Crash Corset

A burlesque skeptic spends 10 sequined weeks learning the art of the tease—and how to make tear-away pants.

Headmistress Zora Phoenix wears 5-inch pumps and a black leotard. It’s a Saturday afternoon in January, and the drag queen is instructing us to walk to the mirror and “look sexy.” She demo   More
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 AARON SPENCER

Semester in Sequins #2: Bump and Grind

Burlesque wannabes get their first lesson in tease.


Arts & Books
"Just imagine you're wearing a huge strap-on dildo and you're tracing a circle on the wall."Zora Phoenix rocks her hips counter-clockwise in front of the class as she gives 14 burlesque wannabes their first dance lesson: how to bump and grind. Phoenix, whose real name is Chris Stewart, stands 6’2” in 5-inch pumps, stockings showing the full length of her legs. She tosses the hair of her red wig ...   More
Tuesday, January 21, 2014 AARON SPENCER

Semester in Sequins #6: Red Wedding Dress

A former opera singer strips down.


Arts & Books
Baby LeStrange stands before the Rose City School of Burlesque class in hamburger-print leggings and boots with gold, spiked toes. She’s teaching facial expression, a skill she’s exhibited onstage before while straddling a giant hot dog bun, but first, she wants to know our plans for our graduation solos. This is the first time we've discussed these solos, but the class already has ideas. ...   More
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 AARON SPENCER

Semester in Sequins #8: Wigging Out


Arts & Books
Savannah Smackdown, who is hungover from celebrating her 21st birthday the night before, walks with me into Wigland on Northeast Broadway. Smackdown, who acts older than she is but still doesn't have a driver’s license, recalls her dismal shopping trip days earlier. "I went to all the vintage and thrift stores and didn't find anything," she says. "It was the most horrible, desperate shopping trip ...   More
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 AARON SPENCER

Semester in Sequins #5: The Burlesque Name

The burlesque neophytes christen themselves.


Arts & Books
Forbidden names for new burlesque performers include Kitten, Kitty, Vixen and Honey, or anything with “Von” or “de Ville” or “Lux” or “Deluxe.” And, of course, Lolita. They’re overused, says Fannie Fuller, instructor at the Rose City School of Burlesque. “And when you start you want to be like, ‘This is me.’”Fuller knows this firsthand. As a burlesque ingenue in 2003, she ...   More
Tuesday, February 18, 2014 AARON SPENCER

Semester in Sequins #7: Captain Glitterbang

Facing down body anxieties in burlesque class.


Arts & Books
The Rose City School of Burlesque class gathers around instructor Meghan Mayhem, who’s demonstrating how to apply false lashes in the mirror. Mayhem, who earlier in the course whipped her blonde mane into a beehive in less than six minutes, says every performer needs at least three things: liner, lashes and shadow. Jason, one of three guys in the class, steps aside with me.  “A lot of what ...   More
Wednesday, March 5, 2014 AARON SPENCER

Strip Club Guide 2014

Don’t make it weird.

Strip Club Guide
Portland’s strip clubs are not like other strip clubs. It’s not that poles are more plentiful here than in other American cities—though they almost certainly are—they’re just, well, dif   More
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 MARTIN CIZMAR

Strip Club Guide 2014: It’s Not Stripping, It’s Burlesque

Or is it?

Strip Club Guide
Portland, correctly or not, is known for its per-capita plenitude of strip clubs. Its burlesque scene, however, still has a ways to go if it’s to top San Francisco’s or Seattle’s. We’re mo   More
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 AARON SPENCER

Semester in Sequins #1: Before the Burlesque Begins

Dance critic Aaron Spencer dives into burlesque's world of pasties, sequins and tear-away pants.


Arts & Books
Burlesque is a mainstay in Portland, from the fiery stages of Dante's to the nerdy trenches of Geeklesque. It's almost too popular, sometimes with more shows than the city can support—regularly scheduled shows have come and gone over the past few years, sometimes with life spans of less than a month.Still, the town keeps cranking out peelers, and that's largely thanks to one fabulous factory: the ...   More
Friday, January 17, 2014 AARON SPENCER

Willamette Geek: Lord of the Rings and The Dark Crystal Go Topless

Photos from Geeklesque Sallies Forth burlesque night


Critical Hit Burlesque—which has ben running Portland's nerdiest burlesque night, Geeklesque, for several years—got even nerdier last week, with a new night called Geeklesque Sallies Forth at the Star Theater. While Geeklesque has performers dressed in all manner of geeky attire—from video games to Star Wars characters—Sallies Forth focuses striclty of the fantasy genre. We sent photographer ...   More
Monday, February 6, 2012 WW Arts & Culture Staff


Web Design for magazines