toronto burlesque festival photos

Burlesque Festival Babes Bring It

If you're only as sexy as you feel, we can all take a lesson from the burlesque community's lusty ladies, who were out in full force this past weekend for the Toronto Burlesque Festival, which featured performers from Toronto, New York City, Seattle, Vancouver, Montreal, San Francisco, and Chicago.

Over two dozen acts performed Friday at the opening gala at Centre of Gravity, making up four solid hours of burlesque, peppered with a few comedy acts, a magic performance, a hula-hooper, and two circus performances.

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The over-packed, overheated venue wasn't the most pleasant place to spend so many hours (and I wondered how many people had been deterred by the $30 price tag), but all the hot naked flesh and carefully crafted routines on display was definitely some consolation.

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About half the performances were excellent--four hours is a long evening, even if there are lots of boobs on display, and there was a lot of line-up fat that could be trimmed, whether it was boring choreography, generic costuming, or not enough gusto. And it wasn't just me--many of the acts drew nary a whistle from the crowd, while a select few sent frissons through each person in the sweltering joint.

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Burlesque is a very delicate art. To really sell the audience, many elements have to be just right. There is the elaborate costuming and how it is removed (neither too fast nor too slow), and the timing--virtually no duos (or triples) really sold the crowd because it is doubly difficult to hit the choreography together and in time with the music. Even solo acts need to have their routines down stone-cold.

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The best acts committed fully to their characters--some of the best ones were the uptight schoolmistress (Miss Cherry Temple, dancing to Bjork's "It's Oh So Quiet"), cop (Kitty Neptune), and cheesy businessman (Minnie Tonka, gyrating with ZZ Top's "Sharp Dressed Man").

Miss Sugarpuss took the prize for the longest tease: she removed a trenchcoat, wrapdress, and bespangled conductor's overalls. Like many in burlesque, her body wasn't perfect, but it was all the sexier for it-- her absolute confidence in her performance had the crowd screaming in a frenzy when she finally let down her long coil of dark hair from her kerchief and twirled her tassels madly.

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Jo "Boobs" Weldon also managed to integrate rope, a dildo, and glitter into her funny-yet-sexy stewardess-themed performance to Prince.

This variety was just lovely. Where else could you see the six-strong all-male Boylesque TO troupe and Lena Love's avant-garde, almost-anti-burlesque dance performance together with more traditional-style performances from Mimi First, Amber Ray, Kitten Deville, and headliner Michelle L'Amour?

It's nice to see sexiness come in many shapes and styles--a pastie for every taste.

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Photos by Carl Heindl.


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