Anyone paying a wee bit of attention to pop culture over the past few years can’t have helped but notice the renaissance of burlesque: the slinky demi-monde of fascinators and feather fans, tassels and teases has taken a brand of cheesecake glamour from retro-scene niche into the heart of the mainstream (see Kylie, Christina et al). Fronted by one of the neo-burlesque scene’s biggest stars, Immodesty Blaize, this doc offers a survey of the form’s history, conventions and current revival: there’s historical context from academics, ribald anecdotage from mid-century American veterans such as Satan’s Angel and Lily Anne Rose and testimony from current stars like Dirty Martini and Kitten De Ville about performer camaraderie, intensive production work and the uses of tradition. The extended sequences of Blaize and others in performance are often clumsily composed and the consideration of the form’s sexual politics and contemporary appeal remains, er, scanty. But overall, this is a solid if scattershot primer on a scene that seems here to stay.
Friday January 22 2010