Monday, September 3, 2012

On "Meating Your Audience Most of the Way..."

Below is a handout from the first section of Boylesk 101 I taught over a year ago, revolving around the idea of the "final reveal" or the most climatic aspect of a burlesque or boylesk number. I've dusted it off and added a fresh sprinkling of glitter, plus some moving pictures to keep you interested. Enjoy!


As we continue to examine constructing a boylesk striptease with a strong beginning, middle, and end, the “final reveal” can be considered the ultimate climax preceding the closing of your piece—all of your pieces!
The “final reveal” is the biggest statement you want to make to the audience; ideally, it should be as explosive, enchanting, mesmerizing, and memorable as possible. However, before you start googling for illegal fireworks or sewing a makeshift g-string out of flash paper, be assured that there are just as many infinite ways to end your piece as there are to begin it. Remember that while the audience knows you’ve come onstage to take your clothes off, they don’t know the “why” or the “how” or for that matter, the “what” you’ve prepared to reveal. Perhaps after a tease-filled strip you simply want to unveil your body in the skimpiest g-string or jock, or, maybe you have an acrobatic stunt or a surprise prop to conclude your number.
However you decide to—ahem—finish yourself off, keep in mind that the more time you spend developing your story line, fine tuning your costume, and and AND REHEARSING the strip with all those elements, the stronger your final reveal will be and ultimately, your entire boylesk striptease.
Below are several examples of what I’ve labelled as specific types of unique and crowd pleasing final reveals. As you watch the accompanying videos, take note how these fantastic performers have structured the choreography, costume, and the overall narrative of their numbers to climax with these magical and incredibly entertaining finales.

The ‘Ol Bare Bum; or, Going “Classically Commando”
Consider this: it can be argued that a classic female burlesque number’s final reveal centers on stripping down to a g-string and pasties (of varying size, style, and definition of those two—well, three—costume pieces). Essentially, there’s a top and a bottom reveal. As male performers we’re a little more limited simply because we’ve got less equipment to showcase. With that in mind, I fully encourage (read as demand) all my students to strip down to at least a jockstrap or g-string. To me, there’s just not enough “oomph”—ideally it would sound more like an “ahhh”—when a male performer strips  down to only full coverage underwear or boxer briefs. Remember that as male performers we are working in a performance art originating around the female form. If the ladies I have the privilege of sharing the stage with are baring their all, I’m certainly not going to lower the standard with a closing shot reminiscent of a J.C. Penny underwear catalogue.
However, on that same note of just how much of the family treasury to circulate into currency… let it be stated that some performers strip completely naked. Others don’t. As a performer, its important that you never a) feel pressured to go “classically commando” and b) don’t rely simply on “being naked” onstage to save your number. If you feel justified in baring all, fantastic; if not, keep it that way. I always try to remind myself that a burlesque or boylesk number is as much about the tease as it is the strip. It helps me to liken this idea to a similar note on choreography and costuming: I’m not going to come onstage and take a layer off every ten seconds because there’s also no tease apparent in that scenario. If anything, what will leave your audience screaming and cheering for more is when you actually leave them a sliver—not to make any assumptions about your, ahh, rigging—to scream and cheer for. For male performers, consider again the infinite possibilities of cod pieces, c-cups, and other phallic devices that hint at your bared essentials without actually plattering them up for the crowd.


The Phallic Prop
And speaking of phalluses, to further extend the above thoughts, consider how you might incorporate a costume piece or prop into your final reveal that not only relates to the overall “story” of your strip but also one that centers around your anatomical assets. A phallic prop not only titillates your audience by having them imagine what your real deal must be like, but it also showcases your cleverness as a performer. To be blunt, dick jokes abound in plenitude in adult life. Pick one and go for it! I’ve seen fantastic final reveals involving a waffle cone, Adam with not one but TWO shiny apples, and bananas of all shape and rhinestones.
Think of it as “meating” your audience most of the way: showcasing a reveal that can still be comedic or sexy but always smart.


Bizarre Twists
The Neo-Burlesque scene of New York City is filled with burlesque and boylesk performers adding unusual final reveals to their numbers. Ranging from comedic to utterly terrifying and stomach turning, such reveals may range from the insertion or extraction of props from below the belt orifices to stage blood or other liquid and edible properties. Personally, I love performers who take risks in their pieces. However, ensuring that a final reveal of this calibre is both justified AND carefully prepped and planned will make you out as a performer who is not only willing to push boundaries but also as one who is incredibly professional.
To begin, if you have any questions about your number and how it may or may not work in a given space, be sure to check with the promoter or venue to make sure your reveal is a) legal and b) works with the overall aesthetic of the show. And as a final caveat, come prepared! Make sure the stage manager or stage kitten is aware of your act’s needs and lead by example by bringing any necessary towels, tarps, etc. to make your experience—and those of your fellow performers—as smooth as possible.


Trick or Stunt
Extreme feats of dynamic, physical movement and choreography can be a fantastic, crowd-awing finishing touch to your number. Your “trick” could be as complicated as a gymnast routine or as simple and slick as jumping into the splits—never underestimate the power of the splits! The sheer dynamic effort on your part will amaze spectators and many times make you the darling of a show.
Consider this: as humans, are we not continually impressed and humbled by accomplishments we see ourselves incapable of fulfilling? You’d be surprised how many people think they could never execute a split, back bend, or head stand just to name a few examples.

A Caveat:
Now of course, just like the rest of your stripper choreography, any extra physical stunt should be well rehearsed and prepped. For example, don’t jump into the splits having not warmed up or your final reveal may come a lot sooner than you intended. Many performers train for years to execute seemingly effortless movements and acts of physical strength and endurance. Remember, the ease and fluidity before you onstage is only achieved through these performers’ extreme dedication and focus.



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