May 5, 2011 at 4:46 pm EDT | by Laura Maravilla
Not just pasties and G-strings

(Photo courtesy of D.C. Gurly Show)

Cher and Christina Aguilera just did it. The Pussycat Dolls did it. Dita Von Teese does it. D.C. Gurly Show does it — right in your backyard.

But what is burlesque? A rich source of music, dance and comedy. When burlesque began in Europe in the 1800s, it was theatrical entertainment for the working class whose main purpose was to “burlesque” — or parody — cultural norms of the upper classes. Burlesque has, from the beginning, questioned traditional roles and ideas of both gender and sexuality.

“Without question, however, burlesque’s principal legacy as a cultural form was its establishment of patterns of gender representation that forever changed the role of the woman on the American stage and later influenced her role on the screen … The very sight of a female body not covered by the accepted costume of bourgeois respectability forcefully if playfully called attention to the entire question of the ‘place’ of woman in American society,” wrote Robert G. Allen, in “Horrible Prettiness: Burlesque and American Culture.”

The pasties and G-string aspect of burlesque appeared in the 1920s when Prohibition attitudes were closing the burlesque halls. Regardless of the level of reveal, the burlesque show is a high- energy romp. It is fun and titillating. It is lighthearted in its suggestiveness. It is playfully naughty. It is not vulgar or demeaning. It honors all the shapes and sizes that women are, and shows how each body is sexy in its own right. It celebrates humanity, sensuality and relationship.

The D.C. Gurly Show is the area’s premier burlesque troupe fostering an encouraging and supportive community of performers and fans. It was founded in 2005 by Kitty Victorian. Since then, the D.C. Gurlies have been performing monthly throughout your city. D.C. Gurly Show is home to some well-known performers: Kitty Victorian, Coco Monroe, Sindalicious, Private Tails, Velvet Kensington and Bambi Galore, to name a few. These performers have gained notoriety in the D.C. area and around the country.

The Gurlies perform the third Wednesday or Friday (alternately) at Phase One and at First Fridays at Apex with the D.C. Kings. They also have other venues and show dates lined up through the spring and summer. And you don’t want to miss them on the main stage at Pride.

So what can you expect to see at a DC Gurly Show? A wide variety of performers with a diverse range of talents. Some of the Gurlies have dance or theater training, some sing and others simply love to disrobe in front of an audience. Solos, duets, and group numbers make up the show, as well as banter from the lovely hostess. The stage will be graced with vivacious vixens like Velvet Kensington, Coco Monroe, Missy Aggravation, Private Tails, Lola Rose, Grena Dean, Anna Steasya, Felon Whoreness and Sindalicious.

For more information on the DC Gurly Show, visit Catch the next performance tonight at 11 p.m. at Apex, 1415 22nd St., N.W.

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