A mix of dance, theater and the exposition of the female body, modern burlesque has been transformed to include a range of styles, from the classic striptease to theatrical mini-dramas. The latter style is embodied by performances by one of Dallas’ rising burlesque stars, Audrey Scorn.
Tall, dark and stunning, Scorn is a 28-year-old with a love for stories starring dark characters. Her passion for the dark, vintage glam aesthetic shows through her deep lipstick and polished, black curls, resembling another famous burlesque figure, Dita Von Teese, who Scorn admits was one of the first stars to have caught her eye. Scorn's stage presence is unlike anything you’ve seen. She defines her style as “spooky” and says that October, specifically the period around Halloween, is her time to shine.
"What’s better than getting to portray something you love through another art?” Scorn says, listing some of her top characters, including a bloody rendition of a character in Eyes Wide Shut, a 420 weed demon and her favorite of all: the one in which she sports a straitjacket in a madness particular to the Victorian era. Some of her other characters fall into separate categories, including an angry Veruca Salt in pursuit of a golden egg and a Twin Peaks Audrey Horne routine, who can be credited as the inspiration behind her own stage name.
“The difference with burlesque is that it’s all you,” Scorn explains, noting that aside from help from other performers, all the music, choreography, backdrops and clothes come from her own inspiration. Scorn's boyfriend of seven years, whose stage name is Grim Morrison, also mixes Scorn's music by adding soundbites from movies and then runs it during performances.
“You get to create your team from start to finish," Scorn says. "The clothes, music, dance moves, all of it — it’s all you.
“I used to act and actually majored in theater at UNT. But I’m just not a naturally competitive person. I’ve always been taught to be humble, and the dog-eat-dog world was just not for me.”
Better things were on the horizon for the performer. Two years ago, while strolling through Deep Ellum Arts Festival, Scorn and her boyfriend passed the Dallas School of Burlesque, now The Leg Room. After resolving that she needed something to get back to expressing herself as she once did with acting, Scorn decided to take the leap and try something new. She took a six-week burlesque course at the school where she met her "burlesque mom," May May Graves, who became her guide, adviser and mentor to this day.
“Once you get in there, you realize how accepting they are, of your experience and all body types,” Scorn says of first entering burlesque school. Despite her being nervous, and still getting nervous before shows today, the rush pushes her to continue to build on her art. Scorn emphasizes that Dallas has a highly supportive performance community.
“It’s not about doing it for men alone, like many might think," Scorn says of burlesque. "The audience is 80% women and their partners. It’s an art form, not just taking off clothes to arouse. It’s about empowering and feeling strong in yourself.”
And that’s exactly what burlesque did for Scorn. “(I’ve) gone through some dark times, and burlesque helped pull me out and become confident in myself. It saved me in a way. I feel blessed to have found something that pulls my soul like it does.”
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