Burlesque TOP 50 2013 Postmortem, by J.D. Oxblood
Disclaimer: This is an analysis of the results of the Burlesque TOP 50 2013 as compared to the predictions of the author based on handicapping per past rankings and prior performances. No subjective judgment is implied or should be construed except where noted by the author. All analyses (and opinions, where noted) are the product of the author solely and in no way reflect the opinions of the owner or management of 21st Century Burlesque Magazine. The tallying and reporting of the Burlesque TOP 50 is strictly unbiased.
To review, my predictions for the 2013 Burlesque TOP 10 were:
#1. Dirty Martini, #2. Jo Weldon, #3. Michelle L’Amour, #4. Dita Von Teese, #5. Stage Door Johnnies, #6. Perle Noire, #7. LouLou D’Vil, #8. Coco Lectric, #9. Indigo Blue, #10. Imogen Kelly.
How did I do for the top ten? I got nine out of ten, which is pretty good. But I got NONE in the correct order. Don’t you wish you had bet me ten bucks? Let’s take a look at the final ten the way God and you—the voters—intended:
|2013||Name||2012 Rank||Change||BHOF Awards||Twitter Followers*|
|#1||LouLou D’Vil||#16||up 15||Queen, Debut, Most Classic||2,660|
|#2||Dirty Martini||#1||down 1||Queen, Sally Rand||6,950|
|#3||Perle Noire||#5 (tie)||up 2||2nd Runner Up, Debut, Most Dazzling||4,180|
|#4||Imogen Kelly||#7||up 3||Queen||N/A|
|#5||Michelle L’Amour||#3||down 2||Queen||9,490|
|#6||Roxi D’Lite||#9||up 3||Queen, 1st Runner Up||9,120|
|#7||Dita Von Teese||#4||down 3||Sassy Lassy||1,574,840|
|#8||Stage Door Johnnies||#8||—||Group; King (Ray); Duet, Innovative (Jett)||1,530|
|#9||Jo Weldon||#2||down 7||7,460|
|#10||Coco Lectric||#5 (tie)||down 5||3,560|
My toughest decision in calling the top ten was who would slip from last year, as I was convinced that two would have to fall off to make room for the rising LouLou D’Vil and the fact that Coco and Perle tied last year for 5th (Thankfully, there were no ties this year in the top ten**). I guessed right about Anna Fur Laxis, who had the most heart-wrenchingly dramatic fall this year, 31 places from 2012’s #10 to this year’s #41 (tied with Scarlett Martini). Don’t worry, Anna’s in Shanghai rocking it. I guessed wrong about Roxi D’Lite, who not only stayed in the top ten but rose 3 places to #6. So if not Roxi, who slipped? It was Indigo Blue, who fell 11 places from last year’s #6 to this year’s #15.
Let’s discuss. I was surprised to see Coco Lectric fall—she’s been working it, hitting five festivals last year plus a tour with the Jigglewatts, and she’s now competed for Queen three years in a row. But Texas is still Texas, and with so little burlex-journalism coming out of Texas it’s hard to know what’s going on down there.
Jo Weldon may have fallen by the numbers, but whatevs. She’s clearly in her own category, basically Dame Legend yet might yet compete for Queen. (Full disclaimer: I’m incapable of being objective about Jo. I’m guilty of objectifying her, am personally in love with her, and she was one of the earliest supporters of my quest to become a burlesque commentator.)
Stage Door Johnnies, no change. Dita von Teese fell, but it’s surely temporary, as she didn’t show up to Burlesque Hall of Fame in 2012 to receive an award, but classily came this year to present one to Catherine D’Lish (#21, thankfully up from 2012’s #40). P.S. Catherine, can I get an exclusive interview? Because I think you deserve a special award for “Victim of Greatest Douchebaggery in 2013.” [Seconded. Ed.]
Roxi D’lite is up—her Theatre Bizarre has a wicked reputation, and she’s super active on Instagram—and Michelle L’amour is down a smidge. Imogen Kelly is solidly in the top 5, and for that, I must salute all of you internet-savvy strippers. If Imogen is not a screaming role model in all things burlesque purports to be about, I don’t know who is. (I can’t be objective about Imogen, either; she used to write for BurlesqueBeat—and hopefully will again—and she’s just a fucking badass.)
