Viva Dallas Burlesque is “the largest burlesque show in Texas” and performs on the first and third Friday of every month at the historic Lakewood Theater in Dallas, Texas. Burlesque stars from all over the USA come to perform in Viva Dallas shows, all of which center on a particular theme. Past themes have been “Alice in Burlesqueland,” “Salute the Troops,” “Burton Burlesque,” video games, an annual Festivus Follies show, and many more. I have attended two of their shows: one of their annual “Dirty, Sexy, Funny” comedy shows and one of their “Cirque de Burlesque” shows. Both were a delight, and the “Dirty, Sexy, Funny” show featured a hula-hooping blonde who performed a cheeky tribute to Hitchcock’s The Birds that my partner and I still rave about. So, imagine my delight when I found out Viva Dallas Burlesque was ringing in 2015 with a “DC vs. Marvel” show!
I immediately contacted Viva Dallas Burlesque producer and founder of Dallas-based burlesque magazine Pin Curl, Shoshana Portnoy, who graciously agreed to an interview about the upcoming show, this Friday, January 2.
First of all, why don’t you tell us a little bit about Viva Dallas Burlesque?
Viva Dallas Burlesque is a production company that utilizes talent from all over the country to create themed burlesque shows twice monthly. We have become the largest burlesque show in Texas, and we strive to present the best in both neo and classic burlesque and everything in between.
On the first Friday of the month, the theme will be ever changing; then we have Cirque du Burlesque, a circus and burlesque hybrid spectacular that happens on the third Friday of every month. We began in 2010, and up until now the Lakewood Theater has been our home and we are sad to see it close, but we are excited to unveil our new venue in spring of 2015.
How do you come up with themes for each show?
Honestly, the approach has always been to put together the show that I would want to see as an audience member, so most of the themes are based around personal passions, like Tim Burton, or a broad theme like our annual Dirty, Sexy, Funny-A Burlesque Comedy, simply because I love to laugh. So far I have been lucky enough to have large audiences that are into it as much as I am.
What sparked your inspiration for the DC vs. Marvel show?
My comic book love begins with the X-Men. My brother and I shared the comics, and I was lucky enough to have my initiation be the “Dark Phoenix Saga.” In the mid 1980’s, I was grounded for using a combination of lemon juice and the sun to give me a “Rogue stripe” in the front of my hair. My brother and I never missed a single episode of the early 1990’s X-Men cartoon, even though by the end I was driving back from college every weekend to catch it with him on Saturday mornings.
As with all themes I think: “what do I want to see on stage?” For me, it would be an epic tassel off between DC and Marvel. Knowing there are many burlesque-ers who have the same nerdy comic love I do, I knew it would be an amazingly fun theme to bring to life!
Do you have a specific direction in mind with it or is it more free-for-all?
I had a Lucha-Libre format in mind where these over-the-top characters would have epic on stage battles during their routines. Eventually, the theme morphed into one in which the audience was controlling the action. Not to give too much away, but it’s the audience members’ acts of heroism that will determine the winner!
I’ve noticed when I attended Viva Dallas Burlesque shows in the past, that there are a variety of body types and even some explicitly feminist themes. Can you speak to that or is that more an individual performer decision?
As far as body shapes and sizes, body acceptance is a common theme in burlesque. A great performance and/or a sexy performance speaks for itself. We don’t need to be limited to the easily digestible definition of beauty force-fed to us by magazine covers and Hollywood.
As far as feminist themes, that is largely a reflection of my ideals as a producer combined with the ideals of whichever performer develops the routine. Feminist is a label I wear proudly, as many in the burlesque community do.
When I have attended, the audience seems largely female. Why do you think that is?
Originally in our American burlesque history, burlesque shows were very male dominated across the board — from the producers to the audience members. That is no longer the case, and since the modern burlesque revival, burlesque is overwhelmingly female dominated. Burlesque is much more witty and cheeky than anything you’ll find in modern striptease. The owning of your own body and sexuality, along with how, when, and why you present it and in what context can be an empowering thing. That translates to the audience, particularly striking a cord with females. Our broader definition of physical beauty also makes us more relatable to the female in the audience who may have her own insecurities — be they the size of her breasts or the dimples on her bum, all women have something that makes them feel “less than” when they see themselves in the mirror — and here is a beautiful performer on stage showing them they don’t have to.
What’s the burlesque scene like in Dallas? How does it differ from other places?
Dallas has a huge burlesque scene that is recognized nationally as one of the great cities for both audience members and performers alike. We are blessed to have fabulous theaters that welcome burlesque, huge audiences, and amazing talent. So much talent, in fact, that Texas has more award winning performers than anywhere else, and many Dallas performers travel both the country and the world! As a burlesque fan and producer, there is nowhere else I would rather be!
Kitty Pryde, Wonder Woman, Catwoman, Storm, and Scarlet Witch will be there. Will you? Balcony seats are still available, book your tickets now! Can’t make it this Friday? Follow Viva Dallas Burlesque on Facebook to stay up to date on future shows – they are never short on geek themes. And check back here for a post-show review!