One of the biggest names in modern burlesque is Dita Von Teese, but have you heard of Sophie Sucre, Bebe Bardot or Mae Rose. If you answered no, you’re not alone and Sophie Sucre is working to make sure you know the names of the performers in Philadelphia’s Black Burlesque scene. She put together a special show in honor of Black History month to celebrate African-American culture and rhythms through drag and burlesque.
A Great Day in Burlesque: An All-Black Drag and Burlesque Showcase celebrates Philadelphia’s Black Burlesque and Drag artists through a night of showing out in honor of Black history, present and future! The show takes place this Saturday, Feb. 8 at Franky Bradley’s in Center City.
Mae Rose is one the performers on the bill and is proud to celebrate her heritage through burlesque.
“I am so excited to be a part of it! This is a show comprised of our regions best and brightest, we all have a love and appreciation for burlesque but all approach it differently in terms of our narratives and dance styles,” Rose says.
In a city as diverse as Philadelphia one would expect to see that diversity reflected in the Philadelphia Burlesque scene but Rose says that is not always the case.
“The Philadelphia Burlesque scene is not diverse enough. There are still shows that book all-white casts. There still venues that have one night per month dedicated to not even Black performers but “Urban” nights. There are still producers who hire one or two Black or brown artists every other show. With as many Black burlesque, drag, and cabaret artists there are in the city there’s no reason for every cast of every show to not include a black artist,” she says.
Although the “mainstream” shows might not reflect the pool of talent here in Philadelphia, the are a number of groups springing up and showcasing the talents of not only African Americans but all people of color (POC).
“I’m happy that the ‘A Great Day in Burlesque: An All-Black Drag and Burlesque Showcase’ exists in addition to groups Raspberry Royale an all-Black/POC troupe, Melangerie is a show with an all POC cast and crew. Black Girl Magic is an all-Black monthly drag show,” says the West Philadelphia performer.
These artists are not stopping at doing shows they also want to educate their audience.
“Sophie Sucre has done an amazing job putting together this cast and crew for this show, in addition to the show there are two classes taking place on Sunday at The Philadelphia Burlesque Academy. There’s one by headliner Bebe Bardot on Shake Dance and another by Sophie on Black Burlesque History,” Rose says.