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Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Wink and a Smile

posted by on May 29 at 13:06 PM

Note to Burlesque haters: Stop reading here.

Miss Indigo Blue

A Wink and a Smile follows a group of women through Miss Indigo Blue’s Seattle Academy of Burlesque. Cheeky, sexy Indigo Blue is the star of the show, though we don’t see her dance much at all. She’s charming, intelligent, and comes across as a gifted teacher, but her extensive talking-head monologues, which form the backbone of the film, might have been better as voice-over narration to allow for more images of the students learning to bump, grind, and express their sexual selves. But that and too many visible-pore, way-too-close-ups of interviewees are my only nits to pick.

Generous footage of complete routines from local burlesque darlings like the Shanghai Pearl, Inga Ingenue, and Waxy Moon show the current range of local talent exploring the bleeding edges of the form, and Miss Blue delves a bit into the history of the tradition and her feminist philosophy. The short and sweet (90-minute) movie is loaded with eye candy, and well-chosen music (Circus Contraption, Pink Martini) keeps the mood light.

It’s a voyeuristic pleasure to watch women of varying ages, sizes, and backgrounds create a character and then costume and embody her. The story wraps up at graduation night at the Rendezvous Jewel Box, where the lusty ladies debut their routines for an audience. It all goes down well and there is palpable elation and relief on screen and in the theater.
Academy of Burlesque students on their way to graduation. (Hi, Rachel!)

The crowd at the Egyptian last night was full of burlesque-scene queens and kings, friends of the director, friends and families of the cast, and was predictably, joyfully raucous.

A Wink and a Smile plays again on Saturday at 4 pm. If you’re at all curious, go.

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This was one of my top picks, but unfortunately ran up against schedule conflicts. Should be fun ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | May 29, 2008 1:23 PM

There are haters against ladies doing sexy dances?

Posted by Gloria | May 29, 2008 1:34 PM

ah, miss indigo blue. i remember when she was amelia ross-gilson, working for chicken soup brigade and i was one of her volunteers. a joy to work with and for. good times.

Posted by scary tyler moore | May 29, 2008 1:35 PM

@2) Believe it or not, yes...

I've been photographing the local scene for the past three years and the performers are fabulous, the fans generally great and the haters... well the less said the better.

I actually put out a book of photos from Seattle performers last year called Tassels and Emeralds. There's a website and ordering info up at

I missed the opening and, ironically enough, I'll miss Saturday's showing because I'll be shooting a show. Timing!

Posted by Chris B | May 29, 2008 1:37 PM


We'd rather not moderate your comments, but off-topic, gratuitously inflammatory, threatening, or otherwise inappropriate remarks may be removed, and repeat offenders may be banned from commenting. We never censor comments based on ideology. Thanks to all who add to the conversation on Slog.

Posted by I see your boobie | May 29, 2008 1:57 PM

They're doin' it for our boys in uniform. This is what you're fightin' for, fellas.

Posted by JC | May 29, 2008 2:05 PM

I refuse to patronize burlesque establishments until this town gets a decent BOYlesque troupe....or more accurately, MANlesque.

Posted by michael strangeways | May 29, 2008 2:14 PM


Of course there are haters. There are (rightfully) haters for any flavor-of-the-moment, hipster fad.

I'm sure there are women who have been doing burlesque in obscurity for a long time before it hit the scene, and there will be women doing it for long after the ironic masses have moved on to their next cultural toy. These people have a passion.

The rest of the "scene" can fuck off.

Posted by A Non Imus | May 29, 2008 2:18 PM

"I refuse to patronize burlesque establishments until this town gets a decent BOYlesque troupe....or more accurately, MANlesque."

whew! millions of burlesque establishment patrons will sleep soundly tonight.

Posted by scary tyler moore | May 29, 2008 2:27 PM

I think it's a way for many women to feel sexy by getting attention from men. Kinda like strip aerobics for people who think that their retro 50's haircut is the same thing as having taste. I'd go so far as to say that the only difference between stripping and burlesque is the aesthetic differences in body type between the women.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | May 29, 2008 2:32 PM

"burlesque" is french for "load-bearing spandex."

