic World Reigning Queen of Burlesque category because she identifies as female.
21st Century Burlesque Magazine Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend 2015 Coverage is sponsored by Fancy Feather.
We’ve come a long way in awareness about gender binary in burlesque since 2007, but it got me thinking: should drag queens or more feminine performances (meaning gown, boa, heels, female appearing makeup) be entered into the Miss Exotic World Reigning Queen of Burlesque category? Should there be a category for drag queens/kings? If you have fully transitioned to one gender, shouldn’t you be in that gendered category? Should the categories be gendered? Should there be a gender queer category? Tigger! pointed out in his speech before the category began that the gender binary is artificial, and that before the boylesque category was created in 2006, he and other male identified burlesque performers just wanted “a place at the table with their sisters.” This year brought up lots of questions for me about the category itself and I encourage you readers to ask these same questions! Perhaps Armitage Shanks put it perfectly: “Come one, come all, as long as you come!” And they came alright! Here’s my review of the Best Boylesque category at BHoF 2015.
First to the stage was the first female-bodied performer to be in the Boylesque category, self identified ‘Dapper Drag King’ Lou Henry Hoover, performing one of my favourite absurd modern dance strip teases! Lou comes out to the stage to the wonderfully cheesy tune Time after Time by Cyndi Lauper. He is dressed as a sailor, carrying a laundry bag monogrammed with his last name. He performs a fantastic interpretive dance to the tune, which BEGS to have an interpretive dance choreographed to it. As he dances, he strips, removing his sailor suit, and opens the laundry bag to reveal the exact same suit but as a onesie. As he pulls out the onesie a bunch of red balls fall out of the bag; he removes a red ball from his sailor hat and replaces it with one that falls out of the bag, all the while leaping, contracting and interpretive dancing. I’ve seen Lou do this act before and as NYC stages are so small it was nice to see him take charge of the huge stage and dance it out!
Next up was Perth resident, crowned Mr Boylesque Australia 2014, Charlie D. Barkle! I had the pleasure of seeing this act a couple of weeks before at the New York Boylesque Festival and it was a even better on the huge stage at The Orleans. There is a nicely placed voiceover at the beginning of the act – There is no longer a choice. I know that I must use myself as the subject of my experiment – and then Sail by Awolnation comes on. Charlie delivered a honest to goodness neo-burlesque act with a classic storyline of a scientist gone mad from his own research. He wasn’t afraid to age his face and go crazy! I thought he could have gone even crazier, though that’s my preference for just about anyone! His choreography was on point and I always love an exit into the audience for a power finish!
Third to the stage was Waxie Moon, “an international, gender-blending, queer lady boylesque performance-art stripping sensation!” Waxie delivered a tight strip tease to a musical medley of classic tunes familiar to everyone!
Starting with some ominous Beethoven in a black cape, then some classic AC/DC rock with a fun and badass attitude, he reveals his black gown and gloves. As he removes his glove The Flower Duet plays, then a silence that moves into Habanera from Carmen, which evokes another glove removal. Then cut to the beginning of Don’t Stop Believing by Journey, which gets Waxie dancing like the classically trained balletic dancer that he is – turns and kicks galore – but wait, there’s more! Yes, another dramatic classical score plays and his dress comes off, revealing a shorter black dress, and then Waxie rocks out Fosse style to the beginning of (I can’t get no) Satisfaction. Of course this musical journey wouldn’t be complete without a SUPER SAD Moonlight Sonata segment in which Waxie morosely teases out of his shorter dress. Cut to the beginning of Let it Be by the Beatles as Waxie triumphantly reveals his sparkly pasties and g-string and ends with more dramatic classical and a gorgeous floor pose! I love this number and it may have been too perfect. Waxie’s choreography was too tight; I feel he needed a few more moments to connect with the audience. I saw these moments in this same act at the NY Boylesque Festival in May. Perhaps they got lost in the grandness of this stage?
And last but certainly not least was Matt Finish, our new reigning ‘King of Boylesque’ 2015. He came on to I feel Pretty from West Side story in a dazzling red shirt and black pants, then proceeded to dance, shimmy, leap, prance, bump and grind his way through his strip tease which was performed to a number of West Side Story songs. That stage is HUGE and he FILLED IT UP! This act was a true ‘classic’ burlesque act. The only thing I could have used more of was a bit more tease, but obviously this act was a winner! Congrats, Matt!
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