The Latin rhythm takes hold of you as soon as you hear the beat and here they come, these grand costumed Vedettes doing the cha cha or the mambo on stage. They glide, bump and grind, holding you in their grip for the whole number, leaving you filled with an infectious happiness.
This is what we felt watching this year's Titan's of Burlesque Showcase at the 60th Annual Reunion at Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekender.
The Latina Legends Performing and Walking were:
Viva La Fever
Gina Bon Bon
Latina Legends are amazing women who brought their culture to America and became stars of the burlesque stages all over the world, paving the way for hundreds of Mexicanas, Latinas, Latinx, Hispanas and Afro Latinas to dance thru those doors. These are Legends like Ezi Rider, Kitten Natividad, Gina Bon Bon, Di Alba, Gypsy Louise, Lola Foxx, Viva La Fever, Marinka, Julie Mist & Suzette Fontaine here in America.
In Mexico, Lyn May, Princesa Yamal, Olga Breeskin and Wanda Seux reigned from the 60s to the late 70s and have been revived in the Netflix documentary Beauties of The Night. These unapologetic Latinas and Mexicanas set off to conquer the market everywhere they went with lavishly bright and beautiful costumingand with the flavor of our gente, which made them an absolute joy to watch.
The Queen of The Amazons
At 78, Marinka, the 6’ foot statuesque sweetheart, is currently living in Las Vegas, NV.
A daughter of Spanish citizens, her and her family immigrated to the U.S. 8 months after Castro took over Cuba. She remembers Castro’s revolution happening in her teenage years, which led her to hold on to her spaniard traditions, specially through the uncertain political times in Cuba. Quite protective of the 19 year old statuesque Marinka, her parents, originally from Sevilla, would reminisce the celebrations of La Cruz de Mayo, one of the few times she could dance and enjoy the beautiful music and food before the darker days came.
Marinka immigrated to New York City in 1959, encouraged by her father who passed in 1958. “He knew what was coming”, she states in a low voice, so her and her family called New York City their home, never to return to Cuba.
She entered a beauty pageant that won her a spot in the Powder Puff Revue, where she was paid the handsome sum of $125 for four days of work. This was quite a surprise to the young factory worker who usually earned $36 for a 40 hour work week.
She recounts that in the old days, “they hired you because you had a good act”. She says “as a white passing performer, they never thought I was latina”. People could not pinpoint her heritage completely but there was always an atmosphere of discrimination towards women of color. She states that “the black women got horrible treatment in some theaters. We helped protect them but sometimes if was not enough”. She adds that “if you were latina, they made you work quite harder to have success”. Remembering Yolanda Moreno, a dancer who was famous in her time and achieved great success as a feature, she recalls using songs like Perez Prado’s Cerejos Rojas and Besame Mucho by Consuelo Velasquez. Marinka has a lot of love for Mexican culture, specially La Doña Maria Felix, a staple of the golden era of cinema in Mexico, and mentions meeting her a few times during her lifetime, dearly describing the Doña as a fashion icon.
She was in burlesque 35 years and traveled all over the world from United States, Mexico, Europe and The Middle East. She never really thought of retirement as things changed and work became less, she never says "You can't never leave something you love so much"
She attended in what we all refer to the goat farm "Exotic World Reunion" and still is how called "Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekender".
She never thinks of age or limitations, She goes and says "This is who i am, this is what i bring you and this is what she does" Marinka The Amazon now is working on a biography now as a book.
She leaves our latin community with these words
"Burlesco is something you feel, is theater, is a beautiful thing, is something that in her time was a marble and it took you every where you wanted to go. Knowing now of days the market is small but thanks to all of us new kids that are continuing the traditions she is grateful because it still existing and so are the legends."
Marinka says Thank you to every one that is wonderful and has so much to offer.
This Festival seeks to provide a new space for Mexicanas, Latinas, Latinx, Afro Latinas and Hispanics in the burlesque industry where they usually lack representation. We sat down with festival producer Lily LeCroix to learn more about it!
and she stated "I started this festival as a way to celebrate all Latinx/Mexicanas/ Afro Latinas and Hispanic Burlesque performers. When I started burlesque I did not see a festival catered to mi gente or even burlesque shows ". Her first venture in 2014 was a Latin Burlesque Festival in Dallas which was successful. Due to unfortunate events she launched a completely different venture in her new state of Florida. Since the Latin Burlesque Festival there have been a few small all latina/latinx produced shows such as De Colores Cabaret, produced by Ruby Rounds and the Hispanic Burlesque Showcase, produced by Bella Sin, along with a few others in 2016 and 2017, but they are still few and far in between.
Lily expects to bring a renewed visibility and recognition for our Latin and Hispanic Burlesque legends given that it was hard for them to be visible as Latinas back in their time as well as visibility and recognition for our present and future burlesqueros in this industry and hopes are strong that it will spread to other industries.
It's the first annual INTERNATIONAL LATIN AND HISPANIC BURLESQUE FESTIVAL!
This festival is an international celebration of the Latinx and Hispanic culture with a splash of sex appeal! I'm very proud of this festival. It’s a family reunion!
Lola Coquette, Bella Sin, Bianca Dagga and Burlesque Legend Julie Mist. Let's get to know a bit about them and the producer.
