We’re pleased to announce that application results for The Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekender 2016 will be coming out soon. With hundreds of applications from performers around the world, there will be plenty of joy but, of course, disappointment as well. We encourage everyone who submitted to feel proud of their efforts, and we thank each and every applicant for their commitment to our art and for sharing their performances with us.
Although information on the selection and judging processes to invite those few to perform in the Miss Exotic World category—and the height of the sparkly bar one has to hurdle to be named The Reigning Queen of Burlesquecan be found on the application site, we’re delighted to partner with 21st Century Burlesque to share again here with the community.
The Burlesque Hall of Fame is dedicated to showcasing the most exciting, entertaining, innovative, fun, sexy and/or hilarious burlesque acts from all over the world. Our ongoing commitment is to present a diversity of acts in every sense of the word and we strive to be as representative as possible within the constraints of what is submitted each year.
We don’t directly distinguish between “neo” and “classic” (especially given that for every two performers, there are three definitions of those terms) in the application, selection or judging process (other than the superlative award of “most classic,” which is not limited to MEW competitors), and we work hard to make sure our selection and judging panels are well balanced in their appreciation of both more traditional forms and more experimental forms.
Plain and simple: The act is all that matters . Acts that dazzle. Acts that bring it. Acts where the performers absolutely OWN their time on stage and leave the audience cheering, weeping, gasping, laughing—whatever the act is intended to do. The selection committee gives full and equal consideration to each and every act submitted, and the evaluation is strictly of the act and how the selection team perceives it will translate to the big stage.
The selection committee and the judges are not the same people. And they change every year. Both committees include a Legend, a MEW or other titleholder, an academic, a producer, and other community members. And to further ensure fairness, the identity of the selection committee is confidential–even to each other–and we recruit enough of them to statistically reduce the presence of bias as much as possible. Judges are shown the exact same criteria, word for word, that are on the application and we require the judges to adhere to these criteria.
The application and selection processes have changed a lot since they were initiated in 2004. Thanks to the help, insight and suggestions of experts inside and beyond our community, we believe we provide one of the most extensive, comprehensive, thorough, and fair evaluation processes possible. And we remain entirely open to—and actively seek out—recommendations and changes to ensure that the process continues to evolve as our art does.
The selection and judging criteria, as well as more information about the history of the process, can be found on our application site . But to summarize, the committees are looking specifically at:
Style in the sense of overall glamour and execution. It’s the attention to detail and general theatricality of the entrant’s look. We look for personal style to shine through.
Stage presence, charisma and energy. That intangible oomph, that passion for the art, that owning of the moment, that sometimes undefinable “it” factor that commands viewers’ attention.
Entrance to and exit from the stage. First and last impressions count, and the strongest acts are coherent and complete from beginning to end.
Costume is important, but it does not have to be expensive or extravagant. It does need to communicate effectively on The Big Stage, front row to back, the emotions and/or concepts the performer intends.
The three Ps: Poise, polish and professionalism. Together, these elements reference the overall finesse and smoothness of the performance, including how the performer handles malfunctions or other unpredictable issues. As noted, the committees include connoisseurs of a wide range of performance genres, skills and styles. They are expert in and value what has come before, but also actively seek and respect the new. Originality and creativity are therefore very important components, as are movement and dance ability — meaning not necessarily formal training in a movement art, but more a pleasure to watch.
Striptease is a unique theatrical element of burlesque. The committees consider carefully the execution of reveals and the striptease expertise demonstrated in skillful, inventive, innovative, humorous, mischievous and/or sensual removal (or addition) of costume pieces.
The performers who have competed for the title of Miss Exotic World have represented the best of what our art form offers and owned each of these elements, irrespective of others’ definitions of those performers’ “style.” Their personal style, charisma, presence, professionalism, creativity and expertise are what got them to the BHoF stage. And those who have been awarded the title of The Reigning Queen of Burlesque are, simply put, the best of the best.
By Dustin Wax, Executive Director, Burlesque Hall of Fame; and Joyce Tang, Executive Producer, Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekender. Pieces of this article were excerpted from the BHoF application FAQs and Information.
Quoted in major international newspapers and held in high esteem and affection by the international burlesque community, 21st Century Burlesque Magazine has documented the contemporary burlesque scene since 2007. Founded and edited by Holli-Mae Johnson.