The room was dark and the lights were set on the stage for Algonquin’s first burlesque show to take place at the Observatory on March 23.
“For me about it’s about entertainment and empowerment in one gesture,” said Miss Helvetica Bold, a performer, teacher, event host and 10-year veteran in the burlesque community.
The show included acts by several Canadian performers who have participated in Pride events, and Burlesque festivals throughout their careers.
For the performers, burlesque is a celebration of nudity and the body; it’s a way to have fun and express themselves.
“Men and women, more often than not it’s women, are shamed for when we want to express our sexuality,” said Betty Bright-Eyes, who has been doing burlesque for just over two years. And declares herself a recent graduate in Walking in Heels 101.
“Sexuality shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing, we should be proud of our bodies,” she added.
According to Bold, being naked is seen, in our society, as a very vulnerable thing.
“So to take a vulnerable act and present it in an empowering way is very infectious,” she added. “I think that’s what keeps audiences coming back.”
Don Jovi was the only male performer of the evening. He has been doing burlesque for just over a year, which began as a fun, creative outlet that allowed him to be an entertainer.
“For guys it’s a little bit different. It’s hard to find an avenue where men can be sexy. Either we have to be tough, or we’re locked into certain stereotypes of masculinity, so with burlesque, you can pretty much do anything.”
Jovi has begun exploring other facets of burlesque to push the envelope on male sexuality.
“Burlesque allows me to explore a whole bunch of avenues,” said Jovi. “And experiment with what are the limits of manliness and then how I can cross those limits.”
After the show, Bold was very happy with the positive energy in the room.
“This was our first time here,” she said with a smile. “But hopefully won’t be the last.”