More than just a pretty face, the Montreal Burlesque Festival gets bigger and better in all the right places
When you’re known for taking it all off, how much further can you really go? The Montreal Burlesque Festival stripped down for the first time last year, but its X-ray vision for the future saw an even bigger, fancier lineup. This year there’s a sense of lineage and building on what’s been established, with many performers invited back again and greater sponsorship from the community.
The 2010 festival features three full nights of entertainment: a Canadian showcase on Thursday night, a Friday night international showcase and a gala night on Saturday. But, being a festival, there’s more: workshops with the stars, a fashion show, nightly after-parties and a Dr. Sketchy drawing session with a featured performer, as well as a delightful Sunday brunch.
With burlesque events around town throughout the year, coupled with the success of last year’s fest and the Grand Burlesque Show last March, Montreal is carving itself a place on the North American burlesque festival circuit. In addition to giving more exposure to today’s burlesque stars, the festival promotes the antics of new performers and sets budding careers in new directions.
"Last year’s festival allowed me to open so many new doors and enjoy such rich projects," said BonBon Bombay, a dancer from Vancouver who is back again this year, performing in two shows. "It was a great venue to showcase my work."
Of course, at the heart of burlesque is watching beautiful women stripping down to their pasties and G-strings. There will indeed be plenty of that, but this year’s festival lineup has gotten more diverse: vocal enchanteuse Dimie Cat brings her retro-style crooning to Montreal from Paris, while boylesque performers Jett Adore and Joe Bazuka stretch concepts of who is fit to strip.
Another highlight is an appearance by living legends of burlesque, April March and Satan’s Angel, who achieved international notoriety for twirling fire in place of tassels – fire!
It’s not only the festival that impresses the performers, but Montreal itself is becoming a draw. "Montreal is full of culture," says Japanese burlesque performer Cherry Typhoon. "That’s the first and biggest reason why I am interested in this beautiful city. I love the attitude of people who enjoy music, art, drama and festivals!"
There’s another element of Montreal life that keeps the international performers coming back for more. "The poutine!" exclaims Gentry de Paris, from France, who was here in March for the Grand Burlesque Show. "There’s something magically delicious about the mix of deep-fried carbohydrates drenched in gravy and topped in rubbery cheese. I ate it every day during my last visit."
Montreal Burlesque Festival
At Club Soda (1225 St-Laurent), Sept. 23-26