by J.D. Oxblood
May 31st – June 3rd, 2012
Orleans Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada
First, a New York metaphor. The Burlesque Hall of Fame weekend in Las Vegas is like arriving at the 59th Street subway station on the Lex express line, already late for work, and hitting the escalator at a full-tilt run, hoping to catch the local train upstairs. It’s a long escalator, gruelingly, London-underground long, and the fact that it’s moving only makes it more difficult to climb as you vault up it, two steps at a time. Halfway up your legs are aching, halfway again your lungs are screaming, and halfway again you start remembering some joke your physics professor once told you about “halflives” and why a mathematician could never flirt with a pretty woman across the room. Finally, you quit sprinting, and walk those last few steps up onto the mezzanine, not disappointed that you didn’t make the dash—the 6 train is already pulling out, but there will be, after all, another one—but feeling confident and empowered and energized that you made it at all. Hell, people have died attempting less on three hours sleep, a wicked hangover and twenty-seven hours without solid food.
Dolly shot of a victorious yet exhausted spectator in a rumpled suit, the tie still on, the collar unbuttoned. Pull back as the train rockets by, tousling his floppy hair in a hot breeze. Crane up, pulling back through the concrete, rising up above the sidewalk of the Upper East Side, now a full aerial shot of midtown Manhattan. Pull across, spinning the globe past the lurid green cultural wasteland of Pennsylvania, the patchwork farms of Iowa. Speed ever quicker, Nebraska a drunk’s flatland dream, Colorado’s phallic peaks mere snowcones of sobriety. Slower now, falling softly towards a vast beige nothingness, like a close-up on the pants section of a Banana Republic. Endless fields of khaki. Zoom in on the haughty grandeur of the desert—a killer of men, a sea only for burros, a wet dream for mobsters and showgirls and gamblers. A glint of rhinestones and sequins as we pan in, the metallic gleam of the Emerald City. Zoom in quicker, falling like a bad pop song slipping from the charts, past neon singing steak-and-egg specials and waving cowboys and a pyramid lifted from a farther, alien desert. Past the highway, past the In-N-Out Burger, past the adult superstore, the other adult superstore, the showgirl attire superstore. There, on the right, the garish marquee, with green and purple masks and beads advertising a city 2000 miles away. Pull in, slide out of the cab. Slow pan across a parade of happy, weary faces, traces of eyeshadow and lipliner too stubborn to peel off, the least rumpled dresses draped over spent bodies, hugs and kisses and more hugs, full of love and overflowing with lipsticked cheeks. “It’s over, we made it, I love you, I miss you already, come see me, I’ll come see you, I love you, see you next year, I love you.”
Now crane up, pan across, quickly, now Superman around the globe until it spins backwards, rolling back four days earlier, to the arrival of glitter, descending on the desert town that defined glamour for generations…
This is the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend, 2012.
Photo ©Francine and used with express permission by Burlesque Beat.