America is weird. On television and in films, it seems entirely more acceptable to show violence and murder than it is to show a naked body or consenting adults making love. Network stations will edit Kate Winslet's side boob in Titanic, but on CSI you can see a decomposing body in a bathtub be removed with a water pitcher. Now, this isn't an argument about whether said violence warps the minds of America's youth (short answer: If they can't tell fantasy from reality there are bigger problems than TV going on), but whether America's old-school Puritanical lizard brain is somehow still in control of our modern society.
Burlesque doesn't even remotely care about whether we are offended or titillated. Most burlesque dancers are artists, activists, writers, filmmakers, and dreamers who are comfortable in their own skin and using those skills to create a singular experience. They have made the act of taking their clothes off into an art form—a sexy and empowering art form.
TEASE is a burlesque review, bringing the finest burlesque performers from Portland to our doorstep. There will be beautiful men and women taking off their clothes in fun and interesting ways, but if this is offensive to you, there is sure to be a marathon of NCIS on one network or another.
In anticipation of TEASE's return to Bend, we chatted with Holly Dai, a Portland-based performer who will grace the Volcanic's stage with her dazzling disrobing. Dai is also headmistress of All that Glitters Burlesque Academy, as well as a producer of Papermoon Cabaret and the Oregon Burlesque Festival.
Source Weekly: How did you get involved with burlesque shows? Was it something you were always drawn to?
Holly Dai: I'm an internationally awarded performer and I have been performing burlesque since 2009. I was introduced by a friend in Seattle in 2008 who had me assist a show. After a year of being stage kitten I moved to Portland where no one was really doing too much burlesque and I felt like I was ready to give it a try.
SW: What appeals to you the most about it?
HD: Doing burlesque is like creating a whole new persona. I really love being glitz and glamor. I'm really drawn to the old-school Vegas showgirl and I try to create that with my classic numbers. I also make all of my costumes, and creating numbers to match fulfills my creative nature.
SW: What can someone who has never attended expect from the TEASE show? How does it differentiate itself from a typical burlesque show?
HD: Expect to have a fantastic time. It is a bit of striptease. But people don't remember THAT you stripped, they remember HOW. I'm also proud to say that two of the performers are my students, and the other recently joined me in a festival in New Zealand.
SW: Do you like the more modern style of burlesque? The edgier and more punk style, or are you drawn to the jazzier and softer side?
HD: The first that you mentioned is probably what is referred to more as neo burlesque. The latter being classic. I'm definitely more of a classic performer, I like to honor the traditional side. I also personally find that neo burlesque can be blasé. Putting on some lingerie and dancing to a punk song is not my cup of tea. I like to see more effort in every aspect, from the shoes, to the costume, to the hair, to the performance, and to the interaction with the audience. I have seen some fantastic neo performances. I think it uses all those aspects, but I think sometimes people get away with indifference more when they do neo burlesque.
SW: Where do you think the indifference comes from?
HD: Part of it is probably just being uneducated and seeing something vaguely before and thinking I can do it. I teach classes and have students who sometimes choose to do neo but they develop the concept more because I emphasize researching and not relying on props to connect. Again, not all neo is like that and this is only my personal opinion. I also think sometimes there's a disconnect on the reasons why people do things. If they're performing for themselves and as a way to build self-confidence, I think it translates as indifferent. When you perform for an audience and you love your audience, they will love you back and then you feel that self-confidence without acting arrogant.
TEASE Burlesque Revue
8 pm, Saturday, Jan. 9
Volcanic Theatre Pub, 70 SW Century Dr.