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Friday, February 29, 2008

Bustout Burlesque authentic 50s fun

50s burlesque border=Imagine the 1950s in the French Quarter -- no karaoke bars, no daiquiri shops, just a Bourbon Street lined with burlesque clubs taking striptease to a glamorous art form. Bringing back those glory days of Bourbon is Bustout Burlesque, an elaborate show reminiscent of what you would find in the 1950s.

Rick Delaup, the creator and producer of the show, talks with us about what inspired him to create Bustout Burlesque.

“I never really knew much about the history of Bourbon Street growing up, but I have a friend who grew up on Bourbon,” Delaup said. “He was telling me about what it used to be like in the ’50s with all the burlesque clubs. I saw a lot of photographs and ads for the shows, and the stars of the shows looked like movie stars, I mean they were really glamorous. I just became fascinated with that whole period, the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s on Bourbon Street, because at that time there was a lot of entertainment on Bourbon.”

A revival of burlesque shows came on to the scene decades later, but nothing that could attain the magic of the ’50s. Bustout Burlesque makes it a priority to keep burlesque true to its original art form.

“New Orleans had burlesque shows that popped up in the mid to late ’90s, but they weren’t quite what they used to be. It was their own style of burlesque, and I wanted to put together a show that really recreated what the shows were actually like on Bourbon.

“We’re not really reinventing anything or trying to put a modern twist on it. We are recreating what the shows used to be like so the people today can see them. They were really fantastic shows.”

When he says he is trying to recreate what the shows used to be, he means it. Bustout Burlesque researched their history and produced imitations of the ’50s burlesque stars.

“One girl does a tribute to Candy Bar, who was a famous striper a long time ago, and she does a cowgirl act. Another girl does a tribute to Josephine Baker with the banana skirt. We also have an absinthe fairy, a Southern belle and a harem girl. Most of the themes are all themes that were popular back in the ’50s.”

The show is not just filled with dancing girls. They have also introduced a muscle man into an act, just like Lilly Christine the Cat Girl had muscle men in her famous acts in the ’50s.

“We just added a Tarzan and Jane act last month, and we introduced a muscle guy to the show. Because our audiences are split between the men and women, I thought I would test it out and see what would happen if we threw a guy into the mix. It seemed to be pretty popular, so we kept him.”

Delaup discusses what we can expect from a night at the show and why it has been so successful.

“They can expect a little bit of everything. That’s the one cool thing about burlesque shows. You’ve got live music, a singer, you’ve got magic, comedy and girls taking their clothes off. There’s a little bit for everybody, it’s a variety show for adults. And I think that’s why burlesque survived for so long. It really thrived for 30 years.”

While the burlesque clubs thrived in the French Quarter in the ’50s, today Bustout Burlesque has been successful because of its difference from other shows.

“What makes our show different from most other shows in the country is that we have a live jazz band that accompanies the entire show – the emcee, the singers, the dancers, they play through the entire show.”

One of the entertainers, Kitty Twist, comments on what it’s like to dance with a live jazz band.

“It makes all the difference in the world. If you don’t have the live band, you’re picking your own music and you’ll have a lot more choices of different styles of music. But the power and adrenaline you get from dancing with a live band is just incomparable.”

This high energy, exciting entertainment comes from the heart of those involved who love the era of true New Orleans burlesque.

“We all just really love the show, and we all put a lot of time in it,” says Twist. “Working with the show, it’s definitely like a tribute of love to some of the legends that got to dance on Bourbon Street. The history of it is just so beautiful.”

The history of Bourbon Street may have inspired the show we see today, but Delaup talks about his future plans with Bustout Burlesque and what he hopes to achieve.

“My ultimate goal with this is to have our own burlesque club in the French Quarter. I think it’s the perfect show for New Orleans, and it really should stay there and be there on a regular basis. Really bringing it back to New Orleans, you know, three or four nights a week, like it used to be.”

Until New Orleans has its own burlesque club, you can check out Bustout Burlesque at the House of Blues tonight, Friday, Feb. 29!

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