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Burg-Lesque: New York Burlesque Fest Kicks Off in Williamsburg

Over twenty performers graced the stage at Williamsburg’s Pubic Assembly last Thursday, at the 7th Annual New York Burlesque Festival Teaser Party, the opening event for the four day long festival. Hosted by the saucy “World Famous Bob,” and with acts ranging from traditional burlesque routines, to the kazoo wielding The Two Man Gentleman Band, the night was filled with off-color fun and an enthusiastic, packed audience.

“I would say pretty confidently that the burlesque scene in New York is the largest in the country if not the world,” long-time burlesque performer and festival co-producer Angie Pontani said. “We have a very diverse scene—there are shows going on just about every night of the week, and they range from very glamorous and classy to very edgy and punk rocky. We have the top notch professional and we have people who are just starting out. And during the festival weekend, we have that times ten thousand.”

The teaser party featured an array of performers, as well as vendors selling corsets, pasties, head pieces, and other burlesque gear. Representatives from Tease Salon, which caters to the burlesque community, set up shop in the back and provided their hair styling services.

The night started with a sitting by Amber Ray presented by Dr. Sketchys, who posed for audience members, who were given paper and crayons and encouraged to draw. Performers throughout the night hailed from New York, Baltimore, Chicago, Key West, Vancouver, and even Sweden, with stage names like Tatah Dujour, Miss Aurora Boobrealis, Burgundy Brixx, and the Incredible, Edible Akynos.

“We try to bring performers from all over the world to New York to really showcase the best in burlesque,” Pontani said. “While the New York scene is so diverse, people from all over the world and country perform different styles of burlesque. People from New Orleans tend to be more bluesy and sexy, while people from Los Angeles tend to be super glamorous. [At the festival,] there’s everything in between, and people get to see it in the most fabulous city in the world. I think that’s what makes it really special.”

The four-day festival, presented by Angie and Tara Pontani of Pontani Productions and Jen Gapay of Thirsty Girl Productions, took place in both Brooklyn and Manhattan and besides the teaser party, included a premier party at The Bell House in Gowanus, The Saturday Spectacular at BB Kings in Times Square, and the Official After Party at Lucille’s Bar. The final event, The Golden Pastie Awards, was held at Le Poisson Rouge, and included awards ranging from Biggest Hair to The Hottest Mess.

“We get a very good turnout, close to about two thousand people,” Pontani said. “You certainly get people who live in New York and New Jersey that love burlesque, but you also get people who have no idea what it is, and who take this as an opportunity to come out and see it. You really get an audience as diverse as the performers themselves.”

For those who missed out, or are still itching for burlesque, Public Assembly hosts a Burlesque Night on Mondays in their front room.

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