It’s an American tradition often misunderstood and maligned, but there’s nothing wrong with burlesque.
Back in the days of vaudeville, it was a spectacle to be seen—all feather boas and bawdy humor, with exotic variety shows and striptease dances that leaned heavily on the tease.
Only after the advent of Playboy and adult entertainment did the “tease” lose out to the “strip” and burlesque become taboo. But that’s been changing in the past decade, as a new empowered generation of dancers and performers have taken burlesque back and revived its glory days—which is exactly what Eva D’Luscious is doing now in the North Bay.
A life-long dancer, D’Luscious discovered burlesque while living in San Francisco. Pioneering troupes in the ’90s like the Hubba Hubba Revue and L.A.’s Velvet Hammer brought back the glamour in full and left their mark on D’Luscious.
“There was a Tease-O-Rama [show] that I went to years ago in the City,” she says. “And just seeing the ladies up there, how much fun they were having and how clever they were in their acts, I decided when the time is right, I’m going to go do that.”
The mother of two now lives in Sebastopol, and began her burlesque career just five years ago. Her first lessons in burlesque came from legends like Satan’s Angel and Bombshell Betty. D’Luscious now teaches workshops herself and has performed everywhere from the Bay Area to Burning Man.
“It just hooked me,” says D’Luscious of her first foray into burlesque. “To go into a place where you’re so vulnerable and open but everybody’s cheering for you and supporting you—that’s what I try to pass along, too.”
Three years ago, she co-founded Cabaret de Caliente, producing burlesque events in cooperation with community-minded groups and venues around Sonoma County. Just this year, the group began its latest event series, at Christy’s on the Square in downtown Santa Rosa.
“I was trying to figure out, ‘What does Sonoma County like?’ and then I had this ‘a-ha’ moment, like ‘Oh, they like booze and food! Of course!'” says a laughing D’Luscious. “Specifically wine—and I like sparkling wine. And it goes so well with burlesque.”
On April 17, Cabaret de Caliente presents its new, disco-themed “Bubbly Burlesque” show at Christy’s on the Square, pairing local sparkling wines from Chandon with cupcakes from Cupcravery. D’Luscious serves as master of ceremonies.
“Bubbly Burlesque” joins a schedule of shows that also includes the “Solstice Seduction” revue at Hopmonk Sebastopol and the “Shake for Me” Led Zeppelin tribute.
In contrast to those who see burlesque as exploitive, D’Luscious believes it emboldens those who perform it. “We all create this atmosphere of encouragement, and I think that’s still kind of a revolutionary thing in our society.”