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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Freakshow fun: Burlesque Sideshow Festival

burlesque freakshow

Looking for some bawdy burlesque, sideshow freakiness and vaudeville glam to enliven the weekend?

You’re in luck, as the Americana, Burlesque & Sideshow Festival returns to Asheville Friday through Sunday with a lineup full of outrageous spectacle.

The main event is a Saturday night cabaret at The Orange Peel starring Trixie Little & the Evil Hate Monkey, an acrobatic burlesque duo from Baltimore.

Joining the fun are performers Syrens of the South, Panty Raid, and Big Mama D, among others, with Mab (just Mab) handling emcee duties. Glass walking, bullwhip snapping and hula hooping are all part of the fun, with an after-party on tap once the curtain closes.

Workshops are scheduled Saturday and Sunday to learn performance, makeup and costume skills, and the weekend kicks off Friday night with a Red Carpet Gala at the Fine Arts Theatre.

Co-creator Torva Logan of Future of Tradition Productions and Arts2People talked to Take5 about the second annual festival.

Question: What makes burlesque so hot in Asheville and beyond?

Answer: In Asheville in particular, I think what has kept (burlesque) so hot is that it’s an interesting performance art that has a high entertainment value while at the same time poking fun at some of the many pressing issues in our society.

Q: How do you characterize the Saturday night headliners?

A: Trixie Little and the Evil Hate Monkey have a number of qualities that make them both sideshow and burlesque. Not only do you have the typical burlesque aspect of them taking each other’s clothes off, but you also have this amazing acrobatic element coupled with this raunchy humor that pokes fun at some of the more bizarre aspects of our culture that we normally wouldn’t stop and take a look at.

Q: What’s going on at Saturday’s after-party in The Orange Peel?

A: After all of that energy that comes off of the show, people are going to dance and have a chance to hear a very interesting collaboration called The Mezmer Society. It’s great Balkan-flavored music. People will also have a chance to mingle and shop some of the many vendors. We will have a variety of costume, lingerie, jewelry, accessories and cosmetics from local and regional merchants.

Q: What’s the lineup at Friday night’s Red Carpet Gala?

A: It’s going to be an interesting Vaudevillian burlesque mix that includes local and regional performances and a special tango striptease just to prime the senses for the rest of the festival. That will be followed by a documentary about last year’s headliner, Princess Farhana. It’s a year in (her) life that includes footage from last year’s festival.

Q: What makes the festival uniquely Asheville?

A: Not only do you encompass the modern representation of Asheville as a performing arts haven, but it also takes you back to the time when vaudeville and burlesque were very popular, so you’re bringing the historical element of the time when people were poised to make fun of some very stringent social rules. People are welcome to come in costume. Bring your zaniest self and come for a good time.

By Michael Flynn

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