With all of the superfluous hyper-sexuality shoved down our throats these days, it isn't surprising a little mystery and integrity come as a welcome and refreshing breath of relief. For some, the term "burlesque" conjures images of neon signs flashing "Live Nudes" leading to a sad little stripper strutting on stage for an audience of trucker hats.
The defining feature of burlesque may be its sex appeal rather than thespian prowess, but its roots lie in music and comedy rather than dancing in various states of undress. Restoring burlesque's original mentality is Madam Fancypuss and The Kabuki Guns Burlesque, appearing at the fundraiser for the Fairy Tales International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. They're a reputable group offering more than the spectacle of tits and ass. Fancypuss and the other ladies of the burlesque dance group -- Priscilla Priss, Betsy Rockets, Cherry Whip, and Li'l Ruby Chaos--fight the decline of the theatrical art form.
"We're trying to be as original as possible," says Fancypuss. "Burlesque has been around since the late 1800s, so almost everything that can be done has been done. Trying to come up with something original is quite challenging."
Solving this dilemma by creating routines with "flaming pasties" and the incorporation of two boas named Atlas and Phaedra, among other accessories, the Kabuki Guns are serious about bringing something exciting to the stage. But it doesn't stop at costumes and props.
"[True burlesque] started off as comedy, satire and a mockery of the social issues that were going on at the time, so we're not just dancing girls," says Fancypuss. "There's comedy, there's theatre, there's all kinds of elements to our show."
In addition to being a genuine and creative burlesque troupe, they are also philanthropists. As part of the Studio Sublime Belly Dancers, Madam Fancypuss has performed for five years at Calgary Cares, AIDS Calgary's outrageous fashion and theatrical gala, and supports the Multiple Sclerosis Society. This year, Fancypuss will volunteers her time and efforts to raise funds for the Fairy Tales International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, performing along with Studio Sublime and as part of The Kabuki Guns.
"I support good causes," says the admirable Madam of her charitable contribution to the fundraiser's lineup. "This is [Fairy Tales'] seventh year. They're quite the underground film festival, with absolutely no funding. These people are working really hard to do something that's different, original and unique."
The film fest is a seven-day celebration of motion pictures, relying entirely on its volunteers, sponsors and generous benefactors to bring gay and lesbian film to Calgarians. As such, the cause is fortunate to have garnered the interest and involvement of the 12-year belly-dancing veteran and the other members of this classy burlesque act. It's rare to find five women with a penchant for charity and performing in flaming adhesive lingerie. Luckily, for several Calgary organizations, The Kabuki Guns have come together to restore the art of genuine burlesque and support worthy causes at the same time.