I feel when I first started burlesque, there were few references to Latino(a) performers unless you look at old grind house movies. Even burlesque history and pin-up culture were very whitewashed. As I started to delve into burlesque I fell in love with discovering our Latina Legends & pioneers and have even fortunate enough to have them share their stories with me and guide me. Growing up in Nogales, Arizona, I never quite felt like I fit in to either Mexican or "American" culture. I played in a Mariachi but also in punk band. I danced ballet Folklorico but also classic ballet, contemporary and jazz on the high school pomline. I was too "white-washed" for the traditional Mexican community but too "Mexican" for American culture. I spent so much time trying to assimilate to white culture and deny my roots. Burlesque has brought my back to having orgullo for my cultures and my ethnic backgrounds. I love that I can blend it in with classic bump and grind, neo or comedy to offer it to my audiences. I feel as every performance I am blessed with, I am given a chance not only to know another layer of my as a burlesque performer but as representative of my culture. All this has given me a spotlight and a stage to educate and promote our culture and bring up questions of ethnic/culture/social issues. And nothing more could solidity this growth than by winning the Best Representation of Latin Culture at the 2014 Latin Burlesque Festival and being published in Latin Magazine September 2014 Issue.
Sin is an activist, instructor, historian, actress, and philanthropist - and is known throughout northeastern Ohio for revitalizing local Burlesque. Her achievements and credentials have been praised in numerous publications and the “All That Glitters’ documentary on burlesque. Besides being a dancer, Sin is also a model, LGBTQ community volunteer, and teacher – inspiring an array of aspiring dancers and performers. She is honored to have had her premiere project; the Ohio International Burlesque Festival officially recognized by both civic and state officials. Sin works diligently to promote, grow, and save Burlesque history in the rustbelt region of Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Detroit.
She always choreographed her own shows, and after leaving the Club Juana in 1988 went on to feature in clubs and theaters in Miami. She finished her career in Zurich, Switzerland in 1991 at the Terrasse Night Club.
Nelson Lugo, The Charming Trickster, is a magician, raconteur, former ringmaster for the Big Apple Circus, retired burlesque impresario and burgeoning grifter. Known for heartfelt illusions and wry vaudevillian honesty he is a noted and celebrated performer in the underground NYC and East Coast cabaret scene. He co-created “Vaudeville Nouveau” that ran for two years. He also co-created "EPIC WIN Burlesque” that provided pop-culture inspired entertainment that ran for four years. Operating from his vision - Nelson, alongside a small team of dedicated producers, created the very first Nerdlesque Festival. He has written three solo shows and is writing a series of steampunk inspired children's books.
About Lily LeCroix
Lily LeCroix is the "Caribbean Mamasita of Burlesque". This fireball is the producer of No Mija Productions. She is also the Executive Director for Fuego Danza Company
Lily has had a love affair with dance and performance since she was old enough to shake her hips! Her training on stage started with The Caribbean Dance Company Of The Virgin Islands. Her first love was Bellydancing, then Cabaret Burlesque which she began back in 1999. Lily has perfected her performances as her love affair with the Art of Burlesque flourished in 2013. She has studied as a “faux queen” (a female “drag queen”) where she learned all the stage secrets of over-the-top glamour. She is also the creatrix for LeCroix Creations. She is always surrounded by feathers or rhinestones designing one of a kind Headdresses, Feather Backpacks and much more!
Lily is fluent in both Spanish and English.
Feel free to contact her at LatinandHispanicBurlyFestival@gmail.com
Check out vedettes latinas, latinx, mexicanas, afro latinas and hispanos giving some sazon to the burlesquera movement internationally. From Brazil, Argentina to Mexico, Canada and all over the United States burlesqueras are out representing in a fantastic way!
When she is not day dreaming about pet ownership or reading up on design theory you can find her performing across the city of Chicago. She's a spicy dish leaving you hungry for more, The Tex-Mex Minx, Vivi Valens.
As a Queer Chicana artist Lucy found love and inspiration in Burlesque seven years ago. Through burlesque, she lives her dream of being a performer and through the art of tease reclaimed her body in more ways than one. It has been a healing and growing experience for her and she hopes to continue celebrating her heritage and love for the arts with the rest of the world.
She is also the winner of Burlypicks International Legend's Award 2017.
Colorado Springs, CO
Albuquerque, New Mexico
She's Frida Fondle, but expensive to take home! Originally from Lima, Peru, Frida is a graduate of Miss Indigo Blue's Academy of Burlesque. She co-founded Olympia's Own Tush! burlesque in 2009, where she performed on the stages of The South Sound until 2013, when she semi-retired her performing to complete her Master Degree, and a subsequent career in Public Administration. She has been emceeing for Rock Candy Burlesque on a semi regular basis since 2014 and became an official troupe member in early 2017. Frida recently emceed an all Latin Review, De Colores Canaret, in Portland, Oregon. Frida is embracing this new found way of connecting to the audience and enjoying a continued way being a part of the burlesque community.
Egypt has worked in the naughty entertainment field for many years exotic dancing worldwide as a Headliner. Now embarking on a new journey Egypt debuted herfirst Neo Burlesque routine “The Question of You” in the Monday Night Tease Exotic
Titty Prince Review after graduating from the Lili’s School for Wayward Girls in 2012.
Las Vegas, NV
Latino Heritage in Burlesque 2015
Latino Heritage in Burlesque 2016