Home' LOTL : November 2004 Contents FROM LEFT TO RIGHT YUMI, MOIRA AND JACKIE. PHOTO JODIE HUTCHINSON.
CECILIA MINOGUE SPEAKS TO THE BRAINS
AND BODY BEHIND THE BURLESQUE HOUR.
In the early 1990s, after a particularly gruelling period as
National Campaign Manager for the Wilderness Society,
Moira Finucane needed a change. When a friend asked
her what she thought she'd do Finucane answered: "I think
I'm going to be an actress".
Since then, Finucane has been wowing audiences with
her peculiar ver ve and vitality as a performer, director and
creator of theatrical extravaganzas. In particular, she has
car ved a space for herself in the rapidly expanding world of
Her latest show, The Burlesque Hour, is a collaboration
with long time creative partner Jackie Smith. It promises to
deliver all the sass and spice the name suggests as well as a few
unexpected treats. It takes the striptease and feathers of 20th
century showgirls and combines them with burlesque's
original aim to satirise accepted morals and societal norms.
Most people are familiar with the sequins and high kicks
of the burlesque showgirls bumping and grinding their stuff
for a male audience in the first half of the 20th century. As
the 50s descended, burlesque lost its footing as "legitimate"
entertainment and was forced underground to become
striptease and erotic dancing.
It is less well known that burlesque originally put down
its saucy roots in Italy and France in the 1600s as a way of
looking at the issues of the day through bombastic, odd and
irreverent lenses. Above all, burlesque was about laughter.
Through the humorous and the salacious, it provided
alternative ways of viewing the world.
While queer audiences have been enjoying the
developing neo-burlesque for the past decade Finucane likes
the idea of allowing the innate "queerness" of burlesque to
be enjoyed by mainstream audiences.
"Jackie and I set out to create a context where performers
could do what they would normally only do for an
underground audience. Instead of saying 'women can do
whatever they want!' you're showing women doing whatever
This new generation of showgirls make no apologies for
using their incredible brains as well as their incredible bodies
to take audiences to extraordinary places. They explore
sexuality, stereotypes, power and oppression. They dissolve
and rearrange preconceptions and assumptions like the
balloons they pop with spiked G-strings. There is no doubt
these girls put on a ribald show but we can also take it for
granted that there is a depth and deconstruction to their
brand of bump and grind.
"Audiences are intelligent and we need to cherish them",
says Finucane. "If you take care of your audience and don't
treat them as though they're stupid, they'll come back for
more." That sentiment certainly paid off when the recent
Melbourne season of The Burlesque Hour sold out after
Finucane is joined by circus and burlesque star, Azaria
Universe and Japanese shock cabaret artiste Yumi Umimare.
Sydney audiences are in for a special treat with guest star
Toni Lamond providing a dash of the cabaret for which she
It's risqué, it's raucous and it's rambunctious. It's an
hour of bodacious burlesque that no-one with a brain, a sex
drive and a sense of humour should miss.
The Burlesque Hour, November 2--6 & 9--13, 8.15pm at
The Sydney Opera House Studio. Bookings (02) 9250 7777 or
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