Grab your pasties and go! Seattle Burlesque and Cabaret Co-op hosting introductory series in the spring

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Photo by Keith Johnson
Photo by Keith Johnson

Attention all those with a budding interest in burlesque: now is your time to shine! The lovely Seattle Burlesque and Cabaret Co-op is hosting a series of classes from March through April this year, and registration is now open. Though SeaBCC's eight-week foundational #showTHEM series sold out in a stunning 72 hours, there is still space in many of the group's auxiliary workshops.

The SGN got the lowdown on classes, Seattle's burlesque scene, and what SeaBCC has in store for participants in an interview with burlesque stars Mx. Pucks A'Plenty (they/them and YAS Queen pronouns), Scarlett Folds (she/her), and Penny Banks (they/them).

Since SeaBCC was founded in April 2021, it has "grown so much," because "we as an organization have found our flow a lot more clearly" and "found the way that everyone sort of fits into the pieces," said Folds. "We always wanted it to be based in community, based in education, and based in spreading the amazing art form that is burlesque," she added.

And the group's year of hard work is now paying off.

The #showTHEM series started with collaborative planning between Mx. Pucks A'Plenty and Lavish Leone, a burlesque performer based out of Tacoma. "Lavish Leone and I were just kind of lamenting about how we wish that there was some burlesque [in the area] that was rooted more in the BIPOC experience and more in the experience of fat liberation," said Pucks. They settled on developing the eight-week course with different topics each week and lots of guest instructors.

The motivation for developing a burlesque education program stemmed from various factors that have challenged the neo-burlesque scene in Seattle for the past decade. Many of the members of SeaBCC got their start through educational offerings at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, but the school recently gutted its burlesque department. With pandemic-induced complications and a shift to online education, there are fewer chances to get a comprehensive burlesque education in Seattle these days.

In developing #showTHEM's curriculum, Pucks and Leone put a lot of focus on filling this educational hole with courses that leave students feeling empowered and aware of burlesque's roots, including largely brushed-over Black and Brown perspectives.

"It would be a huge disservice if we didn't have an eight-week or long-term program in our space," said Pucks, "especially since we are really working towards this idea of community and nourishment. We're the only space like this that is run by burlesque and cabaret performers for burlesque performers."

While the #showTHEM series is fully booked, the auxiliary offerings are rooted in the same passion for burlesque's history and community empowerment.

When asked which courses would be best for someone looking to dip their toes in the water, Banks said, "I love this question, because I feel like every single one of us is going to give a different answer." And they did. Banks' focus gravitates toward comedy and character, Folds' is more on dance and movement, and Pucks recommended clown class for developing a good sense of character and Political Burlesque to infuse more politics into performances.

There is also a tech class, a unique offering that shows burlesque performers the ropes in setting up performances and assisting with technical needs.

Overall, the three performers agreed that if you're taking selective auxiliary courses, focus on your less developed areas. "If you have a background in dance, then you're probably more strong in performance, which means maybe you need help with makeup, because you don't have a strong background in that. Maybe you need help making pasties. Maybe you need to figure out how to go low budget on a costume. ...Look at what you are the least confident in and go ahead and take advantage of the workshops," said Folds.

Burlesque as culture
The members of SeaBCC emphasized that burlesque has had its difficulties garnering support in the Seattle arts community over the years. "We just had this report come out about the state of arts in our area. It was depressing. We're losing venues like hotcakes," said Pucks.

"Burlesque is not taken seriously as an art form, which makes it difficult to go after" grant funding and community support. "Regardless of where you fall in terms of being an artist, you may not see us as art, but we're definitely culture," they continued. "And we are the culture that sprang out of the most lowbrow of lowbrow. There's something to be said for that."

The art of burlesque centers around storytelling with your body. It has been a home to many outcast members of the Queer community for years.

"We'll take you and whatever weird thing that you have," said Pucks. Burlesque has "always been this place for the underdogs to come together."

Registration and more information is available at