New Orleans burlesque performers (past and present) dominate 21st Century Burlesque top 10

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Three burlesque performers with New Orleans connections made the top 10 of the 21st Century Burlesque readers’ poll — the final results of which was were published Sunday (Jan. 31).

Kitten La Rue, who got her start with the Shim Shamettes in the late 1990s before moving away, shared the No. 1 spot with her partner Lou Henry Hoover for their Kitten N’ Lou act. Perle Noire, who got her start with Rick Delaup’s Bustout Burlesque before moving to New York City, repeated her No. 2 finish from 2015. And Bella Blue was voted No. 8 in the poll of the top 50 burlesque performers. (Blue was voted No. 16 in the 2015 poll.)

Fellow New Orleans performer Charlotte Treuse was voted No. 46 in the poll.

La Rue hails from Ruston, in north Louisiana with several relatives in New Orleans. (Her father is musician Papa Mali.) She literally woke up to the news Sunday; the duo is in Australia. She was thrilled to learn of the honor:

My New Orleans roots, starting as an original member of The Shim Sham Revue, was instrumental in creating the foundation for my career. It taught me from the get-go what a fully produced and polished spectacle could look like; that details like fabulous costuming and thoughtful choreography can go a long way; and, most importantly, it gave me an understanding right away of the importance of our burlesque history and the incredible knowledge and wisdom our legends hold and can impart. My New Orleans roots also guide me in imparting a sense of joy and comedy in my performance.”

There were multiple connections among the various New Orleans-related performers. Kitten N’ Lou performed at Bella Blue’s “CREAM!” show at One Eyed Jacks in 2015 during Southern Decadence over Labor Day Weekend. Along with her ties to Bustout Burlesque, Perle Noire, one of the most honored burlesque performers in the world and who’s toured with Dita Von Tease, performed at Bella Blue’s “Risq” show in 2015 at Harrah’s New Orleans Casino. (I should add that the magazine noted that Noire commented on my story about burlesque and race in 2015.) Several of the top 50 performers, including Charlotte Treuse in 2015, have at one time performed at Delaup’s New Orleans Burlesque Festival. Noire won in its inaugural year.

It was particularly interesting to see Kitten La Rue win as part of a duo with Hoover, given that the Shim Shamettes were at the forefront of the New Orleans burlesque revival. 21st Century Burlesque was impressed with their success in 2015, and their versatility, saying, among other things:

Kitten ‘n’ Lou headlined at the Humboldt Burlesque Expo, the Calgary International Burlesque Festival, the Las Vegas Burlesque Festival, the Toronto Burlesque Festival, Viva Las Vegas Burlesque Showcase and the Dallas Burlesque Festival. They also won two Golden Pastie awards at the New York Burlesque Festival. They were featured in the Huffington Post and premiered their first evening-length show OVEREXPOSED! at Fringe World Festival Perth and Joe’s Pub in New York.”

The poll noted several highlights from 2015 for Blue, among them:

“Bella headlined The Great Burlesque Exposition in Boston, The Vienna Boylesque Festival, The Oklahoma City Burlesque Festival and The Snake Oil Festival. The New Orleans School of Burlesque opened its own studio after a successful Go Fund Me campaign, and she started producing new show “Risq: A Burlesque Revue” at Harrah’s Casino in New Orleans (alongside regular shows “The Dirty Dime Peepshow,” The NOSB Student Showcase, “Strip Roulette” and “The Blue Book Cabaret”).”

Chicago’s Jeez Loueez, a frequent visitor to New Orleans, finished No. 4.

Blue recently announced the formation of her new troupe, Foxglove Revue. She also rode as the Queen of the Krewe of PUEWC in the Chewbacchus parade Saturday. She recently was voted one of New Orleans’ top 10 performers as well.

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