By Christopher A. Pape
The history of burlesque in New York City is more sordid than its actual reality. And long before strippers twirled on poles in G-strings, adult entertainment pretty much consisted of burlesque. With almost fifty theaters that catered to this timeless activity, New York City was the center of the burlesque movement until Mayor Fiorello La Guardia banned it in the 1930’s, calling it entertainment for morons.
Yet, times have changed (obviously) and the neo-burlesque movement is back en vogue in New York. Burlesque has made such a resurgent comeback that Christina Aguilera and Cher recently co-starred in the movie, “Burlesque” – helping to reestablish this cherished tradition.
The neo-burlesque movement is not a fad and is much more than just vintage dance and an act recreated, but is, in fact, performance art. Some might even venture to say that it is political and social satire; the new punk rock. And one of the people most responsible for this uptick in popularity is Gary Beeber, producer of Gotham Burlesque and The Naked Truth, two shows that are performed at The Triad Theater on West 72nd. Here one can find professional burlesque dancers who are ultra-talented and extremely dedicated.
What becomes abundantly clear is that the old burlesque was about the entertainer, being beautiful and maybe doing a routine and some dance steps. But now burlesque is about how talented you are. There’s a lot of parody, it’s very clever and it’s very political. It’s also doesn’t matter what body shape you are. Before, it was about a woman’s beautiful body, but today’s women come in all shapes and size. The best part is that audiences are appreciating and loving it.
Having recently been invited to see a burlesque performance, I can say at first I was skeptical. What would there be and how raunchy would it become? Well, I needn’t have worried. While not appropriate for children, it still fits comfortably within acceptable and normal entertainment for adults. I would go so far as to say many television shows on primetime are more risqué than what either Gotham or The Naked Truth shows are actualizing.
Consisting of various performances by women of all shapes, sized and themes – the neo-burlesque is light-hearted while still promoting a message; whatever that particular message might be. Inviting guests to join me, I was enthralled and captivating by this nontraditional form of entertainment and vowed that I would be back. Go for yourself, bring the girls or guys and enjoy. I guarantee you will love it!