Corsets, Stockings, Pasties: Femininity in New Burlesque

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The birth of “new burlesque” (descending from the Anglo-Saxon tradition of female burlesque) in the late twentieth century has raised burning questions about objectifying and emancipatory properties of the genre, which simultaneously defines the artist-stripper as object and subject. It should be noted that the mere fact of (re)occurrence of a cultural performance focused on the female body indicates the public’s need for working through the problematic nature of this body, and thus, contemporary definitions of gender and sexuality. The article explores how and by what theatrical means “femininity” is performed and experienced both on new burlesque’s stage and in the audience, considering that new burlesque is identified as a “metasocial commentary” to current gender paradigm. The genre’s historical trajectory is analysed, as well as contemporary trends co-existing within the genre. Furthermore, the article examines relation between performers and audience, and new burlesque’s interplay with women’s stereotypes and accessories of traditionally defined “femininity”.

Keywords: burlesque, camp, femininity, feminism, striptease

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