Ten years ago I saw The Burlesque Hour in the Famous Spiegeltent on St Kilda Road. Moira Finucane, Azaria Universe and Umi Umiumare (and the Town Bikes); I was blown away and I still haven’t seen anything like it. Many try, and are bloody wonderful, but they don’t find that bit of me that says ‘thank you’.
Finucane and Smith’s Glory Box, as it was renamed, has toured the world but never misses a home season. This year, it opens the super-gorgeous Melba Spiegeltent in Circus Oz’s new home in Collingwood – and it feels like it’s come home.
Burlesque and strip. There’s always been some female-positive acts, but mostly these performances were (and still are) created to be seen by male eyes and leave the performing woman in the position of an object to be enjoyed by the watcher. Like so many of us, Jackie Smith and Moira Finucane see women through better eyes, so they devised work that that doesn’t just subvert that image, but smashes it to pieces and recreates it as something exciting, welcoming and celebratory.
This is burlesque that artists love performing and are doing so to share the experience with their audience.
This is strip that embodies feminism without the need to repress those parts of the feminine that can be ignored, rejected, criticised or fetishised.
This is feminist art that embraces the diversity of the sexual feminine, be she masculine, frilly, wild, angry, sassy, despairing, bejewelled, saucy, sad, prudish, glittery or quiet.
This is art where power and desire have no hint of negativity.
These are people who see nudity without shame or irony.
These are audiences who welcome bodies of all shapes and ages.
Here is subversive, queer, feminist art that didn’t give a hoot if you’re straight, conservative or “I’m-not-a-feminist-but”.
And it’s hilarious, sexy and outrageously glorious.
So, thank you!
Over the years, Moira and Jackie have welcomed some of the most amazing guest artists and helped many others to find their voices and their passion. Some are special guests during the season, which makes it hard to choose just one night to go!
Our guests were the magnificent Maude Davey, amazing flyer Roxie Stone, and the seriously sensational Emma J Hawkins whose broken doll strip sums up everything the Glory Box is about.
And every night there’s Moira, Yumi, Azaria, Holly Durant and, new to the box, the magnificent songstress and siren Saint Clare.
It’s a best of show, so expect favourites including Moira’s “I Touch Myself” and Azaria’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”: two pieces that they have to keep doing for as long as they can stand.
If somehow over the last ten years you haven’t seen this show, there’s no more excuses. The sparkling wine at the bar is excellent, it’s not that hard to park, it’s near tram stops and I promise that you’ll leave happy and proud of being exactly who you are.