Ottawa is in the midst of an ongoing love affair with burlesque. But as with any long-term relationship, it’s natural to start feeling curious about what it would be like to see other people. Luckily, burlesque is an understanding mistress. With a strong roster of troupes and performers, the Ottawa scene has picked up a tremendous amount of steam in the last few years. Which is why Koston Kreme, bombshell extraordinaire and performer with Ottawa troupe Capital Tease, felt the time was right for Ottawa to host its own burlesque expo to showcase the city’s talent and welcome other performers from across the country.
“Ottawa didn’t really have any major shows when I started thinking about doing this,” Kreme says. “We’ve got all kinds of little shows going on . . . but we didn’t have something that was really big that was bringing everybody together.”
The Capital Burlesque Expo, which runs April 4 to 6, is a chance for performers to collaborate on a series of shows. In organizing the weekend, Kreme has worked closely with Bella Barecatt, of the Ottawa Burlesque Playground, and Stanley Mansfield, of Ottawa vaudeville troupe the Mansfield Brothers. “When you’ve got three shows in a row and you’re trying to figure out which acts work in what show, it’s a huge challenge,” she says.
The weekend kicks off Friday night with dinner and a show at Fatboys Southern Smokehouse, followed by a Saturday show at Barrymore’s Music Hall — home in the 1970s to Ottawa’s first full-nudity strip club — that will be a throwback to the early days of burlesque. The weekend wraps up Sunday with the Great Canadian Tease Burlesque Brunch at Maxwell’s Bistro.
Performers at the Expo will include Capital Tease and the Mansfield brothers, the newly formed Twisted Knickers, and others representing the Ottawa scene. Out-of-town acts include Halifax temptress Kay Licious; Arabella Allure, from Edmonton; and various acts from Montreal and Toronto. Headliners include New York’s Amber Ray and Canada’s first Miss Exotic World, Roxi D’Lite. Performers Kage Wolfe, James and the Giant Pastie and Lucky Fremont will give Ottawa a taste of Boylesque.
The Expo is also a great opportunity for performers to network off-stage. “A lot of the time with smaller gigs out of town, you don’t get to socialize much, so an expo where people are here for a few days but not working the whole time means everybody gets to catch up,” Kreme says.
Plans are in the works to make Capital Burlesque Expo an annual event, and next year’s lineup will likely include some burlesque workshops. “I’m really hoping that after this weekend we see a lot more Ottawa performers travelling out of town and a lot more out of town performers asking to come back.”