The Blackheart Burlesque where suicidal onesies bump, jump and grind to Die Antwoord.

Suicide Girls : Blackheart Burlesque. London 2015

Suciide Girls

Cattled into the pumping rock temple Electric Ballroom, furtive shapes darted about the pre-show gloom, spilling beer and trying to grab a seat.

Five girls strode onto the stage dressed in animal onesies, bumping, jumping and grinding away to Die Antwoord. As the beat dropped hoods were thrown back revealing heavy eyeliner, bared breasts and cheeky sneers. Blackheart Burlesque had begun.

Looking around at the faces in the adoring audience, the image of tattooed rock’n’rollers swilling bottles of Jack and Jim in some Dusk-till-Coyote Ugly daggers, drugs and drums epic faded into the footlights. The reality was altogether less idealised and far more curious.

while the majority of the men

in the audience quietly beamed,

the girls in the audience

hooted and hollered

From my vantage point well over 70% of the audience were girls, women, wymyn, and even ladies. The men in attendance seemed more of the cosplaying Star Wars e-gen type than rockers per se. There was also a hijab worn without irony, which engendered a celebratory pride. The attacks in Paris at the Charlie Hebdo office a few days earlier place any Muslim accoutrements within a larger discourse, and that a Muslim woman could enjoy burlesque in the UK felt comforting.

A win for the multiplicities within individual choice and all sorts of liberal ideals around freedom of expression, tolerance, and the right to try wrong stuff.

‘Who here likes tits?!’

The compere shouted, to responsive and high-octave cheers. As the show progressed the argument that the spectacle wasn’t pornographic or male orientated became evident. Blackheart Burlesque felt like a strongly female-orientated show. The girls danced happily on stage performing lightly erotic displays almost mocking the grim seriousness of strip, and where while the majority of the men in the audience quietly beamed, the girls in the audience hooted and hollered, screaming encouragement and vaulting onto the stage to commit the raunchiest acts of the audience participation, outstripping (hur hur) that of the actual dancers.

Blackheart Burlesque

Running for well over an hour the flow of material covered a number of geek sensations: Adventure Time, the Dr Zaius opera, Lara Croft, Zelda, Superheroes, all measured with a rocking mixture of dance and rock. Highlights included an exceptional display of fire twirling, a tribute to American Psycho and female ejaculation (by the judicious use of an angle grinding groin plate) and the Star Wars finale. Complete with Rotterdam techno the biggest cheers of the night came when the dancers removed their helmets. Being a smallish troupe, by the end of the show the dancers had become favourite friends of the audience, and that final goodbye rang loudest and brashest.

In the spirit of disclosure, I was skeptical about Blackheart Burlesque and perhaps without being part of the community, had some Blackheart Burlesquereservations about the Suicide Girls as a whole. However, after what was an exceptionally entertaining performance that inspired confidence in all the girls (both in the audience and on stage) the show seemed a huge laugh and positive experience for everyone in attendance.

My thesis on Blackheart Burlesque

There’s probably a thesis here for someone to write about how Burlesque demystifies proactive and provocative sexuality in a open and supportive atmosphere, empowering women and ennobling men away from gendered anomies of pulp mag sex quizzes and brutal hardcore pornography.

But that itself seems excessive and alienating. The inclusive truth here is that everyone likes tits and, better yet, they come in all shapes and sizes.

Blackheart Burlesque: Electric Ballroom Camden – Saturday 10th Jan 2015
Photos: Ed Jacobs Photography/Duff Press

Suicide Girls: Blackheart Burlesque returns to London on Sept 4th 2015

Art Devine Thunders
About Art Devine Thunders 26 Articles
The blame is in the name, though the game's the same.

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