Several nights a week in New Orleans you can see burlesque shows that harken back to Bourbon Street’s heyday during the 1940s and ’50s, when glamorous burlesque clubs featuring sensual dancers dominated the street. The city’s top burlesque performers are some of our favorite local celebrities. There are even classes in New Orleans that teach aspiring burlesque beauties the art of the tease. Celebrating New Orleans’ love for burlesque is the annual New Orleans Burlesque Festival, which this year is Sept. 17-20.
The annual festival created by Rick Delaup, producer of the long-running show Bustout Burlesque features shows from locals and special out-of-town guests, and workshops and parties at locations in walking distance from each other in the French Quarter. Whether you’re just a fan or looking to get in on that bump-and-grind action yourself, here’s what you can expect each night of the fest.
Thursday, September 17
The fest opens with a meet-and-greet at Galatoire’s. Attendees will meet burlesque babes past and present with a chance to take a photo with 1960s Bourbon Street burlesque legend Rita Alexander, the “champagne girl.”
Friday, September 18
Get things started with a book signing at Octavia Books, where Leslie Zemeckis will read, sign, and discuss her new book “Goddess of Love Incarnate: The Life ofStripteuse Lili St. Cyr.” The signing starts at 2 p.m., giving you plenty of time to make it back downtown for a Burlesque Workshop at 5 p.m. That night it’s the main event, the crowning of the Queen of Burlesque at Harrah’s. Competitors perform to traditional jazz music and celebrity judges help crown the winner. Afterwards at the casino, the new queen holds court at a big celebration.
Saturday, September 19
Workshops continue at the AC Hotel: there’s “Pin-Up Styling” to perfect a retro look; “Twerkshop,” which incorporates exercises for a lean physique; and “Floor Play” about incorporating sensual floor work into routines.
Sunday, September 20
One more workshop, “Pastie Pops,” keeps your Sunday schedule light, all the more to enjoy a closing, tiki-themed party at Felipe’s Taqueria.
Visit the New Orleans Burlesque Festival website for more details.