Burlesque and the ideals and motivations behind it have become more of an interesting discussion point, especially in the recent memory. There is sometimes debate of what is considered sexually repressive, sexually free or simply fun and a statement of self confidence and self esteem. Every person is different and every person has a reason to do burlesque. It is certainly not relegated to simply female although that for the most part makes up the majority of the performers of burlesque. It is about performance art but also titillation. It is also a way to examine sexual fantasy in a controlled environment. Previously, Fest Track did a piece on “Play Me Burlesque” out of the Coney Island Film Festival, which covered much of the same ground as “Getting Naked: A Burlesque Story” [Documentaries].
However the inherent emotional connection explored in the latter film definitely plays to the core of what burlesque is about. It examines a similar arena in New York but takes an even more interesting element within the tiers of competition and reasoning. This is done by showing a diverse cross section of performers. “Play Me Burlesque” did similar but different performers have different stories. Here Hazel Honeysuckle in real life is more of a homebody, a slightly more geeky girl that has started to play dress up and found an outlet for a willing audience (so much so that she got a residency at the Borgata in Atlantic City). She is young and vivacious with a talent for costumes. But there is also the Schlep Sisters who are a bit older and playing smaller clubs in New Jersey. It is not as glamorous but they enjoy it. But like all human beings, each person has obstacles to overcome. James Lester, as a director does not shy away from that reality and, as a result, gives a intrinsic sense of the performers personalities and both their strengths and shortcomings.
By Tim Wassberg