Attendees at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend 2016 were left stunned and angry after a ‘rape joke’ was made by the emcee of the Thursday night after party.
Sublime Boudoir are hosting all of the BHoF after parties this year and are famed for their extravagant, exquisitely detailed decor and immersive events. We understand that they have assembled casts to perform at the parties, including aerial artiste Jo Foley and popular London emcee Dusty Limits.
It was Dusty’s poorly judged jibe which has caused so much upset and anger, with a number of community members taking to social media to voice their outrage.
Costume queen Viv Clicquot told us: “[Dusty] was trying to get the crowd to shut up for some announcement he wanted to make. His tone from the onset was very demeaning towards the audience. He was trying to pull off that faux abusive brand of comedy that can be funny when executed well, by people like Miss Astrid, for example … He was becoming increasingly irritated with his own inability to capture and hold the attention of the audience, and in what was clearly an ill-advised act of desperation, he said, ‘you must all have been raped by your grandfather’.”
Dusty’s words have been widely condemned by performers including Clicquot, Jeez Loueez and Bella Blue. Bella told 21st Century Burlesque Magazine: “It was such a shame. The whole night had been so lovely and Sublime Boudoir worked magic in that after party. It was really a shame that this host seemed so self centered and really wanted it to be all about him. And when it wasn’t, he lashed out and made some poor decisions in order to get everyone’s attention. It was just in poor taste. I do look forward to seeing the rest of the after party themes that SB has planned for us in light of that.”
Dustin Wax, Executive Director of The Burlesque Hall of Fame, responded to a concerned message from Lexi Stepps, saying: “BHoF is founded on feminist principles and this is absolutely not what we stand for … I know the pressure emcees are under and understand that ill-formed decisions happen, but rape jokes are not at all appropriate, least of all in a show dedicated to the celebration of women’s creativity and sexual self-representation.”
Dusty has offered a sincere apology on his Facebook profile, saying: “Last night I fucked up. I wholeheartedly apologise. I won’t say more about this for now.”
Sassy Von Straddler told 21st Century Burlesque Magazine that another offensive joke was made earlier in the evening at the Movers, Shakers and Innovators showcase by emcee Armitage Shanks:
“Last night at the showcase, Armitage Shanks made the ‘joke’ that ‘sometimes art gets life drunk and fucks it in the ass.’ Life and art may have been switched, but the rest is the exact quote. While much more subtle than the comment made at the afterparty, it IS a rape joke. It has been so normalized that people just chuckle and brush it off, but getting someone drunk for the purpose of having sex with them is premeditated rape. I am a rape survivor and that’s what happened to me. It pissed me off because it could have triggered other survivors like me.”
The Burlesque Hall of Fame and Sublime Boudoir have issued a joint statement addressing the incident, as follows:
“Sublime Boudoir and the Burlesque Hall of Fame wish to apologize to our guests for inappropriate remarks made by our emcees last night. Both Sublime Boudoir and BHoF strive to create fun, safe and respectful environments for our attendees and deeply regret any upset that these comments may have caused. We have met with our teams to iterate our ongoing commitment to support the art of burlesque and to celebrate and bolster the feminist principles that continue to guide our missions, and assure our attendees that we will do everything we can to ensure an enjoyable experience for all.”
Read Official Statement from Dusty Limits
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.