By: Chelsea Bass, Angela Buenrostro, Joanie Ferguson and Rachel Hill
When the average adult thinks of women who take off their clothes for a living, it often brings forth thoughts of poles and grungy dollar bills. These women use props too, but with a theme and flair. The Burlesque production Ink and a Smile, Saturday Jan. 25 at the North Door, featured a variety of experienced burlesque performers who used their tattoos to tell a story.
“They are experienced, high-quality performers,” event coordinator and founder of The Burlesquerie, Roxie Moxie said.
The theme for Ink and a Smile was developed by Roxie Moxie, which coincided with the annual tattoo revival being held that same weekend. Each of the 11 women who performed had different props related to their tattoos and the story they wanted to convey, which, for some, included aerial rings, ropes and lots of easily removable corsets. The emcee encouraged audience members to cheer whenever the women began to do anything provocative, mainly when they showed any skin as it is a burlesque tradition.
The performers went from a full costume, in conjunction with whatever theme they represented, to a G-string and pasties placed over their nipples, making them a thin strip of cloth away from being nude.
Burlesque shows have been around as early as the 17th century in Britain and eventually were picked up by Americans and revamped as American burlesque in New York. The American version differed from the English genre by focusing more on female nudity. It went from women showing just a little skin to a full strip tease.
Women who participate in burlesque in this day and age describe it as a form of empowerment for women while also having a strong feminist overtone. The average woman has the opportunity to partake in the rich history of burlesque in Austin in the Burlesque academy for beginners, and other local troupes such as Jigglewatts and Black Widow Burlesque, of which some of the dancers in Ink and a Smile were already members.
Although the art of burlesque is still considered provocative, those who attended Ink and a Smile couldn’t help but be pleasantly surprised by the eroticism mixed in with acrobatics and entertaining stories.