Posted by abab | May 29, 2008 2:37 PM

What Bellevue Ave is trying to say, I think, is that strippers aren't generally fat.

Posted by A Non Imus | May 29, 2008 2:37 PM

abab: brilliant.

Posted by A Non Imus | May 29, 2008 2:40 PM

10: There's an old joke about that --

Q - What's the difference between a stripper and a burlesque dancer?

A - Fifty pounds.

(Hey, I didn't write it.)

Posted by Jason Josephes | May 29, 2008 2:45 PM

walking past a dumpster on the way to graduation.

Posted by max solomon | May 29, 2008 2:55 PM


And by your definition, of course, "fat" is any woman with a BMI of over 18.5. I mean look at all those fatties in that picture. Disgusting.

Posted by keshmeshi | May 29, 2008 2:57 PM

Ew! Pores.
The horror.

Posted by Becky | May 29, 2008 2:58 PM

Becky, it's not the pores that were distracting so much as the absurdity of so many extreme closeups; it's hard to listen to the words when the 20-foot wide mouth that takes up a third of the screen is moving in such a fascinating fashion... I spent many moments engrossed by the patterns in eyelashes or the carefully-painted boundaries of lipstick; not unpleasant but very distracting.

Posted by Amy Kate Horn | May 29, 2008 3:07 PM

actually compared to other towns I've seen burlesque in I would be hard pressed to call many a Seattle burlesque lady even chubby.

(the cost of academy of burlesque classes is what makes me puke a little in my mouth)

Posted by i am an evil easter bunny | May 29, 2008 3:10 PM

Burlesque dancers don't usually flap their cooter lips in your face, either. It's erotic, not pornographic.

Posted by Fnarf | May 29, 2008 3:13 PM

Hey, you hipsters!

Gitcher ironic flavor-of-the-month-fads off'n my lawn!

Posted by Surly Old Curmudgeon | May 29, 2008 3:14 PM


Yeah...I particularly like the guts on the two women in the foreground. Sexy.

Whatever, though. I'm a pig. Oink.

Posted by A Non Imus | May 29, 2008 4:08 PM

I wasn't trying to say that girls that are into performing burlesque dances are fat. I was merely pointing out that there is a difference in the appearance of the women who choose to strip and choose to do burlesque, but both are selling the same thing; sexual objectification of women.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | May 29, 2008 4:24 PM


I wasn't addressing my comments to you. But I'm not sure of any other ways that straight women are supposed to feel sexy. One's sexiness is supposedly based on what the object of your desire thinks, yes? And it seems like most of these women are taking the classes for their own personal amusement, not to try to become professionals.


Whatever. It's your choice. You're the one who isn't getting laid.

Posted by keshmeshi | May 29, 2008 4:32 PM

This might be my mental retardation showing but isn't that the point of strip aerobics? And would it be safe to say that some of the women who choose to dabble in burlesque for amusement look down on the girls that are doing something eerily similar but without the tattoos, hair,giant feathers, and warrant playing in the backround?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | May 29, 2008 4:39 PM

@22: I don't see their "guts", but I do see that you decided to wear your bitchface today!

Posted by Jessica | May 29, 2008 4:41 PM

whoops, without warrant playing in the backround

Posted by Bellevue Ave | May 29, 2008 4:43 PM


Maybe women who participate in burlesque do look down on strippers. I don't really know and I don't really care. It does seem, however, that women in burlesque, whether they do it professionally or not, seem to enjoy what they're doing. I don't know if the same can be said for most strippers.

Posted by keshmeshi | May 29, 2008 4:48 PM

If women who don't strip professionally take classes at the gym on how to do it, I don't think theyre doing it for the benefit of being called no talent whores later down the road

Posted by Bellevue Ave | May 29, 2008 4:53 PM

@24: well, I'm not sleeping with those particular women, anyway. They're all yours, and there's lots to go around, it seems.

@26: clever.

Posted by A Non Imus | May 29, 2008 4:55 PM

Hi Amy! I'm glad you liked the movie...can't wait to see it myself. xo

Posted by rachel | May 30, 2008 1:41 AM

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