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Burlesque the book, and A Decade of Decadence

BY DREW ROWSOME

While browsing through a pdf version of the stunning soon-to-be art book Burlesque, I am interrupted by the vivacious and stunning Miss Mitzy Cream. "Gorgeous," she purrs in my ear while peering over my shoulder, "What is this?"

I explain that it is the sophomore book from the team who created dr.a.g. Miss Cream is impressed but puzzled why there don't appear to be any Canadians. She flaunts a fistful of flyers before my eyes, fanning them with a crisp snap that echoes like the tail end of cracking whip. "This is on Friday, July 10. A Decade of Decadence. It's a night to celebrate the pioneers of Toronto's Neo-Burlesque movement. It's a milestone."

It's hard to believe that Miss Cream began bumping and grinding as a tweenie but she insists that her first show was 10 years ago. "Mysterion, who is hosting A Decade of Decadence, was at my first show and then I was at his. They were only a few months apart. I introduced him to burlesque and he has, as you well know, dated many a burlesque dancer since me." An endless quest to recapture the magic of the girl who popped his burlesque cherry? Miss Cream winks but holds her cards close to her ample bosom.

"You'll have to do some publicity for it," she suggests in a voice that would melt ice cubes in scotch. "You'll enjoy the show, there are boys. There's Sir Pomp LaMoose, Sexy Mark Brown..."

"I'll just have to think of an angle," I assure the woman behind A Decade of Decadence (Fri, July 10 at Revival Bar, 783 College St). But first I have questions for the man behind the book Burlesque, the no less sultry Christopher Logan.

"Once of my favourite lines in the Introduction of the Burlesque book is "Did you know a handful of the top burlesque entertainers in the world are men?" says Logan. "We have spreads on Tigger, Captain Kidd, The Stage Door Johnnies, Russell Bruner and Mark, the Evil Hate Monkey." But he doesn't discount the appeal of the ladies. "For me as a gay man, burlesque is rife with gorgeous costumes, statuesque ladies and appeals to the part of us that falls hard for Cher, Liza and the screen sirens like Marilyn herself. It's about beauty, being sex positive and embracing an array of body shapes and types."

Logan has indeed curated a cornucopia of bodacious beauties, "I went after specific photos, and contacted photographers and performers and asked if they had a signature look or shot. A lot of the photos were previously shot for posters, magazines, etc... they've just never been showcased in a full art-quality print or collected all together in a book like this." Yet it seems strange that there is no representation from such hometown girls as Coco La Crème, Sauci Calla Horra, Honey B Hind, Tanya Cheex or the divine Miss Mitzy Cream herself (all of whom will, by the way, be appearing in A Decade of Decadence, Friday, July 10 at Revival Bar, 783 College St). "None of the Toronto performers I contacted replied to me," insists Logan. "Nothing against Toronto, it's just that no one made the effort to get back to me."

I dig for dirt on who was more diva-esque, the dragsters of dr.a.g. or the teases of Burlesque. "There's a glamour element and sophistication to both, and they both also embrace comedy," says Logan, dodging the bullet with a diplomatic non-sequitur instead of aplomb. "Drag is more clothes than one gender, and burlesque is where they leave it all on the floor."


Burlesque is ready for printing and Logan invites all to visit their kickstarter page, kickstarter.com/projects/1369663719/the-burlesque-coffee-table-book, to pre-order. Or their website, bookthefilm.com for more tantalization. I attempt to impress Miss Cream with the tidbit that dr.a.g. was a VIP gift at this year's Sundance Film Festival. She sniffs, "Anyone can give it away for free. Tickets to A Decade of Decadence, Friday, July 10 at Revival Bar, 783 College Street are $15 advance or $20 at the door."
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