The 2017 New York Burlesque Festival Marks Fifteen Years

Jacques Patriaque performing at the 2017 New York Burlesque Festival Thursday night Teaser party at the Bell House.

Jacques Patriaque

The 2017 New York Burlesque Festival Thursday Night Teaser Party

Once again, the New York Burlesque Festival fell on top of Rosh Hashanah this year—L’Shanah tovah, y’all—making us pull double-duty to honor both religious traditions. And we were feeling it this year. After a fantastic BHOF this summer, and an otherwise miserable year inundated with literal floods and metaphoric ones of horrible headlines, somebody, please, TAKE IT OFF.

Fifteen effing years? For realskies? Check out my (muggle-monikered byline) promo with quotes from founders Queen Angie and Empress Jen. 

Meanwhile, we rolled in for the second half at the Bell House just in time to see Jenny C’est Quoi “driving” a car—simple mime, well-executed—and pick up hitchhiker Boo Bess. To Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger” (y’know, that catchy “la la / la la / lalalala”) the hitcher proceeds to get all over the driver, stripping to reveal her ridiculously cut back, and after peeling a few layers off the driver, folds herself over her shoulder in a driving 69. To say this act was some seriously hot girl-on-girl action is putting it mildly—as evidenced by all the “straight” ladies in the audience getting hot and bothered (it’s cool, we know the Kinsey is a scale, not a toggle switch).

The act topped itself when Boo took the wheel, pulled over, and thru Jenny the F out.


Boo Bess with Jenny C'est Quoi performing at the 2017 New York Burlesque Festival Thursday night Teaser party at the Bell House.

Boo Bess with Jenny C’est Quoi


Stache Novak, in his New York Burlesque Festival debut, killed with his lonely-yet-badass security guard act, glimpsed back in 2013 at a Wasabassco anniversary party.

To Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again,” he does a slow opening-legs move while seated, pulling us into his drama, before going full bad-ass—fighting ninjas, NBD. A crowd member hands him a dozen roses which he DROP KICKS into the audience.


Stache Novak performing at the 2017 New York Burlesque Festival Thursday night Teaser party at the Bell House.

Stache Novak


Mostess Hostess with the Twinkies, World Famous *BOB* said, “It’s harder than it looks,” explaining that those thinking, “‘I can take off my clothes’ — yeah, I can cook a pancake, but I don’t have a cooking show.” Now living in Austin, she was excited to be back at the NYBF to “see the new naked people.”

Two new-to-me naked people made me stand up and shout. Toronto’s Zyra Lee Vanity —an absolutely stunning young black woman— presented in a Graffiti-inspired dress wholly derived from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”’s opening credits, with big hoop earrings and simple poses, and as the theme music got progressively more mixed up and #wobbly she werked it, slow robot, sick pop lock—a deteriorating boogie down that the crowd freaked out on. In a tag ending, she did the Carlton to Tom Jones.


Zara Lee Vanity performing at the 2017 New York Burlesque Festival Thursday night Teaser party at the Bell House.

Zara Lee Vanity


And Viktor Devonne gave a singular performance that stuck with me through the weekend. With his face painted white, Devonne shuffled onstage in a dowdy bathrobe, eating cold pizza from a box, mid-West physique ill-hidden. In silence he plugged in modem and dialed up: cue old-school modem insanity noises. In a chat room, he made a new friend, and pushing aside a pizza box with a pointed toe, plugged in a camera and started dancing away— kid can move, and was funny sexy, turning up the volume to foot fetish play and — the connection dropped. In a masterful act construction, he was back in silence and pouting, back to his pizza box. He dialed back up, didn’t find his new paramour—sad face—then did re-connect—happy face, commence dance, strip to next-to-nothing. Super fun, super memorable. A good story well-told.


Viktor Devonne performing at the 2017 New York Burlesque Festival Thursday night Teaser party at the Bell House.

Viktor Devonne


We also got Jezebel Express with a selfie stick act, getting the crowd to cheer for their own selves (#narcissists), and capping her act with a meta phone call, telling a friend, “Yeah, I killed it.” Jacques Patriaque, from Vienna, with a custom brain rig that emulated Mars Attacks with exploding goo. MFA, a New York group spearheaded by Akynos, busting a seriously over-the-top African dance with live drummers on the stage, that I simply don’t have the vocabulary to describe properly (and I wish someone would). We found out that Dangrrr Doll moved to Raleigh, and that Chris Harder volunteers stripping at legendary gay senior center, Sage. He’s my hero.


J.D. Oxblood is co-founder of Burlesque Beat and the writer/director of the film #AnnieHall. Under his muggle name, he is the author of the novels Killing Williamsburg and The Painted Gun.  

Check out all our New York Burlesque Festival coverage throughout the years.

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All photos ©Ed Barnas and used here with express permission for Burlesque Beat. Performers may use shots for promotional purposes, but please credit properly with photographer’s full name and a link to this piece. All other requests please contact us to acquire permission.

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