To see Perle Noire at #3 should be surprising considering that she didn’t compete for Queen in 2013, spent some of the year in Australia (where great performers go to make money, and where news exists in a vacuum) and also relocated again from New Orleans back to New York. (From her Golden Pasties win, one word: Shoes.) We daren’t be surprised by anything when it comes to Perle.
And Dirty Martini? Fallen from #1? Is it true? What’s true is that she happily tweeted, “I’m number 2!” which goes right back to what I’ve been saying about personality, personality, and personality.
As for our new #1, LouLou D’vil, I’m sure some people are pissed. She’s relatively new on the scene, and to Americans, kind of came out of nowhere. In an interview after her BHoF 2011 ‘Best Debut’ win, she told me that she didn’t expect to win. She also said that she loves New Orleans, doesn’t like London (“It seems cold”) and loves absinthe. When I asked her how she felt about competing for Queen, she said, “It’s really crazy. It’s one of the biggest dreams that I’ve had, so it’s awesome. I’m really excited to go there and I’m going to do what I did last year. Have fun, do a good performance, and that’s it. And we’ll see if it’s enough or no.” The answer, for 2012, was no; apparently that answer changed in 2013. When I asked if she was intimidated, LouLou said, “Well, I don’t think of it as a competition.”
Check out this photo from when LouLou was one of the Tease Queens, showing off her tough Tempest tattoo with Tempest:
In the non-performer category, once again, 21st Century Burlesque’s own workaholic Holli-Mae Johnson did not make the cut, and, once again, the only non-performer to crack the TOP 50 was David Bishop, squeaking in at #42, slipping 16 slots from his high point last year. But what’s really going to bake your noodle is realizing that he’s only one slot less popular than Anna Fur Laxis.
As for my other maybes and dark horses, Trixie Little and the Evil Hate Monkey rose up 3 slots to #11, their highest showing yet. Portland bruiser Russell Bruner also rose 3 to #16. He’s been doing a lot of traveling since winning King in 2012—5 festivals in 2013 plus his step-down at BHOF—and people are learning his name. As for Ophelia Flame, 1st Runner Up for Queen in 2012 which helped her hit #13 last year, she “drastically scaled back” her performing and “even skipped BHoF for the first time in 9 years,” slipping to #45. Via Facebook, she said, “During my break I learned unequivocally that performing is my deepest love. FLAME ON!” And Julie Atlas Muz? It may have been her wedding that got her extra love last year, but she only slipped 6 to #17.
And watch what’s happening in the 11-20 set, as Kitty Bang Bang is up to #19; because Minnie Tonka, who competed for Queen, hit #14; Lola Frost, 2nd Runner Up, hit #13; and Laurie Hagen—whose insane reverse strip was the talk of BHOF this year, yet didn’t even win ‘Best Debut’—cracked #12. She was #43 last year.
I’m not a statistician, but it does seem that performing at BHOF matters more than ever if you want to rank in the TOP 50. Why is Burlesque Hall of Fame so important? Because it is, folks, it just is. I know that sounds like a tautology, and Lawd knows that org’s got issues, but BHOF is the venue that truly matters and it affects how your peers—and people who think they’re your peers, and people who look up to you, and people you look up to—think about you. I said that the “other” queen in New Orleans didn’t affect the TOP 50, and the truth will out: Last years New Orleans queen winner actually slipped 10 slots down to #29.
Performing in festivals and winning awards will help your visibility with the public at large, but there’s a strong argument to be made that dressing room behavior and personal reputation carry a lot of weight amongst other burlesquers. And let’s not fool ourselves—the TOP 50 is clearly determined by other burlesquers. Case in point: Michelle L’Amour’s “Butthoven” has been viewed 8.2 million times on Vimeo (and sixty thousand more or so on YouTube). I don’t think those people voted on the Burlesque TOP 50.
Getting paid and getting respect are not the same thing. Consider Jennifer Weiner, who’s successful but still cranky, or Keanu Reeves, who probably isn’t getting an Oscar nod for 47 Ronin, or Russell Brand, who couldn’t get respect even after being published in The New Statesman—besides, he already lost the love of the REAL #1 most-successful biggest-earner top burlesque performer of 2013.
Bet your last nickel,
*Rounded to the tens, as of 10/1/14.
**Maybe it’s an English thing, but in the U.S., if there’s a tie for fifthplace, there is no sixth. Because of 21st Century Burlesque’s inclusionary tie policy, 2013’s Burlesque TOP 50 contains 53 people.