It can be a political, social or comedic statement. The message is up to the performer because they come up with their own act including costumes and music to deliver their message. It’s different from classic burlesque in that in classic burlesque it’s just about a seductive reveal of the body without having a specific message.
Neo-burlesque kicked-off around the mid-1990s. Billie Madley in New York and Michelle Carr her Velvet Hammer Burlesque troupe in Los Angeles revamped the spirit of old burlesque with some feisty punk pizazz. Neo-burlesque “put the tease into striptease” and brought spectacle, comedy and art back to the stage. They created their own characters, designed and made their own costumes, and choreographed their own acts. Unlike old burlesque, these young independent performers were making shows that often appealed more to women than men. And so neo-burlesque became a thing.
When New York-based portrait, lifestyle, street and landscape assignment photographer Leland Bobbé heard about the resurgence in neo-burlesque he knew it was something he had to photograph. He was not interested in just documenting these artists’ stage performances. He wanted to “capture their creative costumes and stage persona in very real non-posed studio portraits.”
Bobbé put an ad in Craig’s List. Made some contacts, got some referrals and soon neo-burlesque performers were knocking on his door. He photographed these beautiful everyday performers between 2010-2012. See more of Leland Bobbé‘s beautiful photographic work here.