Burlesque | Bella Blue

image description

Photo Credit: Image taken by Tali Gafen

Contributors

With the drinks flowing and the cheers echoing throughout the AllWays Lounge & Theater, the outlandish Dirty Dime Peepshow neared its final bow. It was about 1:30 AM. The internationally recognized, Bella Blue stood on a black box in the center of the stage; her body adorned with nothing more than her pink pixie cut hair, her strappy heels, and a pair of shiny earrings. As she angled her sparkling body in the glow of the spotlight, glass vase of glitter in hand, a mischievous smirk flitted across her face. Bella Blue raised the vase and with one final flirtatious smile to the audience the glitter poured out to her chest creating a shimmering, silver waterfall as it ran down her body.
Her second Burlesque show of the night was finished. The earnings from the cover charge and tips would soon be sorted and Bella Blue would be free to go home to her two sons and relax. “Burlesque is not as rock n’ roll as one would think. It’s still my work. We get our stuff together, we go and do our show. And then we just want to go back home. Watch a movie or eat some food” Bella Blue clarified unabashedly. [1]

In a city known for excess and debauchery it is not surprising that New Orleans was once notorious for burlesque. Though not as plentiful today, there are still a slew of these sexy and sassy ladies giving their tassels a twirl as they take it all off. This type of striptease is not to be confused with stripping. [2]
“The main difference between burlesque and stripping,” Bella Blue quipped, “is about $900 dollars.” Stripping evolved from burlesque. “You can’t knock one without knocking the other.” The core distinction is the intention. Burlesque is about the tease; about drawing it out while drawing in the audience from a distance. [3] Overall, Burlesque is a provocative and comedic variety show. There are a range of styles, looks, and raunchiness. Not everyone is Dita Von Teese. Performances are injected with personality based on the artistic genius of the performer, while the boundaries are determined by location and typical audience. [4] When performing in tourist locations where many are new to the melee of New Orleans, the striptease ends in pasties and a g-string. But with productions like the Dirty Dime Peepshow, the burlesque performances are naked and in your face as they truly bare it all.

Born and raised in New Orleans, Bella Blue started dancing at three years old and continued studying ballet and modern into adulthood. At sixteen years old, she encountered her first burlesque performance at a Johnny Angel & The Swinging Demons show. This mesmerizing moment remained nothing but a cool experience, until a little while after Katrina. “Kind of universally it happened,” she claimed. One day, while on Johnny Angel’s Myspace page Bella Blue discovered other performers’ pages. Conversation began with one of the burlesque performers, leading her to audition for a Burlesque group show, Fleur de Tease. A show she would perform in for about six years as burlesque turned into a career. Nine years later and Bella Blue is a burlesque performer and producer, and the reigning headmistress of the New Orleans School of Burlesque. [5] She may teach Pure Barre classes part time, but the majority of her time is dedicated to the burlesque industry. [6]

A year after she started performing, she began teaching burlesque. And the following year she decided to “go full-time and make it work”. Using her autonomy, Bella Blue developed and promoted her brand and philosophy; glitter and pussy magic. Glitter – the very thing that cascaded down her body at the close of the Dirty Dime Peepshow – encompasses her Burlesque persona. But even sitting in CC’s coffee house, her makeup shimmered and her eyes twinkled as she described her philosophy as a celebration of sexual energy and creativity. “Pussy magic” she proudly explained, “is about drawing your creativity and inspiration from your pussy.” Regardless of gender identity, this philosophy views your artistic side as feminine and encourages you to connect and tap into that side – tap into your pussy – to enhance your creative process. [7]

Making it in the dance world is not easy. Even with higher education and training there is no guarantee. In New Orleans specifically, there are not really dance companies, Bella Blue pointed out. To make a living as a performing dancer, would mean saying goodbye to New Orleans. Burlesque is a different avenue. A way to dance and perform without the competitive strain of the professional dance world, but still with similar wages. However, a dance background is not required to for a career in burlesque. No experience is necessary; anybody can do it if they find the right people or place. “You could walk right into a bar right now and say you wanted to do a burlesque show and then you’d be doing a show. You’d have no idea what you were doing, but you’d figure it out.” [8] This industry requires that healthy sense of ego. A combination of confidence and humility, and a willingness to learn. There can be a slow night with an audience of four people, but it is still an audience. “Performance is about perspective” she declared. That slow night is still a chance to blow the audience away. Because there is no skillset this open and enthusiastic outlook, this pussy magic, is the main arsenal a burlesque dancer has. [9]

Works Cited

  • Blue, Bella. Interview by author. November 18, 2015.
  • “Cabaret/Burlesque Clubs.” New Orleans’ Official Guide. Accessed December 3, 2015. http://www.neworleansonline.com/neworleans/nightlife/burlesqueclubs.html.
  • Blue, Bella. Interview by author. November 18, 2015.
  • Blue, Bella. Interview by author. November 18, 2015.
  • “New Orleans School of Burlesque – Instruction by Bella Blue.” New Orleans School of Burlesque. Accessed December 3, 2015. http://www.nolaschoolofburlesque.com/.
  • Blue, Bella. Interview by author. November 18, 2015.
  • Blue, Bella. Interview by author. November 18, 2015.
  • Blue, Bella. Interview by author. November 18, 2015.
  • Blue, Bella. Interview by author. November 18, 2015.

This page was last modified on 03 December 2015, at 07:20