Peek inside the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekender

Current Miss Exotic World Medianoche performs in the Tournament of Tease.
Photo: Don Spiro / Courtesy

Get your tassels twirling, because the glittery, glamorous annual fundraiser for the Burlesque Hall of Fame (BHOF) is back. The four-day weekend of performances, education and socializing includes community classes, a burlesque bazaar, mixers and cocktail hours, autograph signings, bowling, a “Texas Tease ’Em” poker tournament, a pool party and more.

“There’s a sense, I think, that burlesque is old-fashioned and kind of quaint, and one thing you see at the Weekender and at the museum is that it’s anything but,” says Dustin M. Wax, BHOF executive director. “We bring around 80 to 100 acts to the stage every year, and there’s always something new and unexpected.”

Each evening will be dedicated to a different burlesque showcase. The Movers, Shakers and Innovators Showcase (May 31) is all about the cutting-edge future of burlesque. Billed as the “heart-and-soul of BHOF,” the 61st Annual Titans of Tease Reunion Showcase (June 1) honors the legends of burlesque. Now in its 28th year, the Tournament of Tease

(June 2) lets the best in burlesque compete; it ends with the crowning of Miss Exotic World 2018. The weekender concludes on June 3 with the Icons & All-Stars Showcase.

Performer and BHOF board member Melody Sweets, who originated the role of the Green Fairy in Absinthe, sounds excited to guest-perform in the Tournament of Tease. “It’s the world’s sexiest fundraiser for the world’s sexiest museum,” she says. “It’s a bling-bling situation! I’m a sucker for sparkly things.”

The big news for this year is that a permanent Burlesque Hall of Fame museum has finally opened in the Arts District. “Decades of work and fundraising and dedication and persistence by scores of people have at last culminated in a real, curated, climate-controlled, legitimate museum,” says Miss Blanche DeBris, a Las Vegas-based burlesque performer who will co-host the Tournament of Tease. “It’s here, it’s finally here.”

“No matter how I try, I can’t ever truly describe the magic of the BHOF Weekender fully,” DeBris says. “I tell people, just come and watch everyone as they are lining up to get into the Showroom each night. The spectacular outfits, the genuine love and joy that shimmers through the air. We get to live in this happy bubble, the Glitter Tribe, for four, five days. When it’s all over, we all have ‘glitter crash,’ where returning to normal life is just depressing.”

If you’re new to the burlesque world and curious to check it out, consider buying an individual ticket to a showcase instead of a full weekend pass. Last year, the Weekender sold out, but organizers held a few tickets at the physical box office for interested locals. While an army of glamazons might seem intimidating, Wax says the opposite is true.

“Burlesque has a long history of accepting misfits and outcasts, and to this day burlesque has an ethos of radical acceptance,” Wax says. “The only advice I can think of is, ask questions. Burlesque people tend to be pretty well-educated and know a lot about burlesque history and other performers and are all too happy to share what they know.”

BURLESQUE HALL OF FAME WEEKENDER May 31-June 3, prices vary. The Orleans, bhofweekend.com.

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