The 12 days of Christmas countdown has finally begun, and for many that means itâ€™s time to stock the larder full of sugary goodies. But the Capital City Cheesecakes are offering up a holiday season treat of a different kind, complete with tarts and pastries . . .well, make that â€œpastriesâ€ minus the â€œrâ€.
The local burlesque troupe has been a vital part of the burlesque revival that has been gaining momentum over the past few years. While this incarnation is fairly newâ€”their debut group performance was in Julyâ€”many of the girls have been interested in burlesque for much longer than that.
Champagne Sparkles, one of the Cheesecake performers, has only been doing burlesque shows since February, when a workshop for a friendâ€™s birthday finally introduced her to the nuts and bolts of the sassy stripping art. But she says sheâ€™s been intrigued by the movement for quite some time, and it was watching a Vancouver performance by famed adult dancer Catherine Dâ€™Lish that put her over the edge.
â€œSheâ€™s just this amazing performer. The costumes, the sparkle . . . thatâ€™s what hooked me, thatâ€™s what made me decide I had to do it,â€ she says.
Sparkles says the troupe has about 20 people loosely affiliated with it, but there are about six to eight core performers and half a dozen supporting performers. The women involved span a wide range of ages and occupations.
â€œItâ€™s so broad. We have everything from professionals to moms to students and everything in between. All ages, all shapes and sizes,â€ she says. â€œWhat I think is common with all of us is a desire to really entertain and perform and to put on a good show and obviously a sense of being comfortable with your body.â€
For the Cheesecakes, burlesque is about more than showing off their pasties. Their mission is â€œto celebrate classic burlesque with a modern twist,â€ meaning they incorporate humour, audience participation, and a whole lot of sass into their shows. But at the end of the day, the girls are showing off their boobies, which could potentially make for a bad day at the office if you run into someone you recognize.
â€œThere is a level of that, but obviously if youâ€™re going to be onstage you have to expect that youâ€™re going to be recognized and be prepared for that. Itâ€™s not something any of us are ashamed of doing. Itâ€™s all about celebration,â€ says Sparkles. â€œIâ€™m a professional and Iâ€™ve never had a bad reaction from anyone I work with about what Iâ€™m doing.â€
Indeed, many of the performers are more worried about an onstage slip-up than an embarrassing post-show run-in. Sparkles has her share of funny show stories, such as when the CD started skipping during her first-ever performance.
â€œIt prepared me for the fact that something goes wrong at every show,â€ she laughs. â€œI have yet to come a pasty come flying off, but that definitely happens to everyone at some point. The ability to dance with one hand covering your breast is a skill every performer needs to learn.â€