A long-running showcase of Australia’s most glamorous and alluring burlesque performers has changed its name to reflect the diversity of the performers drawn to the art of the tease.
The Australian burlesque competition, previously split under the two titles of Miss Burlesque and Mr Boylesque, has been merged into one and renamed as Mx Burlesque.
Executive producer Melanie Piantoni, who performs as A’dora Derriere, said the change was needed because many non-binary performers did not identify with the Miss or Mr titles.
“They were a non-binary person and they’d been wanting to do this competition for many years, they just weren’t sure which competition to enter.”
The contest to crown the best in burlesque started as Miss Burlesque in about 2009.
Breaking down barriers
Mr Boylesque followed soon after, and the two competitions have been running in multiple states across Australia.
Although the competition has always been open to non-binary people, Ms Piantoni said the titles could be a barrier to some performers.
Circus performer and burlesque artist Matthew Pope said he would be among the Perth state finalists at the Astor Theater in Mt Lawley on Saturday.
He said the new name provided the freedom to perform without constraints.
“I always kind of played with gender anyway … so when I looked at Mr Boylesque, I was a little bit like, ‘Oh, do I wear a dress, or do I not?’ and a little bit confused,” Mr Pope said.
“Now that it’s open there’s a lot more free-range for everyone to do whatever they want and express themselves.”
The new competition will allow the winner to choose their title of Miss, Mr or Mx Burlesque.
Resurgence and evolution
Ms Piantoni said the nature of burlesque had evolved in recent years.
Typically a style of provocative dance which dated back to the late 19th century, burlesque lost its mainstream prominence as full nudity became increasingly commonplace by the 1970s.
Ms Piantoni said a resurgence of the art of burlesque began in America in the 1990s and spread to Australia in the early 2000s.
She said vintage-inspired performances were often modeled around pin-ups of the 1940s and ’50s.
“Drag artists, we have circus performers, we have performance artists, we have dancers. Really diverse styles.”
She said more acts now used modern music or styles, making the current incarnations of burlesque edgy and exciting.
Mr Pope described his performances as dark and non-traditional.
“I am definitely not a classic burlesque performer … and I’ve got some pretty exciting things planned,” he said.
“A lot of high avant-garde fashion. Some really intense music soundtracks.”
Mr Pope will compete for the Western Australian Mx Burlesque crown against eight other artists: Amelia Kisses, Autumn Daze, Chloe The Cocaine, Coco Fatale, Delza Skye, Foxxxy Curves, Lolly Moon and Miss Lady Lace.
Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and the ACT will hold their own Mx Burlesque events.
Mr Pope said he was excited his first attempt at winning the WA crown would be alongside a broader range of performers who were not categorized by gender.
“With the name change, it [allows] more people of all different gender expressions and identity, to maybe feel a little bit more confident and comfortable competing and bringing their art to a big community,” he said.
“I’m just excited to see where it goes from here.”