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Arts & Culture

Hide the children (but not the women), burlesque is in town

Photo: Photos by Christopher L. Combs, License: N/A

Photos by Christopher L. Combs

Clockwise from top: Jasper St. James, Kassy Luvjoy, Gaige, Vixy Van Hellen.

Photo: Christopher L. Combs, License: N/A

Christopher L. Combs

Jasper St. James, Camille Toe, Kassy Luvjoy, Vixy Van Hellen, Gaige, Suki Jones

Photo: Jeffrey Millies Photography, Chicago, License: N/A

Jeffrey Millies Photography, Chicago

Coco Lectric

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A card that SA holds that eludes the grasp of other Texas towns is the presence of male burlesque performers. "There are four boylesque performers in San Antonio," says Muñoz. "The festival will present three of them."

Take a look at the lineup at the New York Boylesque Festival — you'll see plenty of the muscle boy and swimmer body types of the sort styled at Hardbodies on North St. Mary's Street and at gay strip clubs cross the country. But large men like Jasper St. James of the Pastie Pops? I don't think so. Well, so much for New York — world leader, indeed. St. James uses his statuesque (though hardly huge, by SA standards) frame to ribald effect in a number of peeling acts and a trademark routine with popping balloons. Even when done by a petite woman, the balloon show is hilarious because it burlesques stripping. Yes, burlesque can be a verb, and it's high time we defined our terms in this story, and looked further back in history. First known use in 1667, burlesque means comic, droll, in French. Most likely from the Italian burlesco, SA residents not afflicted with English mono-lingualism will hear the Spanish word burla: joke. Elizabethan playwrights like Thomas Dekker (1570-1632) wrote burlesques to parody social mores, and more often, as in his Satiromastix, society figures like competing writer (and sometimes ally) Ben Jonson. Fast-forward to the 1860s, when Lydia Thompson brought her British Blondes across the pond spoofing (once again) legit theater. She introduced a bit of erotic drag as well, with scantily dressed women in men's roles. America, the great meat grinder of traditions, threw another British import, the music hall, into the blend, along with homegrown minstrel shows and that everyman necessity — striptease.

A man doing striptease is — even given the now tiresome (and false) supposition that the audience is male — engaged in drag. SABF presents a twist on the British Blondes with a slightly different viewer in mind with Queertini Time, comprised of Shelby Mine and Eaton Johnson, a gender-bending couple on stage and in life who began performing in Austin's Kings N Things. At SABF they will perform a duet involving, says Johnson, baking.

Held in three venues over two days, the fest begins Friday at The Korova with a pin-up and car show, live music by Mr. Lewis and the Funeral 5 and the Flametrick Subs, a burlesque show featuring Ruby Lamb of Austin's The Jigglewatts Burlesque, and a salon-style fashion show featuring costumes by Jennifer Gonzalez, aka Jupiter Moon 3, the SA-based corset maker of international renown. Over a dozen performers, including SA's Zombie Bazaar Belly Dance, will be on hand during the night. Day two begins at Calle Ocho with Intro to Burlesque and Big Bad Boa, classes taught by festival headliner, founding member of Jigglewatts, and Headmistress of The Austin Academy of Burlesque, Coco Lectric, followed by Costuming 101 taught by Black Mariah of Dallas. The main event is The Saturday Night Spectacular at the Woodlawn Theatre, hosted by Camille Toe of the Pastie Pops and Foxxy Blue Orchid of Stars and Garters (Jump-Start Performance Company's Dino Foxx), who will guide the audience with comedic repartee through more than two dozen acts that span classic and Neo-Burlesque performance to the night's finales by past Queens of Burlesque Coco Lectric and Perle Noire.

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