Texas is one of the largest states in the US and its burlesque scene is growing to match it every day. With a growing reputation for innovation and an enthusiastic fan base, Texas is quickly becoming a premier stop for travelling burlesque performers from around the world
The largest burlesque hub in Texas, Dallas, Ft. Worth, and Denton (or the DFW metroplex) boasts a performance community to match, loaded with diversity and Texas pride. If you’re looking for big shows in classic theatre venues, Viva Dallas Burlesque is a sure thing, offering Cirque du Burlesque and monthly themed shows. Burlesque Hall of Fame favourites The Ruby Revue, Missy Lisa and Ginger Valentine frequently perform at House of Blues Dallas and Houston.
If you prefer more intimate venues showcasing newer performers, check out Whiskey Tongue Burlesque in Denton and Devil Dolls Burlesque in Ft. Worth. And with schools like The Dallas School of Burlesque, The Academy of Queerlesque, and The Burlesque Experience producing new graduates all the time, there is always a steady stream of new talent and ideas to keep things fresh.
DFW may be the biggest burlesque hub in Texas, but Austin is the most diverse, doing its part to live up to the city’s unofficial slogan, ‘Keep Austin Weird’. With at least ten established troupes—and more popping up every day—Austin has a little something for everyone. And with internationally-recognised stars like Coco Lectric, Ruby Joule and more, it’s pretty much guaranteed you’ll see something special at one of the many shows around town each week.
Despite the wide range of styles, from classic to neo-burlesque to sometimes the downright absurd, a strong sense of community exists between performers in Austin, who have come together in recent years to form the Austin Burlesque Alliance meant to foster a sense of inclusivity and collaboration between performers. With various performance festivals throughout the year and the moniker ‘live music capitol’ of the world, this city has a long and deeply embedded culture of performance art, which has allowed it to embrace burlesque and give it one of the most vibrant, active burlesque communities in the US.
San Antonio burlesque has virtually exploded in the last 5-10 years! Sideshow, classic, comedic, whatever you prefer in your striptease, you can find it here. Now in its fourth year, the San Antonio Burlesque Festival (produced by the multi-talented trio of Gaige, Jasper St. James and Pelvis Costello) is making a national name for itself as a prestigious stop on the burlesque festival circuit. Boasting crowd-pleasing troupes such as Pastie Pops Burlesque, Stars and Garters Burlesque and more, San Antonio, near the center of the state and already a tourist attraction in its own right, is becoming one of the premier locations in a tour of Texas burlesque.
When you talk to burlesquers in Houston, almost all of them will emphasise a feeling of freedom and spirit that they experience in what they do. Audiences clearly sense it too and respond positively. Shows like Dem Damn Dames incorporate high flying aerials with solid burlesque skills to produce breathtaking, and often comedic, shows while Houston Burlesque Revue and Moonlight Dolls combine sex and glamour for some of the best entertainment in the city. As Kiki Maroon, producer of Kiki’s Sordid Sideshow noted of Houston’s unique energy, “I didn’t break the rules because I didn’t even know they were there. Who am I to tell [another performer] what to do?” This young, unconventional spirit makes Houston the up-and-coming burlesque city to watch.
Situated on the Gulf coast, Corpus Christi is still just getting started. Despite its distance from many other major cities, Corpus and its troupe, After Dark Burlesque Revue (produced by Maye Applebottom and Rosie Rawhyde), continue to draw performers by offering them a chance to do something out of the box. Attending a burlesque show in Corpus today you would never know that it had a difficult beginning, but that initial struggle instilled a sense of showmanship and enthusiasm for constant change and adaptation in both the performers and producers. According to Rosie, their primary goal is to “put Corpus Christi Burlesque and our great city on the burlesque map.” One thing is certain: in Corpus Christi, you never see the same show twice.
Right on the Texas/Mexico border, El Paso is heavily influenced by both cultures. From food, to fashion, to burlesque, El Paso is a fusion of the best Texas has to offer with the colour and flavour of Mexico. Siren St. Sin, a prominent performer and producer in the El Paso scene, is one of the people working to grow the community by attracting new students to the art form and putting on shows as varied and unique as the mixed borderland culture evident throughout this vibrant city.
In Texas, new troupes are forming every day and fledgling performers are taking their first steps toward the stage. Burlesque communities are becoming a reality outside of major cities, in places like San Marcos, Amarillo and Katy. Texas is a huge state with a larger than life history and enough cultural influences to fill Cowboys stadium. The result is a rich blend of performers and styles that can be found nowhere else in the world.
A Teasetastic Tour of Texas Burlesque written by Eve Vocative
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.