I’ve always had trouble finding a medium between two sides of myself. There’s the curious, aspiring fashionista with an unhealthy obsession with vintage dresses. This a relatively new side of me sparked by when I started working in retail. Before, I was content with band hoodies and that same pair of jeans I’ve had since freshman year. Which brings me to the other side, the girl who is insanely competitive at video games and absolutely adores graphic novels and comics. She knows more Star Wars characters then designer labels. The only problem I had when figuring out my personal style was how to feel sexy and fashionable when I’ve spent my entire life as a geek chick.
When I first heard about A Nude Hope: A Star Wars Burlesque, I was ecstatic! I thought whoever came up with this idea was completely genius! As soon as you take your seats inside Gorilla Tango Theatre, where A Nude Hope is running, you find yourself inside a small, intimate theater with a girl in a Star Wars T-shirt singing an ode to Princess Leia. Then the performers come out in creative, sexy outfits, putting their own twist on the original trilogy accompanied by disco beats.
The girls of A Nude Hope have confidence in their bodies and talent, captivating a crowd who might not have imagined characters such as Chewbacca and Obi Wan Kenobi looking that good. The less is more feel of burlesque has intrigued crowds of all ages around Chicago. With Gorilla Tango conveniently being located in Bucktown, geek chicks like myself can pick up the latest The Walking Dead comic from Brainstorm and be just minutes away from the theater. “Geek-lesque” is a way for girls to gain self esteem while staying true to who they really are. We wear glasses, we quote Lord Of The Rings, and we look great in fishnets and pumps!
So, what is burlesque? From spending my weekend nights at two different shows, in my opinion it’s a variety show. Most of the acts are striptease based with comic relief and creativity. Being a devote vintage/thrift store shopper, I love the style and nostalgia of cabarets. I’ve always admired Betty Page’s unique look that inspired so many women. So, I ventured right outside the border of Wicker Park/Bucktown to The Exit to see my friend perform for Vaudezilla. The women for the most part resemble pin ups and flappers. The detail of these classic outfits are eye catching to say the least, mixed with the choreographed routines as they strip them off.
There’s also more modernized acts set to pop and rock songs of this and the past couple decades. I asked Mia D. Vine, a Vaudezilla performer and friend, if the performers bring their own individual personalities in their acts. “Absolutely!” Mia says, “Vaudezilla is famous for being quirky, because we all have such big personalities. So of course! It also helps that we all come from different artistic backgrounds. Some specialize in dancing, singing or acting. Personally I come from an acting background, so that style always shines through in my acts.” And it her acting background shows as she pretends to be a homeless person (with a surprisingly chic fashion sense) with a sign reading “Will Dance 4 food,” set to the music of White Stripes.
Its yet another take on the burlesque movement with a heavy emphasis on individuality and being comfortable in your own skin. “The most important thing a lady can gain from burlesque is a sense of confidence,” says Red Hot Annie, one of the founders of Vaudezilla, “Performers who exude confidence in their performance are contagious - if we can get up on stage, be truly entertaining when we shake our money makers, and women in the crowd can walk away feeling positive, thinking things like ‘I have that body, too’ or ‘I have that sense of humor, too,’ or ‘I think that’s sexy, too,’ then I think it’s been a really worthwhile exchange!” And being just a short walk down North Avenue, their shows at the Exit are accesible to Wicker Park residents. You can be surrounded by sequins and boas in this grungy, punk bar the last Friday of every month.
So did burlesque help bring peace between the two sides of me? Of course! I feel so empowered by both the show at Gorilla Tango Theater and by the lovely ladies (and the few gentlemen performers too) of Vaudezilla. Geek girls can be confident in their bodies. There is no unwritten rule that says you can’t be sexy and still beat every level of Super Mario Bros. And the ore I watch the girls shake their flapper dresses, the more I wanna comb the racks of the vintage stores up and down Milwaukee. Burlesque is a trend I hope people in my Wicker Park and Bucktown communities catch on to, and continues getting more popular for a long time to come.
A Nude Hope: A Star Wars Burlesque is now over, having finished its run. However, Boobs of Khan: A Star Trek Burlesque is just around the corner, opening Fri. Sept. 9 and running at GTT on Fridays at 9:30PM, from Sept. 9-Oct. 28, 2011. correction/update: see comment… a Nude Hope runs every Saturday at 9:30PM through Nov. 2011
“Boobs Of Khan: A Star Trek Burlesque” has the following production team:
Caitlin Costello (Director) is a graduate of DePaul University, the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), and the Second City Conservatory. She is the only female member of the sketch group The Nerdologues.
The Nerdologues (Playwright) are called “inspired” by the Chicago Tribune, as well as “self aware, self-deprecating fan-boys.”
Honey Halfpint (Choreographer) is a member of Michelle L’amour’s Chicago Starlets and has performed throughout Chicago.
BOOBS OF KHAN: A STAR TREK BURLESQUE features: Alexa Luthor, Baby Davis, Bella Canto, Diva La Vida, Ellie Gator, Sadie Hotkins, Stella Cheeks, and Zabrina Zorelle.