“This Is A Different Way Of Looking At What A Man Can Be”: I Do Boyles

A life 2023

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“This Is A Different Way Of Looking At What A Man Can Be”: I Do Boyles
“This Is A Different Way Of Looking At What A Man Can Be”: I Do Boyles
Video: “This Is A Different Way Of Looking At What A Man Can Be”: I Do Boyles
Video: Act II Scene 5: Is there a Man, who all his Ways Directs (Chorus) 2023, February

Not much is heard about burlesque in Russia: most, when talking about him, remember Dita von Teese, pin-up and that's probably all. Burlesque shows have become the prototype of modern striptease, so today views on them differ sharply: some accuse them of objectifying and sexualizing women, others see them as an opportunity for self-expression and empowerment. Nevertheless, it is a large genre in which something new is constantly emerging. We talked with Ellisha Fox, the pioneer of the boylesque genre (from “boy” and “burlesque”, that is, male burlesque) in Russia about how this direction is developing, how much energy it takes and what body positive has to do with it.


Alexandra Savina


On the path to burlesque

Probably, everything went from childhood. Once, when I was five years old, in kindergarten all the boys were dressed up as bunnies, and one girl was dressed up as a chanterelle. I still remember her fluffy ponytail - I also really wanted to put on not these cardboard ears, but a cooler outfit. Over time, everything was forgotten, at school I was an ordinary kid. I come from a wealthy family, and maybe that's why they weren't particularly friendly with me: I dressed a little differently, tried to express myself. Then I was called to the theater studio - so I got the role of a cat in a school musical. Then there was the institute KVN and work with events. I have been inventing images and performances for a long time: I could not overcome the love of dressing up, transformation, self-expression, to show myself from the other side. Yes, and good.

Ten or fifteen years ago, I realized that I like androgynous images, and also elements of cosplay: ears, ponytails, and so on. I rode in different subcultures - fetish, furry - until I met the organizers of the show, in which I am now participating. Thanks to them, I got into burlesque. Anya Pavlova (Moscow and Berlin burlesque artist. - Approx. ed.) invited me to speak: she said that we have not developed a boyish at all, but it is necessary. I was shy - I am generally a person from sports, from dancing - but my soul asked, and I decided to do it. This is a new genre for Russia, and in Europe and the USA it has existed for thirty years for sure.

In the end, burlesque turned out to be exactly what I wanted. I really love to be on stage, to show myself, I love to be noticed. At the same time, it is important for me that everything looks professional. Maybe from the point of view of an ordinary resident of the Russian Federation in some images I look stupid, but I try to look aesthetically pleasing, it’s interesting that the worst thing they could say to me is: “Some freak is coming!” Going on stage, I overcome the constraint - and in this I catch a buzz.

About genre and aesthetics

We can say that burlesque is the progenitor of the genre, which was later called striptease. But this is a much more complex thing: not just a dance, but a story told in motion. Boylesque is the same burlesque, but guys are dancing. In principle, we are no different from burlesque, except that we have men. There are canons and rules: for example, in tribute to the genre, we also use pestis - nipple stickers.

There are more comedic performances, there are more dance performances. But in each of the numbers, we, like the girls, try to tell a story: make the viewer think or, conversely, laugh, rejoice. There are men who do not try to copy the "feminine" in their performances, but there are guys who dance in a more "feminine" manner - they use heels, more plastic movements.

Burlesque and drag have similar ironic underpinnings. But drag, as it seems to me, is more about playing on an exaggerated female demeanor, and burlesque is more about dancing. There is already someone in that much, moreover, I do not know of a single burlesque artist who would wear pads on the chest or hips, which are used by drag queens. We have male breasts and suits, even if they are covered with feathers and rhinestones. Drag is a separate art form.

A masculine burlesque can be associated with ideas of typically masculinity and masculinity, but this is not required. In the numbers, I always try to go on the edge: it is important for me to show the guy, but in extravagant outfits and, possibly, with "female" plastic. I offer a different perspective on what a man can be. Any burlesque includes eroticism and aesthetics. In my ideal view, if we talk about eroticism, a man looks exactly like this: a beautiful body, make-up and an interesting outfit.

About rooms

Burlesque is an absolutely body-positive genre. For example, Viv Clicquot came to us from Canada - she is a big, stately woman, she is already over fifty, and she has such charisma and plasticity - you will rock! It blows up the hall so! But to practice burlesque, you need to be able to move, learn to dance, exercise your body. It can be anything, but if you have weak muscles, you will not be able to go on stage and perform.

When in September 2017 I was invited to participate in the show, I immediately bought a subscription to the hall, made an agreement with a friend, a choreographer, and began to train hard. It was important for me that the audience did not say: "Well, okay, this is the first dude who went on stage in heels, we can forgive him certain things." A month before a performance, I train four to five, sometimes six days a week, including dance classes. I go to the gym at least three times a week.

Boylesque can be danced with bare feet or in heels. And there is, for example, a very famous burlesque artist Chris O'Hara - he is from ballet and performs on pointe. I dance in heels: I like the vogue style, so I include it in my performances.

Make-up is done by everyone, like drag queen. This also takes a long time to learn: to know how to emphasize facial features, how to apply shadows correctly, and so on. This is important to me - but there are also boylesque artists who don't really care about makeup. I have not seen artists who invite makeup artists to perform in Russia.

