Asheville burlesque reveals humor and playfulness

Deb Au Naire Odditorium

Classic stripteasing also goes on, down to panties and pasties in their own shows and at times within broader vaudeville shows in town. Performers are of various ages, sizes, shapes and personalities. Typically a male dances, amidst a show of several women taking turns on stage.

Quite revealing is how many burlesque dancers say they like not merely to get out of their clothes to tease, but also out of their skin into pretend characters. Doing so can vent out feelings, and entertain crowds. Several dancers commended crowds for being festive but not luring, and for vocal support and sounding their appreciation of performers antics and moves.

Dixie Daggers is married with two young children. Her act last week was rather gentle-natured. But she said other times, she pretended to attack with a chainsaw and cut off limbs. She said that since dancing more aggressively, she has learned to be more assertive at home to a far lesser, safer degree of course.

Deb au Nare is also among dancers who are married, and say they act quite differently at home than on stage. Her burlesque persona is self-absorbed debonair, foul-mouthed and even obnoxious yet ever so playful.

Deb is comical in many routines. In her show Feb. 12 she dressed as a sailor, frolicked to Styxs rock hit Come Sail Away, and made her shark puppet doll seem to bite off her bra strap.

The goal is to find your character, develop it, and enjoy yourself out there, Deb said on that night, her 29th birthday. She quipped to the crowd that performing is a kick, and makes us feel better about ourselves. She looks like actress Kate Beckinsale.

Deb has been on the TV show Americas Got Talent, and headlined shows in New York and Toronto. She is known for her agile chair routine.

She and Queen April teach classes, in the Burlesque Academy of Asheville ( that debuted in early 2015. Both have danced burlesque professionally for a decade.

Deb, the headmistress, hosts weekly Risque Monday shows. They are now in the Odditorium. Admission is $10 for 21 and elder, $12 for ages 18-20. On Feb. 12, the review showcased four new graduates of her six-week introductory class on Sunday nights as well as four veteran dancers.

The next Burlesque 101 session on stage performance starts March 4, at a cost of $200 per pupil.

Bombastic lead instructor April teaches Sass and Advanced Sass classes, focusing on comedy and fetish. Silliness instigator April produces shows of Girly Girl Revue, Burlesque Burlesque Burlesque, Shellshock, and Geektastic: A Burlesque Revue.

Her 21-year-old son, the Prince of the Queen, won the amateur Pants Off Dance Off contest Feb. 12. He was among three from the audience who danced on stage. He said that was the first time he did so.

Ransom Rose put on her own burlesque show last week, with nine dancers Tuesday, Feb. 13 in The Sly Grog. She led off with a classic fan dance, and was also the closing act. The show was Blue Valentines Tom Waits Tribute and Burlesque, starting with a full set of Waits grisly songs by a tribute band. Keith Toybox Shubert hosted, and did puppet skits.

Roxie Rose Lemoan leads The Sultry Sirens Varietease Show Spectacular, Rockin Rosettes, and The Atomic Bombshell Squad. Sultry Sirens did a Valentease show Feb. 14, in The Block in Asheville, capping different burlesque troupes on three successive nights.

The Quiet Hurricane danced in that Sirens show. She and April are among more flamboyant dancers.

Roxie was in Roses show the night before. Lemoan also dances with Girly Girl Revue, and CherryBomb. Roxie incorporates rockabilly music, with an act devoted to Elvis Presley.

Last week on Tuesday, Roxie danced teasing a bearded man who went by Lumberjack. Another funny skit was on the prior night was by Raven Moonbeam. Her concept was her mate was reading the financial page and ignoring her overtures, until she draped her legs around him. He finally snapped to. Raven has a degree in comparative politics, from Sorbonne University in Paris, France.

The anti-valentine/romantic theme Feb. 13 was embodied by Nikita Kitani taking it to a blown-up male doll. She later explained she was portraying a formerly docile woman turning the tables, becoming dominant. She ended up plastering her red wig onto the doll, to signal he was subservient and she owned him.

Also using a complying prop Feb. 13, Wendy Clear did a lap dance for a skeleton. She practiced the bit for a month, as one of Debs students.

A major area burlesque event is ABSfest (Americana Burlesque & Sideshow Festival), May 25-27 in the Grey Eagle Music Hall in Asheville. The festival, in its 12th year, is put on by Lauren Madame Onca OLeary. She taught tribal belly dancing in the Future of Tradition studio in Asheville for years, starting in 1999. Onca said ABSfest displays art, skill, wit and humor of burlesque, circus arts and vaudeville.

The four new grads did routines Feb. 12 each lasting up to five minutes. They varied in style, look and moves. They had seen each others acts, while practicing them in class for weeks.

Stella Brett has belly danced for three years. She said a shimmy shake is among transferable skills and dance moves in burlesque. Litha Lovecraft did gypsy-like whirls. Dancers shed clothes and props, which the stage kitten collected.

Some grads visually told stories, miming to piped-in music. Dancers do not speak. Burlesque means not only striptease, but also absurd parody. Brett acted as if in the morning after, was getting up and ended up getting dressed. She danced to a heavy metal tune.

Ophelia Tulips acted as if freshly out of a shower, with a towel and robe around her. She later revealed tassels on her pasties, and athletically shook and twirled them around and about whil grinning.

Bettie Rage led off the four grads. Her favorite moment in her routine was shedding her skirt, to proudly reveal the corset she rhinestoned up. Rage, 20, tries to be creative with moves. Her facial expressions looked mature. She studied theater in Enka High.

She said she felt no jitters during her routine, as adrenalin kept her going. Its a rush. The nerves arent there until its over.

Stage name Bettie Rage is not about angry rage. Rather, Rage is a rhyming takeoff on Bettie Page, famed exotic dancer and pinup in the Fifties. Page was Playboys Miss January, in 55. Rage works in a local salon. Her black bangs resemble Pages hair, in a further tribute to a decades-long craft now flourishing in Asheville.

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