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Burlesque Zombie Feminism Like a Boss

March 13, 2014

Las Vegas Weekly: “A new wave of burlesque is heating up Las Vegas (with zombies! and fire!)” by Jacob Coakley:

Katie Kenner is the director of Twisted Cherry Burlesque, a monthly burlesque revue that takes place at Onyx Theatre, and she has some strong words for anyone trying to draw a line in the sand. “Ladies in the burlesque community, every show that comes up that has the word ‘burlesque’ or ‘pinup’ or anything like that in it, they’re like, ‘That’s not real burlesque!’ And it’s like, hold up, what gives you the right to say that’s burlesque or not? Because they didn’t pick you to perform, that’s not really burlesque? Have you seen Zombie Burlesque? That’s frickin’ great!”

Zombie Burlesque is the brainchild of Las Vegas native David Saxe, the magnate behind the V Theater and Saxe Theater at Planet Hollywood.

Saxe claims to have polled the passengers of an airplane about whether it should be “Zombie Cabaret”, “Zombie Follies” or “Zombie Burlesque” and the latter won overwhelmingly.

The two words fit well together because they both are ambiguous words conveying more of a theme than an actual definition. And they also fit around feminist themes:

Scott, the host of Zombie Burlesque and a performer in other burlesque (and “boylesque”) shows around town, isn’t afraid to get high-minded about the gender politics behind burlesque.

“In burlesque, the performer is always looking at the audience,” Scott says, “bringing the audience in, challenging the audience.” This dynamic flips the traditional power structure in entertainment, transforming the performer from an object to be ogled into a person with agency, returning the “male gaze.”

“It’s feminine and subversive and powerful,” Scott says.

Wax agrees. “There’s something innately transgressive about women taking control over their own bodies and their presentation and being willing to go onstage and not just take their clothes off but to embody these sexually powerful roles that they take on. To be not insecure. That is already transgressive.”

Recall similarly, Zombie Tango in Argentina.

Speaking of feminism, see NYTimes oped “Bossy Pants?” by Charles M. Blow:

We hyper-sexualize little girls and juvenilize grown women. Both genuine youth and seasoned maturity are sacrificed to that altar.

This is a societal disease.

And it’s no better for little boys, who are constantly admonished to suck it up, toughen up, don’t cry, be a man, and don’t run, hit or kick like a girl. We plant seeds of misogyny, often without being aware of it, while our boys are still sprouts. And then we wonder why so many men are emotionally suppressed and stunted. It’s because we’ve been telling them all their lives that emotions were effeminate and femininity was a curse.

We build zombie men and lament the dearth of “real” ones.

zombie charles blow nytimes

Blow’s piece is about Sheryl Sandberg’s:

campaign to ban the word “bossy,” so as not to discourage women from being assertive

Maybe we could ban the word “zombie” too?

So “bossy” is bad for little girls? Recall, SNL‘s Andy Samberg’s (no relation – different spelling!) Lonely Island’s “Like a Boss

Is being “bossy” different than being “like a boss”? Would Sheryl Sandberg’s ban-bossy campaign make more sense if it was ban-bitchy?

Did she maybe not want to say “bitchy” and so changed it to “bossy” and now many people don’t understand the euphemism? All the “what’s wrong with being bossy” is probably helping drive awareness of the campaign, but is that really the right word for the problem?

Being bossy implies more than attempting to delegate, it’s the way it’s delegated, the tone. This is an issue of authority which is essential to the zombie question: what is an author?

In the animated gif above, from Know Your Meme entry about ‘Like a Boss’, Pinocchio leaning back, feet on desk, puffing a big cigar. Pinocchio is a puppet who wants to be a real boy (consider relation to free will and lies)

Bruno Latour explains that the puppet is most free when it is most tightly bound, cut the strings and the puppet falls lifeless. But the puppet master does not boss the puppet around, they work together to imbue life into the inanimate.

Blow concludes:

Condemning artists for being provocative when politicians have proven either impotent or regressive is a tired sleight of hand… Girls must be given safe space to be assertive and boys to be vulnerable without feeling that they have failed a test of gender normativity. We must teach everyone to honor themselves fully — including their sexual selves

Quite obviously, the answer is more zombie burlesque.


From → free expression

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