Burlesque performers find a home among female artists


Each year, you will find painters, artists, photographers, and musicians at SWAN Day CT, which will be held March 30 this year.
But, each year, you will also find a bevy of burlesque performers.
A burlesque performer, with performances that flash a little skin and offer a bit of a tease,  may seem out of place in an arts festival that celebrates the power of women… especially with burlesque’s roots in vaudevillian halls with audiences full of catcalling men.
But as SWAN Day founder Jennifer Hill explains the burlesque performers at SWAN Day aren’t your great-granddaddies’ burlesque artists.
“Well, SWAN Day CT is about supporting women artists (NOW), and since (burlesque performers) are artists in their own true right they are a welcome part of the event and have been since the inception,” explained Hill, a Bristol native.
“I have always been drawn to strong beautiful women and the time and effort that goes into their acts and costumes is amazing,” said Hill. “They are like living pinups. They ‘empower’ all of us by showing that no matter your size or age or body type, if you are confident you are beautiful.”
As for what the burlesque acts bring to the creative table at SWAN Day, Hill explained, “I just think it’s an art form that has been re-emerging for the past decade and since I personally am a fan and former performer, I decided to include it in my event.”
Despite its roots as something that mostly appealed to a male audience, these days, burlesque is applauded primarily by a female crowd.
“I think it’s the fact that these women are free,” explained Hill. “They are beautiful no matter what their bodies look like, and they ooze confidence and sexuality. They also have really amazing costumes, usually self-made or self-altered to create the perfect vision to go with their act.
And the response to the performers has been overwhelming positive at SWAN Day, said Hill. “Everyone loves the burlesque acts. It is a high point. I actually shut everything else down when burlesque happens. It’s 45 minutes of theater for your viewing, tantalizing pleasure.”
There are a bevy of burlesque performers across the country. But when Hill picks the line-up for SWAN Day, she said, “I look for confidence and a good show. They are performers just like bands and artists, etc. There are some amazing people out there and there are people who are still honing their craft.
This year, Hill said, SWAN Day has pulled in a whole new cast of burlesque artists: Victoria Van Layer from Beat City Beauties, Mistress Leona Star, Harley Foxx, and Miss Haggerty.
Previous years’ performers, she explained, have been pulled away this year by the Boston Burlesque Expo, which she likened to the SXSW of burlesque. “It’s sad to not have them there to carry the torch, since they are my lucky charms, but I am so proud of what they have accomplished… I’m rooting for the ladies of SWAN Day CT to kick some burlesque butt in Boston.”
Beyond burlesque this year, Hill said, “We have a great line up of bands. Many are winners or nominees from this year’s Connecticut Music Awards. (For samples of their work, go to http://www.reverbnation.com/swandayct.)

The schedule
In the downstairs pub:
6 p.m., Amalgamated Muck
6:50 p.m., Sue Mead
7:40 p.m., Sarah Lemieux
8:30 p.m., Hells Bells Skit
9 p.m., Luck E Thirteen
9:50 p.m., And Band
11:30 John Torres

In the ballroom:
6:40 p.m., Nicki Mathis
7:25 p.m., Canyon
8:05 p.m., Becky Kessler with special guest
8:50 p.m., Post Modern Panic
9:35 p.m., Jennifer Hill and Co.
10:10 Burlesque
10:40 p.m., Atrina
11:30 p.m., Farewood
12:15 p.m., The Dirty Gems

Artists, too
As for the artists showing their work this year: Hill said, “The artists are definitely at another level this year. Kerry Kennedy will be painting again this year. BlissNinja ShamanPunk is a patchworker and intuitive seamstress, using upcycled clothing and materials to create one of a kind, original, and unique pieces of wearable art and will be selling her clothing. Artist Jaime Krikscuin will be featuring handmade pendants made of feathers in between glass as an homage to SWAN Day CT The list of artists is over 25 women long and includes everything from paint, photography, jewelry, clothing, and glasswork to vintage finds and one of a kind pieces made just for this event.”
Swan Day CT is Saturday, March 30 at Kelley’s Pub, 69 North St., Manchester.
For tickets, go to www.showclix.com/event/SWANDAYCT2013. They are $20 online and $25 at the door. There are VIP tickets as well where you can sit at a table in the ballroom. They are only available on-line and are limited.
For additional information about SWAN Day CT, go to http://www.facebook.com/swandayct
Comments? Email mchaiken@BristolObserver. com.

The official symbol for SWAN Day CT 2013.
The official symbol for SWAN Day CT 2013.
Victoria Van Layer is among the burlesque performers at this year’s SWAN Day CT on March 30 in Manchester.
Victoria Van Layer is among the burlesque performers at this year’s SWAN Day CT on March 30 in Manchester.
Burlesque performer Mistress Leona Star is on the bill for SWAN Day CT.
Burlesque performer Mistress Leona Star is on the bill for SWAN Day CT.