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Zenkaikon 2019: Cosplay Burlesque

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For the second year in a row, I’ve had the absolute pleasure to attend Cosplay Burlesque’s show at Zenkaikon in Lancaster, PA. I had first heard about Cosplay Burlesque three years ago, after Crymson went to their show and interviewed them at Zenkaikon 2017. I was excited to hear they were coming back so that I could finally see what all the fuss was about.

Last year, Thia the Bard wrote about her experience at their show, being asexual. I want to give a little background on myself before moving forward with my review. I am demisexual. This means that I don’t feel sexual attraction to a person unless I’ve established an emotional connection with them first.

That being said, I absolutely love burlesque. To me, it’s not so much sexual, but rather an art form. It’s an art that promotes and celebrates body positivity, confidence and sexuality. It’s an art that allows the dancer to utilize their creativity and express themselves using physical methods.

Cosplay Burlesque specifically uses pop culture and turns it into something even more exciting. We see characters from shows and movies we know and love.. then we see them dance and take their clothes off.

This year, we were excited by characters from My Hero AcademiaMario, X-MenGame of Thrones, and… The Human Centipede? Yes, Oliver Swisskey did a The Human Centipede act. It’s awesome, though, I promise!

The dancers were all amazing, as usual. The show came together extremely well. Clothes were flying everywhere, laughter and cat calls filled the air, and there was so much T&A that I didn’t know whether I should look away and blush or lean into it and cheer (spoiler alert, it’s the latter).

The MC was witty and really knew how to keep the momentum of the show going. The most memorable acts, for me, were the following (in no particular order): Oberyn Martell from Game of Thrones, The Juggernaut from X-Men, Lady Bowser from Mario, Mrs White from Clue, and the doctor from The Human Centipede. Each act brought something new to the stage that could be exciting or concerning, depending on the context.

Though, I must say, the picture of Oberyn Martell’s dead body directly after the act was unnecessary. (I know, Oliver, it’s a palette cleanser, but still!)

What makes this company so intriguing to me is that you have people of all genders, orientations, shapes and sizes exuding so much confidence that I start to feel as though I could do anything. As an overweight woman, my self-esteem is often down in the dumps. I have insecurities out the wazoo. If faced with the option to burlesque, I would run home and put more clothes on. But after a Cosplay Burlesque show, where I see a woman who is my size flaunting her sexiness to a room full of con-goers, my confidence in myself is soaring. I’m inspired. I feel good about myself because she feels good about herself.

Burlesque is so much more than dancers taking their clothes off. It’s a form of expression that can not only make the dancer feel amazing, but also inspire people in the audience. It’s an art that screams out, “You are sexy!” to a room full of people who may have come in believing that they’re not good enough.

Cosplay Burlesque has introduced me to the world of burlesque and I would love to see more. If you have any suggestions for burlesque companies to look out for, please leave them in the comments below!

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Zenkaikon 2018: An Asexual Walks into a Burlesque Show…

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As a person who identifies as asexual, I had never really put a lot of thought into ever going to a burlesque act. I knew that burlesque is an art form, but I was still a bit uncomfortable with the sexual aspects of it, particularly the people who might be sitting around me.

Growing up ace and not knowing what I was, I have always felt like I was…off. Like everyone else understood something that I did not. Almost like when people are telling a joke that you just don’t get but every other person around you thinks it’s hysterical. That joke just keeps being told around you, over and over again, so you just start laughing, too, even though you don’t find it funny.

That’s how I’ve felt about anything sexual. Everyone else was in on this amazing joke that I just couldn’t find interesting, let alone funny, no matter how hard I tried. And I have tried. I’ve had relationships in the past and have tried to be like everyone else. One of those ended very badly for me.

I have tried to talk like everyone else, joining my friends in conversations while pretending that I felt what they felt. I remember having conversations with my mom about my relationships and her asking me why I wasn’t being more sexual so long as I was “safe” about it. I didn’t know how to tell her, or others, that I really didn’t want to.

I didn’t hear the term “asexual” in reference to a person until I was in my late twenties. I saw it. I researched it. I had my “AHA!” moment. I then felt such relief. While I do not believe that a person needs to label themselves, it was wonderful to find out there were more people like me; people who had never gotten the joke either.

So, when we were trying to decide panels and my friends were most assuredly going to Cosplay Burlesque, I was torn. I have sexualization thrown at me everywhere. The television I watch, the ads, the music I listen to, the way other people react to what I wear. I didn’t want to go to yet another thing where I failed to understand why everyone else was having fun.

Thankfully, we went to the Cosplay Burlesque booth prior to the panel. Crymson, who had interviewed the cast last year,  introduced Vanri and myself to them. Oliver Swisskey walked over to give hugs and talk to us. The moment he found out about my sexuality and that I was thinking of perhaps going to a different panel, he began to talk to me. Oliver assured me that it was totally cool with him if I went to a different panel and then also told me about his act, what his music was, and the story he was going to tell.

 me dddI started to get excited. I had never thought about focusing on the technical aspects of the show: how they made their costumes; the music they choose and how it would further the story within the act. So, I made the decision to go with my friends that night.

I am so glad that I did. It was honestly beautiful. There was so much thought put into every aspect of each performance. The lighting was always different. The costumes were amazing. It also helped that everything was, well, nerdy. That made me feel very included when a performance was one of my fandoms.

There was a lot of humor in every act. I sat there, happily clapping and dissecting the sheer amount of work that went into everything. They also have a diverse cast full of body positivism!

I am so glad that my first burlesque show was Cosplay Burlesque. The cast is so hard working and friendly. I was also lucky enough to be there for our interview with them. They are truly some awesome nerds. They were very warm and funny during and after the interview. Oliver was also so nice to me every time he saw me at con after talking to him that first night.

In short, this asexual walked into a burlesque show… and walked out a fan. I went to the right show, with the right cast, at the right place, with the right friends. I went out of my comfort zone and gained a new appreciation for an art form.  

If you have the opportunity to see Cosplay Burlesque go see them! You will have a wonderful time.

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Always keep sparkling!