Burlesque is one of the growing cultural trends in nightlife. The rise of this historical culture into mainstream consciousness offers creative opportunities in fashion, interior design, cocktails and dance. I caught up with one of the prominent members of the burlesque community to discuss the cultural impact and direction of burlesque in New York nightlife.
NCI: Why do you think burlesque has been gaining so much more popularity in New York in the past few years? What is driving that?
KSR: There are quite a few pop cultural trends that are feeding an interest in burlesque now. A few years back there was the Burlesque movie Christina Aguilera was in with Cher. Shows on cable like Boardwalk Empire followed after that and there has been a steady increase of prohibition style speakeasies and cocktail lounges in major cities. All of that has a positive effect on the interest in burlesque. At this point, there is basically a burlesque show going on every night in New York City.
NCI: Do you feel that more men or women come to your shows? What is the difference between the way men and women watch your performances?
KSR: When I look out at the audience now, I see a lot of couples coming to the shows. I think there is a something that both men and women get from burlesque that makes it easy for them to come out together. The women are attracted to the glamour, the costumes and the overall spectacle...
NCI: And what are the men attracted to?
KSR: Men like boobs. It’s really not that complicated for them.
NCI: Point taken. Are more minorities getting into burlesque? Are more minorities coming to the shows? Why?
KSR: The shows are becoming more diverse as the popularity of the art form grows. Entertainment is a business after all and a venue will decide to bring in different types of girls to fit with the patrons they have or want to have. I’d like to think that I am selected for shows because of my talent, but I’m sure that there have been more than a few shows where I was selected because I attract a certain demographic. When I produce Rhinestone Follies I try to create shows that have body and race diversity, both to show the wide range of burlesque as well as attract the largest audience possible.
NCI: Where do you see burlesque performances going in the next 3-5 years?
KSR: I hope that it’s not a fad that fades out over time. You can see a lot of burlesque culture becoming mainstream in terms of its impact on fashion and general entertainment and that needs to continue. Nightlife culture can always benefit from expression that celebrates female sexuality in ways that are positive and artistic and burlesque offers that to people. It has a long tradition that more people would appreciate if they took the opportunity to enjoy it.