So, you’re asking, where can you go to make these hot nights even hotter? Our suggestion: Head to the third annual Windy City Burlesque Fest, where more than 90 female and male artists—including 60 from across the country and around the world—burn up the stage over the course of three nights. The fireworks begin Thursday with a free kick-off party at Lincoln Tap Room, followed by six main events at Stage 773, each showcasing one of three headlining burlesque queens and two of seven featured acts along with full lineups of performers, plus dozens of workshops with the artists so you can learn some new moves yourself.
The inaugural strip-stravaganza debuted in 2010 when Vaudezilla’s Red Hot Annie teamed up with Belmont Burlesque Revue’s Paris Green. “We were primarily inspired by all of the amazing local talent that has blossomed in Chicago in the past three to four years,” says Annie. “We wanted to showcase their talent, as well as inspire everyone by bringing in some of our favorite national and international burlesque performers.”
This year, the fest moves to the newly renovated Stage 773, “where we can feature aerial burlesque acts for the first time,” Annie continues. “We’ll [also] have vendors for the first time, so people will be able to purchase their own burlesque goodies. This is also the first year that we’ll have a legend—Tiffany Carter, who was a very in-demand performer from the 1960s to 1980s and will be making a special appearance (yes, she'll be performing!)—at the festival.”
Can’t decide which shows to attend? While each showcase features 14-18 different performers, we’ve highlighted the headlining and featured acts for each to help you decide.
9 p.m. Thursday
(Free kick-off party at Lincoln Tap Room, 3010 N. Lincoln Ave.)
Chicagoan Shirley Knot hosts performances by a dozen local favorites—including Cruel Valentine, Lucy Flawless and Josephine Shaker—plus Patsy Blue Ribbon from Indianapolis and Miss Alyssa Kitt from Brisbane, Australia.
8 p.m. Friday
Coco Lectric—a classically trained dancer with a Bettie Page look—arrives from Austin, Texas with her modern nod to classic burlesque (think feather fans). She’s joined by Tiffany Carter, a burlesque legend from Las Vegas, and Penny Starr Jr. from L.A.
10 p.m. Friday
Expect contortion when Hollywood dynamo Kristina Nekyia steps onto the stage—she’s one of a very few burlesque performers with a legitimate circus background and she’s also known for fire-eating and bellydancing. Fellow Angeleno Kitten DeVille and Chicago’s own Bazuka Joe round out the “featured” spots.
Jo Boobs—the fest’s first headliner from New York City and one of the world’s most recognized burlesque instructors—made her name with an act where she dressed as Godzilla, so you know she’ll bring something edgy, likely set to modern music. Foxy Tann from Minneapolis and local boylesque hottie Ray Gunn are also featured.
8 p.m. Saturday
Jo Boobs headlines again, this time with Kitten DeVille—a shimmy-shaker who brings a lot of sex appeal to her acts and is one of this era’s most well-known neo-burlesque performers—and Penny Starr Jr.
10 p.m. Saturday
Coco Lectric classes up the joint again tonight, along with the hunky Jeff Adore from Chicago and Tiffany Carter, who headlined around the world from the ’60s through the ’80s and was crowned Miss Nude Universe 1975.
Showgrrl and Kristina Nekyia brings her hips of fury back onstage for more fiery moves. Female female-impersonator Foxy Tann—you know, like “Victor/Victoria,” but a whole lot campier and edgier—takes the stage, too, along with Chi-town boys-next-door-but-better troupe, The Stagedoor Johnnies.
Go: Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.
Tickets: $30 per show; 773-327-5252; windycityburlesquefest.com
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