Take ten minutes out of your evening to watch this brave video from Jeez Loueez, outlining some of her concerns after participating in the New Orleans Burlesque Festival. The following is an introduction to the clip, written by Jeez for 21st Century Burlesque Magazine readers. Please share your views and thoughts in the comments section below…
The New Orleans Burlesque Festival is known to many as one of the most glamorous and coveted events of the year. My first time attending was in 2010 as a fan, where I saw Coco Lectric set the stage on fire with a passionate and well-deserved win of the queen pageant. The two years following I performed in the newly added Bad Girls of Burlesque showcase, described as a celebration of “the wicked, the wayward, and the wanton” of burlesque. While I enjoyed the thrill of being in New Orleans with friends, I left both shows feeling underwhelmed and conflicted. Having not attended the last two years because I was skeptical of the way the festival is curated and the questionable ethics of the producer, on a whim I decided to apply for the queen competition. While I was (not surprisingly) rejected for that slot, I did secure the job of emceeing the Bad Girls of Burlesque show. Knowing about the lack of POC visibility and the preference of ‘classic 1950s’ style I was excited to represent for the people. Unfortunately, once again I left feeling upset, conflicted and angry.
After The Incredible Edible Akynos posted a video about her issues with the show I decided to follow up with my own opinion piece in regards to the lack of diversity and abundance of cultural appropriation. I took a week to reflect on how I felt and what I wanted to address. I ran out of space to continue talking, so I didn’t get to touch on points such as the New Orleans Burlesque Festival not being representative of the New Orleans burlesque community at large, and New Orleans being a city with a large PoC demographic that isn’t represented whatsoever, and the questionable ethics and business practices regarding the queens competition.
Please know that the views expressed are mine and mine alone, but I think it’s important to ask these questions and start conversations that lead to solutions. These are real issues that affect our community in real ways. I’m human, and this is completely unedited. I wanted to speak freely and without censorship. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to host at the festival, but I need to let you know what’s up and we need to really start thinking about what our participation in such practices mean and represent.
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.