While most people think of Dita Von Teese or that lackluster Christina Aguilera movie when they hear the word “burlesque,” women of color have a rich history and presence in the art form. Since the late 19th century, women of color in the United States have been creating burlesque variety shows that offer satirical commentary on American racism and gender roles. (The word “burlesque” comes from the Italian word burla, which means “joke.”) This (segregated) tradition lasted into the 1960s and ’70s until club owners asked dancers to flirt with male audience members to encourage liquor sales. Burlesque was replaced by today’s strip clubs until the 1990s, when a “neo-burlesque” revival returned to its roots in satire while uplifting body positivity and autonomy with a whole lot of glitter.
Now women of color—particularly queer women of color—are major players in New York City’s burlesque scene. Ten years ago you’d be hard-pressed to find any women of color on stage in America’s “melting pot,” but now there are shows dedicated to celebrating people of color and/or queer folks. Here’s some of the best and bawdiest burlesque shows in the Big Apple.
Check out the list and read the rest at On She Goes!