I make some of the costumes myself, I order something - I don't have enough skills and time for everything. I also have my main job: doing only boile and dancing in Russia is difficult to live, but I want to be able to go somewhere, go to restaurants, and so on. Therefore, they help me with the costumes. Of course, we discuss the design beforehand. Sometimes the idea of ​​an outfit grows out of the music - you hear the track and you understand that there is an image for it. But it also happens in another way: now I am preparing a number and there all the music was born, on the contrary, from clothes. In the dance world, making a good costume for less than twenty or thirty thousand will not work - and this is if you take it to a very minimum, for example, with cheap rhinestones and feathers from AliExpress. As a hobby, it is quite an expensive pleasure.

It takes a month and a half to prepare a piece - although if you do everything smoothly, then with a costume and choreography you need at least three. True, there is also a way out that I prepared in a day. Sometimes I act in the form of a poodle, and it was necessary to make an art performance for him with elements of dance and burlesque. I came up with the choreography and actions on stage literally overnight - and the next day I drove off to perform.

I don't know how to draw, but since my school years I wanted to show everything that happens in my head. My means of self-expression is myself: I can be a painting, an installation. The performance turns out to be good when you either experience those experiences that you act out on stage, or hooked them up with someone - then you can tell a truly inspiring story.

Now I have three main numbers. The one that started it all is called the "White Prince". This show is about a soloist who has been performing for a long time, conquering auditoriums, he is applauded by the largest venues in the world. The first part is in the Vogue style: the hero goes on stage and dances. After that, he goes to the dressing room, sits in a rather "masculine" position, pours himself a glass of whiskey, reads the newspaper, where it is written that Ellisha Fox conquered the Las Vegas auditorium.The hero thinks: why all this? Constantly the same thing, the audience, the performances - he, like any artist, may get tired of it. He approaches a large mirror with a glass and, seeing his reflection, recalls that he wanted to be exactly what he is now.

In this issue, I mixed my story, some dreams and experiences of a person who has been performing for a long time. The artistic life is a difficult, in some way just killer thing. I have friends who are touring the world, the same Anya Pavlova - she can have marathons when she performs twenty-five out of thirty days a month. And this is tough: almost every day you change clothes, put on makeup, perform, sleep for four hours - and drive on. But nevertheless, you remember that you like it, think about what inspires you, and move on - you dance and give pleasure to the audience.

My second number is the phoenix dance. It is about the desire to comprehend something new and reincarnate into another being: a phoenix, a magical bird, conjures and in the end is reborn into a person. This performance is more about choreography, plasticity. I have a very beautiful costume: a headdress made of feathers, wings. Now this exit has transformed into some kind of shamanic dance, into a story about inner freedom.

The third issue is about the poodle. This is a story that from childhood we strive for something that we consider good and right - but in achieving this, we lose childhood joy, spontaneity. In this issue, I go on stage in the form of a puppy who escaped from the mistress. The poodle suddenly realizes that he can walk on his feet, is reborn as a man, takes off his costume - that is, he is dancing burlesque. All that remains on me is the make-up, ears, ponytail. And then the hero begins to wonder why he became like this: maybe he never wanted to dance on stage and undress? I take a white shirt and put it on - it's an allegory of how I'm trying to change my life and become an office worker. But I realize that the only thing that was important in life was the path I chose. I have to be who I was born.

On the future of the genre and burlesque in Russia

Burlesque is very diverse, but there are two main branches: burlesque and neo-burlesque. Burlesque is everything that belongs to the classics. Dita von Teese is an icon of this particular style: corset, classic black hair, stateliness, chiseled body. Neo-burlesque is everything that is past the classics, you can go out even in a cucumber costume. Everyone is trying to invent something of their own. For example, in Russia there is a girl called Blanche de Moscou, she dances kinky-burlesque - there you can use, for example, a leather mask, pour milk on the body.

There is a small burlesque party in Russia, everyone knows each other. Notable girls, artists dancing burlesque, probably fifteen or twenty. There is the Ladies of Burlesque show - they invest a lot in the development of burlesque in Russia, in order to make it more recognizable.

I am a pioneer of bolesque, and it is important for me to set the tone for this genre - despite the fact that the audience in Russia is quite complex. Imagine: a guy goes on stage in a women's show, heterosexual people are sitting in the hall who think: "What is this all about?" It was very important for me to make the numbers so that any person would like it. This line also needs to be felt: Russian society is different, not the same as in Europe. I am not saying that we are generally intolerant, but we are less accustomed to this. I think that everything worked out for me, because after the performance, men came up to me, shook my hand, said: "Thank you for what you are doing!"

In order to show something new to the Russian, and indeed to any public, something new, it cannot be scared - this happens with any product that is brought to the market. When we were preparing the costume for the first number, I thought whether to make a thong, but decided that we probably won't do it for the first time - we took shorts so as not to injure the audience right away.

Almost all my friends know what I do. It is very difficult to be a burlesque artist without preparing your friends and the environment for what you are doing: it takes too long to hide it.It seems to me that I managed to make my environment - friends and even colleagues at the main job - treat this as an art. At the same time, I would not dare to go with a concert somewhere in Siberia - although Kirkorov goes.

Photos: Personal archive


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