Session 1, part 1: MCU on Disney Plus (1 hour, 50 minutes)
How is Disney+ handling the serial release of their once movie-only properties in a post Agent Carter/Agents of SHIELD world? Now available exclusively through the Disney streaming service, WandaVision and Falcon & Winter Soldier are challenging how fans watch superhero dramas from fan theories not panning out, choices made that effect theatrical releases, and having to keep up with all of the other movies and shows to enjoy them. WE discuss.
Session 2, part 2: WE on THEM (1 hour, 52 minutes)
The latest in black trauma drama is the limited series THEM, created by Little Marvin and executive produced by Lena Waithe. It is available on Amazon Prime Video, and is set in a somewhat supernatural version of the 1950s. This series was largely criticized by the Black community for its unrelenting plot points that all involve Black people suffering. WE discuss the problematic elements, and the age-old question of “Who is this for?” PLUS, other properties the guests recommend instead, and what they hope from an industry that brought us Lovecraft Country, Get Out, and Us, but has taken a step backwards.
– WE(nerd)lesque Roundtable is a creation of WEBurlesque Podcast Network, produced by Viktor Devonne
Viktor Devonne is joined by showgirl, educator, and producer extraordinaire Lili VonSchtupp, who produced the longest running burlesque show in Los Angeles. We talk her experience grinding on Norman Lear as Bea Arthur, being banned on TikTok, and restructuring the Hollywood Burlesque Festival in 2021 to celebrate the video vixens.
On this episode of WEBurlesque the Podcast, Viktor chats with Lilli Von Schtupp, legendary burlesque performer and the producer of both Monday Night Tease and The Hollywood Burlesque Festival.
Though Monday Night Tease has since been retired for several years, Lilli claims that running that weekly show for over a decade was some of the best work she has ever done:
LVS (12:30) “I managed to put a show together on Monday nights for enough years that everyone who wanted to take a shot at this had a chance to do that. If you remember anything, remember Monday Night Tease. Because that put hundreds of different performers on its stage.”
While the pandemic has been rough for all performers and nightlife folk, Lilli is happy that the internet has provided a new platform for burlesque. As someone who lives with disabilities and chronic illnesses, digital shows have given a new lease on a career that she was afraid she would have to end:
LVS (18:40-20:00) “I have some health issues..all of these things came to the point where it is a struggle to be on the stage, either to perform or emcee. And so I decided to take a step back and figure out what it is I wanted to do with my life…as I watch people return to venues, I’m extremely happy for them and I applaud them…but I’m also so happy that I have found something I can do online that I think will still be viable for me as an art.”
This new way of performing has not only influenced Lilli to start a digital series, Dinner and A Show Girl, it has also helped her make the decision to produce a Hollywood Burlesque Festival even during quarantine:
LVS (55:10) “So I made the decision that I am not doing a festival. And then I made the decision that that is not fair…so I decided to do a Hollywood and Southern California Film Festival…people went into a new industry, let’s validate that. For a year, people stepped out of their comfort zones and tried something new. “
Such open support of the community is something that Lilli is famous for. She makes a point of trying to cheer for everyone and insists that no matter your style, burlesque has a place for all if it is something you are interested in pursuing:
LVS (91:20) “There are so many ways to look at burlesque and there are so many different facets of it…but the idea is what is it you wanna tell? What is it that you love? For me, the only key thing is that clothes are probably coming off. If that’s happening, it’s burlesque to me. “
Despite the many challenges she has faced, Lilli still loves burlesque more than anything. She is thankful for all that she has experienced and hopes she will get to continue to do what she does best a little while longer:
LVS (94:20) “I can tell ya, if I never got on a stage again or performed again after the next show I have…I can tell ya I look back on this with some of the fondest, happiest memories I have of amazing people that I got to do really cool shit with. It’s been a ride, and I hope I never lose that perspective or joy.”
Kirby LaBrea is a stunning entertainer in the Los Angeles area, having won Mr Hollywood Burlesque in 2015 (and the one who placed the crown on Viktor Devonne’s head at his win in 2019). An extraordinary dancer, Kirby regularly incorporates flamenco into his boylesque and can been shimmying and singing at the Babylon Cabaret.
For this episode of WEBurlesque The Podcast, Viktor chats with Kirby LaBrea: singer, dancer, and Mr. Hollywood Burlesque 2015.
