Four years and three Star Wars movies ago, Shoshana Portnoy, Viva Dallas Burlesque producer, began her preparations. A lifelong fan of both the classic sci-fi series and archaic modes of tantalization, Portnoy says she swiped a garage full of promotional materials from big-box store dumpsters. She’ll be able to clear out the Poe Dameron standees and inflatable BB-8s when Viva Dallas Burlesque kicks off its first Star Wars-themed event.
In 2011, May 4 became the unofficial Star Wars holiday, and for the first time since 2012, it falls on a Friday. Viva Dallas Burlesque’s May the Fourth Be With You event is adding a second show, Revenge of the Pasties, on May 5 (The Fifth Awakens) and a special all-villain midnight show that night (Revenge of the Sixth). Performances are at Viva's Lounge, 1350 Manufacturing St., No. 120.
Just in case you’re a purist, the first night will focus on the original trilogy of films, and the second covers the newer films. More than a dozen performers, including a special appearance by the Lollie Bombs, will take the stage to lampoon and re-create bits from the movies, only with far fewer Jedi robes and less clothing in general.
Portnoy says the show will join the rotation of themed burlesque events put on by Viva Dallas, such as Talk Nerdy to Me, Burton Burlesque (i.e. Tim Burton) and Cirque du Burlesque.
“It’s basically themes pulled from the things I love," Portnoy says. "I’m just really lucky that other people are into them, too.”
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The burlesque craze hit the shores of America in the mid-19th century, slowly dying out almost 100 years later as more performers migrated to Hollywood and politicians sought to crush the risqué art form. By the 1990s, burlesque was quickly clawing its way back to relevancy, likely spurred on by the overt sexuality of strip clubs, Larry Flint and Baywatch. Perhaps there was a need for something a little more cultured.
“I like to say that we’re more than just for bachelorette parties because sometimes that’s how people find us,” Portnoy says. “They’re looking for that scandalous body thing to do, and then they realize that it’s really really fun. It’s interactive theater and also short-attention-span theater, so it’s perfect.”
While some people's first thoughts when hearing the word burlesque may be pasties and G-strings, the genre was birthed more out of irreverence than intimacy. Burlesque performances are traditionally more humorous than anything else. Combining elements of music, dance, theater, makeup and costume design, all brought together by local performers and artists, burlesque is tastefully tawdry and extravagantly ostentatious.
“Burlesque is incredibly diverse, so, like, if someone’s really into punk-rock-tattooed kids, there’s a show for you," Portnoy says. "If someone’s into classic music from the '30s, lots of glamour and shine, there’s a show for you. That’s what I’m super excited about, people figuring out ‘What do we want to do? Go to the movies, go to a concert or go to a burlesque show?’ and it just becomes a commonplace thing.”