Get Out of Your Parents' Basement for some Nerdlesque: Browncoats Burlesque

“The definition of a Browncoat is a rebel,” affirms Del Roba of Ottawa’s Browncoats Burlesque. “We as a group, even if we intended something to be "classic burlesque," you would be able to see the stamp of the Browncoats on it. We have an amazing way of making something uniquely Browncoats Burlesque. Perhaps a lot of sex appeal with an overtone of appreciation for where each one of us comes from. Be it a fantasy nerd or book worm or even music junkie. Together we embrace all facets of Burlesque and without intention the nerdlesque pours from our souls. Oh and we have the best Star Wars cookies around!”

In a city with a burgeoning burlesque scene, Browncoats Burlesque sets itself apart by presenting shows that combine a variety of acts. “We do classical burlesque, as well as a number of forms of neo-burlesque, such as nerdlesque and boylesque. We also have vaudeville, comedy, belly dancing, bollywood dancing, hula dancing, and fetish performances, to name a few.” A big troupe sporting 14 members (Beau Regarde, Bella Barecatt, Bessie Mae Mucho, Del Roba, Foxie DeVille, Gypsy, LaRoux, Johnny Scratch, Lana Lovecakes, Lila Livewire, Luvy Damnit, Princess Playia, Ricky Menage, Shade Nyx, and Z. Rush), they started performing as individuals but came together around their shared “story-telling, comedic, just all around fun style.”

Nerdlesque? Everybody has some level of nerd in them, be it for music, comic books, movies or even sex. Bringing out that inner nerd is what Browncoats Burlesque is all about. “[Nerdlesque is] a combination of two previously "fringe" cultures into something that celebrates both,” reveals Del Roba. “It embraces the inner (and outer) nerd in a form of old school burlesque. Lots of glitz, sex and laughter, and Batman! It lets Nerds and the like know that, yes, they can be sexy and suave and all those good things, while still enjoying video games or comics or science fiction or... well the list goes on really. In other words, it's damn fun!”

Incorporating nerdlesque into their shows reveals the troupe’s overall acceptance attitude toward performance and sexuality. “Burlesque allows individuals to express their sexuality in an artistic fashion whichever way they choose. It's open to anyone, regardless of the gender presented or ethnic identity, and there are no restrictions on how an act should be. It shows sexuality as something that can be celebrated and made fun, instead of being kept in a closet and neglected.” The Browncoats find burlesque to be a refreshing change from the unlimited access we have to porn and nudity. Burlessque is exciting without being as brazen as many parts of pop culture is. “It’s refreshing to be part of a movement where baring your shoulder can elicit as enthusiastic a response as a crotch shot.”

The troupe recently performed their first solo, full-length show, which was a major milestone. From that success, they look to build their reputation in Ottawa and eventually hope to travel to some of the burlesque festivals across North America. “Not only to be able to perform to new audiences, but to be able to see all the exciting acts and performers from all over would be such a thrill. We would probably set up performances in places where we can geek out together on the side and see things like the Rocky Balboa statue in Philly or the up and coming Robocop statue being built in Detroit.”