Striptease Expertise

Jo Boobs Weldon Peeling at the Toronto Burlesque Festival
Above: Me stripping out of a red stocking at the Toronto Burlesque Festival.

I am incredibly passionate about striptease and the opportunties it provides and the demands it puts upon a performer. I believe that it is a sensational and radical way to think about communicating to viewers that can inform the stripteaser's self-presentation onstage and off. I think the combination of mischief and glamour with the earthiness of sensuality is a step forward in the evolution of self-realization and the acceptance of shamelessly individualized (as opposed to state-regulated) sexuality. I could (and at some point will) got on for hundreds of pages about this. I'm so serious about this kind of fun!

One of my favorite classes to teach is Striptease Expertise. Below is the content of the handout I share in the class, a set of tips that serve as reminders for the theories and techniques we explore as a group. It is not the full content of the class, just bullet points of key concepts.

Striptease Expertise

Striptease is about making the everyday act of removing clothing into a theatrical event. There has always been nudity onstage, but not until burlesque striptease was there a performing art specifically centered on clothing removal. The women who originally captured the public's imagination by stripping onstage were not necessarily trained dancers or actors, but were often improvising, basing the success of their movements and performance decisions not on an aesthetic or on what looked good in the mirror in a dance studio, but solely on audience response.

Stripteasers who use choreography often rely more on the Choreography of Events than dance choreography. Dropping a glove, for instance, is not a dance move, but an experienced stripteaser knows that if that glove hits the floor on the beat (or the drummer hits the beat for the drop, if live music is employed), the audience gets a bigger thrill. It is worth choreographing so that the glove hits the floor at the optimal point in the music, every time at the same time the performer does the number. So while there may be improvisation between Events, there are choreographed events.

The goal of many contemporary burlesque performances is to engage the audience with a combination of glamour and mischief, and sometimes story-telling or commentary, usually with some reference to the movements of professional stripteasers from the mid-twentieth century. Striptease is the most unique element of these performances. An inventive and knowing garment removal keeps them from texting during your performance. Understanding what makes a striptease compelling is an essential component of making your performance memorable.

Concepts for your Striptease Toolbox:

1. Make imaginary eye contact

2. Identify the sweet spots (laws are based on this)

3. Show them what you're showing them

4. Remember that there is only one camera

5. Let the viewer drink you in

6. Evoke the sense of touch

7. Let the viewer follow your hands

8. Think of yourself as moving toward a 3-d camera

9. Employ a referring glance

10. Your costume is your choreography

11. Make the most of your fasteners

12. Let them see the reveal

Above all, entertain yourself and have fun. A performer who is having fun gives the audience confidence in his/her performance, and there is nothing more irresistible than someone who is enjoying herself!

Copyright Jo Weldon

You can find a more detailed version of this in the print edition of the absolutely stunning magazine produced by 21st Century Burlesque, full of never-before-seen articles and photographs! Check out this stunning labor of love and get a copy for yourelf or your nearest and dearest burlesque aficiando. The quality and beauty of it is breathtaking!

21st Century Burlesque Print Edition


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