Capturing Lightning with High Voltage Burlesque

“We rock a mean, high-octane ensemble number to our theme song “Danger! High Voltage!” enthuses Faryn Fireball of Kingston’s High Voltage Burlesque. “We also have a great carnival number featuring a lovely lady lion, a dominatrix trainer, a naughty clown, a ridiculous ringmaster and a boozy ballerina. Our style is very eclectic—the music, costumes, moves and characters are all over the map and yet cohesive when we’re all together.”

Like many other things in life, great collaboration usually starts when people are engaged in another activity. Faryn was involved in a guerrilla fashion show at Queen’s University, which led to a Spring Cabaret, which lead to wanting to perform more and more. “After that magical night where I shared the stage with brilliant performers (including my sister, Betty La Bomba), I couldn’t stay away from burlesque. But solos are only so much fun and I longed to have a posse decked in sequins head-to-toe to create some amazing numbers with. And through a mixture of friend-of-a-friend word-of-mouth and someone Googling 'burlesque Kingston' a troupe formed.”

Joining Faryn in this electrifying troupe are Miss Mae Oh My, Lacey Knickers, Buxom Betty and Sweet Caryselle. Together this dynamic group has been the spark that is creating the Kingston burlesque scene. While it isn’t easy being the creators of a community, High Voltage are doing just that as they bring burlesque to Kingston. “Besides us, the cabaret folks and the occasional touring show that comes through, there’s not much else. It makes it pretty hard to find venues and produce shows. But this can be a good thing, though, as we are able to carve out what the scene looks like.”

A big part of what High Voltage Burlesque wants the scene to be is one of acceptance and diversity across the gender/race/body spectrum. “We can ensure that our work is challenging and empowering our audience and staying away from the reinforcement of the scary prescribed ideas of gender/race/body.” Through burlesque shows, and her Burlesque 101 workshop, Faryn relates that “the biggest thing has been recognizing that sexy does not exist solely for one certain body—all bodies are beautiful. It’s about setting your own terms of sexuality, defining what’s okay and what’s not, showing yourself in a consensual manner—and I think this all translates to the bedroom too.”

As their eminence in Kingston grows, High Voltage Burlesque is planning more and more events. Coming this fall is a Kingston Showcase and an event called Burlesque YOUniversity: Get School’d. “We will be bringing in other brilliant minds of burlesque from surrounding areas to do workshops and it will end in the evening with a showcase of their talent, our talent and of course the burlesque class graduates. We want to continue to make burlesque in Kingston a vibrant form of self-expression and entertainment.”