• Tits On Sticks, Boobs Against Bills and a Benny Hill Version of Politics

    Coco de Mer
    by Coco de Mer on 28 July 2009

    Burlesque at Coco de Mer Last night was fucking brilliant. Witching hour saw our shop window come alive with saucy showcases with top burlesque performers Lola LaBelle and Ruby Rose, still life models Kink Ink and the divine sounds of Twin and Tonic. We literally stopped traffic. There were tailbacks down Monmouth Street as everyone wanted to see more - and it was fucking amazing.

    And the best bit is we're doing it all again tonight at 10pm so come and join us for a night of burlesque beauty. This is all part of our campaign to show Camden Council what burlesque really is and this Wednesday will see us taking to the streets of London to give the council a real eyeful. There'll be tits on sticks, 6ft burlesque figures and all manner of beautiful costumes. We'd love you to help us with the rabble rousing so be at the Monmouth Street store at noon.

    There is a kind of comedy about the notion of a burlesque protest - tits on sticks, boobs against bills and a Benny Hill version of politics so when approached by the magical and intelligent Lola LaBelle I could not help but giggle at the a tassel twirling outrage...


    Burlesque at Coco de MerHowever, when listening to her persuasive intelligence, the issues around why the industry is taking to the streets were revealed to be a lot more serious. The simple truth is that the burlesque industry is being threatened by a couple of officials in Camden Council who have laced their prudery with misinformation. The consequence of their ignorance will have a massive cultural implication - if their views go unchallenged then this wave of cultural censorship could, like our dwindling civil liberties, add to the freedoms that are being stripped away from us under our own booties.

    Ok, so the issue is that Camden Council have deemed burlesque as being dangerous to children and that they state that due to the growing popularity of the art form burlesque acts need to obtain an adult entertainment license in order to perform. The license would mean that burlesque would have to be performed in a strip club or the venue would have to pay for temporary adult entertainment license, which comes at a considerable cost and inconvenience. Burlesque's reputation will also be tarnished by its having to hold the same license as pole dancing, lap dancing and strip shows.

    Camden Council are missing the point that burlesque performers are women of all shapes and sizes who are empowered by their art. They perform because burlesque is their passion, not to make money and they do not perceive themselves or their act as a part of the sex industry. In contrast to other forms of adult entertainment, the majority of burlesque audiences are empowered, intelligent women. Strip clubs are by and large operated by men and men make up their audience. Additionally, these men expect to be sexually aroused by what they see.

    For those who already know what burlesque truly is, the issue is that burlesque is an art form and a genre that spans across all the arts - from literature, dance, music and theatre. It is exaggerated costumes and gestures that are salaciously dipped in sexuality and innuendo and it can cover the full spectrum from suggestion and tease through to strip. Burlesque is also known for its political boundary pushing.

    My issue is that burlesque is a genre that encompasses many disciplines and styles of performance and with their actions Camden Council is effectively outlawing the genre. Such is their blanket approach to this licensing; it is the equivalent of them banning 'drama' or 'comedy'. Yet, when I met with the Council they admitted that they could not actually define what burlesque is but they have still taken it upon themselves to be cultural censors.

    So we're showing them what burlesque is with a series of saucy events.