Some people have to struggle to get their families to accept that they want a career in the arts. For Kirby, it was more an expectation than anything else:
KLB (3:45) “Singing was first. My whole dad’s side of my family are professional singers and recording artists. Singing was the thing I felt was gonna be my family obligation…dance found me only because I thought singers are supposed to dance so I got to learn how to dance and when I learned it spoke a whole new language to me and enveloped me and consumed me.”
After years of working as a professional dancer, decided he wanted to get involved with burlesque as well. Though being a queer black man meant paving a trail for himself in the Californian scene, he saw it as way to make a niche in the industry specifically for himself:
KLB (13:40) “I knew that there was room for me. At that point I had to make my space in LA…I saw black female burlesquers, I saw black drag queens, but I didn’t see black boylesquers and honestly that made me think I can create an example of myself.”
This drive lead Kirby to a very successful career and he was eventually crowned Mr. Hollywood Burlesque in 2015. While others would see that as a pinnacle, Kirby saw his title as just the beginning:
KLB (15:45) “Even after being Mr. Hollywood, I still felt like I was climbing and searching for the confirmation I was relevant….just that I’m up there with the other people before me. I’ve always been a little insecure because I came into burlesque as a professional dancer and I didn’t want to look like I’m just a dancer trying to do burlesque….I want to get to the point of education in it that I’m educated in all my other forms of dance.”
Along with a need to always strive for more in the art form, Kirby admits that burlesque helped him express his queer identity in ways other forms of dance didn’t:
KLB (34:40) “Finding the strength to dance in heels was the first aspect of me kind of unleashing queerness whenever I step on stage. Because up to that point, I was performing my numbers to mostly straight audiences. So already I’m going to be the gayest thing in any show I’m in…once I got past the point of I can dance in heels…and being secure in my body and feeling sexy, that sort of challenged me to embrace every way I feel sexy.”
Even with the crossover to digital stages during the quarantine, Kirby has been doing his best to create the burlesque music videos of his dreams. Though it is an unfamiliar medium for many, Kirby believes digital shows are what is going to keep the spirit of performance art alive during this pandemic:
KLB (43:55) “I was really excited that so many virtual opportunities came up because at the beginning I had gigs just weeks away at the time….Immediately my thoughts were what are performances gonna be like or am I gonna perform at all? And then I got a virtual opportunity…When I did it, I saw that this was a possibility to keep the energy of live entertainment.”
It is no secret that both the pandemic and the non-stop public documentation of police violence has taken its toll on the black community through this past year. But rather than be disheartened, Kirby sees the response of BIPOC communities as a reason to work even harder to have his work shine as bright and as visible as it can:
KLB (57:45) “Most of the time I’m just showing that I’m black queer and confident and you can’t take that. I feel a very deep responsibility with (my life and art) that not only do black lives matter, but all black lives matter.”
– recorded on March 12, 2021 | call hook: @seraphinawilder
Viktor Devonne is on the phone with NYC’s gorgeous and talented Twinky Boots of Members Only Boylesque. From his start in Kentucky to the ensemble of Broadway Bares and headlining The Laurie Beechman Theater, Twinky Boots is an accomplished dancer and model who snagged the “Peachy Keen: Best Bottom” Silver Tusk Award in 2020. Members Only, co-produced by Milo Pony, won the 2020 Cabaret Award for Best Burlesque Show, which has transitioned to the digital realm (for now) with regular host Jackie Cox of RuPaul’s Drag Race fame, and some of the hottest and scantily clad gentlefolk in the biz.
– recorded on March 6, 2021 | call hook: @FemAppeal
Viktor Devonne returns to the airwaves with his very special first guest, Egypt Blaque Knyle from Los Angeles. Egypt is a multi-award winning burlesque entertainer, traveling showgirl, and healer. The Mother of the House of Knyle details her story from the gangs in South Central to Disneyland ensemble to the strip clubs in L.A. to the crowns and sashes she has claimed. One of WEBurlesque’s most candid, accomplished artists featured thus far on this podcast, Egypt is the newest addition to the WEBurlesque Podcast Network, with her “Check In with Egypt” conversation reels available on IG Tuesdays and on this feed on Wednesdays.
– recorded on March 11, 2021 | call hook: BellaSinCLE