Saturday, February 20, 2010

Burlesque Chic

So I spent Saturday morning at a burlesque class taught by the Boston Babydolls, a local burlesque troupe.  (Oh, stop your tsk tsk tsking. I need to explore other careers just in case the whole law professor thing doesn't work out.)

Image Source: Fiona Stephenson via Spokes 'n Daggers

And let me get this out of the way now: I did NOT do this burlesque class "for" my husband.  (Why is it that anything slightly naughty or fun needs to be done "for" a guy?  Why not just because it's hilarious and awesome?)  In fact, when I told my husband I was doing this, his response was: "Why would you want to do that?"  Classic.

While learning to strip tastefully -- don't worry, we all wore leotards, so I didn't expose my lady bits to a bunch of strangers (yet) -- I realized a few things:

Dita Von Teese Image
  • I cannot shimmy.  The two key moves to burlesque is shimmying your boobs and hips.  Everyone else in the class seemed to have no difficulty shimmying their tatas and hoohaas.  I, however, looked like I had some weird tick.  Remember that episode of "Fresh Prince" when Will teaches Ashley how to act all crazy to scare off a bully?  Yeah, my shimmies were kind of like that.
  • Gloves taste gross.  And don't try to pull off white gloves with your mouth if you're wearing red lipstick.  Also, careful how you take off your gloves, because you might unsexily slap yourself in the eye.
  • There is a thin but significant line between burlesque and stripping: Hip gyrations with a subtly bent knee? Burlesque. Hip thrusting with your crotch at the level of your knee?  Stripping.  Awkward, sudden hip convulsions that look sort of like I'm trying to get rid of a wedgie?  Neither.  But that seems to be my signature move.
  • Burlesque, when done right (i.e., not when I'm doing it), is HOT. Our instructor was a pleasantly plump, middle-aged woman with cellulite.  But the way she teased the audience -- down to the way she elegantly used her fingers when peeling off her gloves or unbuttoning her shirt -- made me want to see more.  (Well, ok, not that much more.  Burlesque thankfully is, as she put it, more about the journey than the destination.  And let's just say it's good that the final stop is panties and pasties, and not ginatown.  I can't go there on a Saturday morning.)
  • The most revelatory thing about today's class, other than the fact that I have NO future in burlesque, is that I need more retro in my style -- the whole Bettie Page, Vargas Girls sort of thing. Sure, we can all go to Victoria's Secret and buy bubblegum-colored crotchless, ass-cheek-exposing fishnet thongs with "sexy" on the ass or whatever.  Blech.  But the old-timey sexiness of the pin-up girl is much more artful: it's in the gap between reality and imagination, in what's not available to the eye or to the touch, in the confidence of a certain posture, the flick of a wrist, the slight pout of the mouth.  And retro, pin-up lingerie . . . the kind that takes twice as long to take off than to put on . . . is totally in the service of that.  Sure, I'm never going to be a burlesque performer, but damn if I'm not going to learn to dress like one:
Image Source: What Katie Did
Old-fashioned stockings -- the kind that need to be held up with suspenders -- are a must.  Hot.

Image Source: Babygirl Boutique
Image Source:
Vintage-styled girdles, waist cinchers, and garter belts -- not the kind that have silly ruffles on the ass or are made of some flimsy, merely decorative material, but the kind that are cinching, high-waisted, and totally functional -- are way hot.

Image Source: Secrets in Lace
As are bullet bras and structured corsets.

Image Source: Bernie Dexter
Alright, fine.  Who am I kidding?  It's not like I'm going to wear a corset and garter belt under my "aspiring professor uniform" of sweatpants and ripped t-shirts.
Image Source: The Pin-up Files
But a girl can dream, right?


charms February 21, 2010 at 12:47 PM  

I'm so bummed I missed the class! I was on another work trip and didn't get back until late Friday night. If you go again, I'm game!

The Boston Babydolls February 22, 2010 at 7:02 AM  


Thanks for the kind words about the class. We had fun!

If you like the burlesque look, make sure to stop by The Great Burlesque Exposition's Vintage Fashion Fair on April 3 & 4 -- there's more than shopping; there are also a bunch of fun, drop-in classes, some great burlesque shows and more.

You can read about it at -- and don't forget to come and see us this Sunday night at OBERON! ( -- it's an AMAZING show.

violarulz/ducksandbooks February 22, 2010 at 1:26 PM  

I've never tried burlesque, but I'm a huge fan of belly dancing. My favorite videos are Bellydance for Beginners FitnessFusion, you can find 'em on Amazon or wherever you want, I think Jazz and Yoga are better than Buns and Pilates.

I'm glad to hear you like burlesque though, I think my bachelorette gals are planning on taking me to a strip tease class!

M and C February 22, 2010 at 3:41 PM  

I tried a Burlesque Belly Dancing class and loved it! It worked my abs and arms hard!

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