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The Gilded Serpent presents...

A Weekend of Burlesque in Old North Beach
September 27 - 29, 2002
San Francisco, CA
by Lynette, Susie and Sierra

Curious to learn if women were drawn to stripping for some of the same reasons they are drawn to bellydance, we participated in several events held at San Francisco's Tease-O-Rama, held September 27th through the 29th.. The Friday and Saturday night shows were held at the legendary Bimbos 365 Club. Workshops and Sunday's show were held at Broadway Studios, located on the same block as the old Casbah and Bagdad and 2 blocks from the former Condor, the country's most famous striptease landmark.

This workshop and show format, lasting the entire weekend - ala many bellydance events - was made even more enticing with classes in pastie making, twirling (no, not baton twirling), synchronized swimming and more. The shows consisted of traditional style burlesque striptease acts, baggy pants comedy routines and live music. Projected on the screen beside the stage were videos of exotic dancing since the 1940's. It was fascinating to see the multitudes of body types on film, as opposed to the mostly slim, smaller breasted body types of those on stage. The stripteases were very retro - similar to the audience, which was filled mostly with the rock-a-billy set. We didn't see any familiar faces from the bellydance community, although we did see a few Middle Eastern / sutanesque style costumes. We were also curious to know why all the strippers on stage wore pasties. Did this venue not have the proper permits for such nudity? Or was it a more stylist / philosophical decision?

The concept of Burlesque originated from the Chicago Worlds fair and the infamous Little Egypt and the "Hoochi Koochi". After the World Fair Tour ended. Little Egypt went on to establish her career by dancing in venues attended only by men; hence the beginnings of burlesque. Many other dancers followed in her style and name... Another famous dancer during this time was known as Mata Hari. There are many collectable and well know photos and postcards of her still in existence. Burlesque began to evolve quickly into a viable style of art and dance which contributed to the format of Vaudeville.

The highlight of the weekend was the question and answer forum with a panel of dancers from the '40's through the '80's. We were especially intrigued by Wild Cherry, who claimed to be influenced by Oriental dance. During a short set on stage, we were thrilled to see some familiar isolations and the "coffee grinder". She later told us that she was NOT influenced by bellydance, but Asian dance.

Prior to the show, the dancers were asked to fill out a questionnaire to be auctioned off to the audience. We bought Wild Cherry's:

TEASE-0-RAMA 2002-Wild Cherry
What led you to become a burlesque dancer?

How did you feel the first time you stripped?

How did you come up with your stage name?

What would you think about when you were taking it off on stage?

How did you spend your money during the pinnacle of your career?

Was there a special man in your life during this time?

What secret tip (make-up, wardrobe, lights, etc..) enhanced your act and appearance the most?

Name some of the burlesque dancers who influenced you, or whom you admired the most?

What was your most embarrassing moment on stage?

If you could change anything from the past, what would it be?

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