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Monday, November 8, 2010

Burlesque and Aerialists at The Savoy in SB

So, I went to my very first burlesque show over the weekend for a friend's birthday. The show was pretty impressive considering I got there early and there wasn't a cover charge, tickets or anything. The performers (all white, slender women, of course) would do a 5-10 minute performance every half hour or so, alternating between burlesque, aerial stunts, and contortionism (?). Having never seen ANY such performances live before, I was in awe at their skill and bravery. The bar where they perform has been totally remodeled with beautiful leather booths and a swanky aesthetic that fits with the retro-cabaret vibe. The only part we (myself and the birthday guests) didn't like was the damn MC! He was supposed to provide the comic backdrop to the uber-sexiness of the performers, in his mime face paint and spandex pants, complete with a grating faux french accent. The worst thing about him, though, was the fact that he would sexually harass audience and performer alike in the name of a laugh; gotta love shameless objectification! Here I was thinking that burlesque was about strong women expressing sexuality and agency, but I suppose the people in charge couldn't resist throwing in some sexism, you know to appeal to "ALL"* their bar patrons. And of course, there was the whole male-sexuality-is-funny / female-sexuality-is-sexy dynamic going on.

We all decided that perhaps a female MC would have been better, maybe somehow made the whole show more feminist... but I could easily see a female MC pandering to the straight men in the audience, perhaps even trying to rival the guys in objectifying the female performers. It wouldn't be the first time... I think that a butch woman or a transwoman might balance things out, or maybe a gay man who ISN'T a sexist asshole (jury is out on the sexual orientation of the current MC). Too bad, because a club like that could REALLY tap into the queer/feminist community of SB, we need a space of our own now more than ever. I don't know if I'll ever patronize The Savoy again, is the performance worth putting up with a heavy dose of sexism every 30 minutes?

*conveniently forgetting that straight men aren't actually the only people who frequent this bar

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