Latinos have been celebrating Hispanic Heritage month thru the highlight of many different community members in the United States, Latinos have a beautiful colorful history and that is including burlesque. Legends like Gina Bon Bon a Cuban performer began her career in burlesque in NYC in 1965, as a dancer in the chorus line of the Latin Fire All-Latin Revue. She has since worked clubs and theaters all over the U.S., Canada and Guam, including a co-starring role in Burlesque USA alongside legendary comedian Red Buttons and singer/dancer Robert Alda (Alan Alda‘s dad) and feature engagements with Minsky’s Follies, the Chicago Playboy Club, and Cabaret Las Vegas. Marinka The Amazon, Ezi Rider, Di Alba, Kitten Natividad and more.
We reached out to some Latin Burlesquers- And Asked How do you bring burlesque and
Latino culture together?
Location- New York City
Your Heritage- Afro/ indigenous Puerto Rican and indigenous Chilena, culturally raised Nuyorican. My mother's side is from the island of Vieques in Puerto Rico and my father's side is Mapuche, (indigenous from the Andean mountains of Chile.)
it is so important to me to stay true to my roots in my performances. I use aspects of my latin upbringing in every act. Aspects such as dance influence, rhythmic movements, that certain fuego in my presence, and hip gyrations. The hip gyrations and undulations is often perceived to be a sexual gesture especially in burlesque but in my Puerto Rican culture, it is part of the custom to dance like that, even at young prepubescent ages. In Latin culture dance is a means to tell stories, and it is the same with burlesque. I won Princess Of Latin Burlesque at the Latin Burlesque Festival with a tribute act to my Nuyorican roots. Growing up with my abuela and abuelo they would play boogaloo which is a fusion of Puerto Rican salsa and american soul & r&b music of the 50's and 60's. That originated when musicians from Puerto Rico came to New York in the 50s and found the r&b and jazz clubs in Harlem and naturally the collaboration of both genres was born. Right now I am working on creating a Bomba act. Bomba is another genre of music from Puerto Rico. It is traditional heavy percussion based music that is a call and response between the drummers and dancer. It is a spiritual and political release/ expression that originated when enslaved Africans in Puerto Rico used the style of music and dance as a means of rebellion and uprising as well as celebration and to create identity and community. In the future I would love to do a tribute performance for my Mapuche Chilean side. There is incredible music and stories that originate in that culture. I have spent a lot of time at Pow Wows learning about my dad's people of the Andes, as well as listen to his stories of his time there. I'm excited to represent my Hispanic culture not only in every day life, but in burlesque!
Heritage: Mexican/American aka Chicana
As a Chicana, I have always had a place in my heart for my heritage and cultural roots. I began learning the traditional dances of Mexico at the age of 7 and soon it became a big part of life. Once I started exploring the beauty and artistic freedom that is burlesque, ideas of enveloping both dance forms came to mind. One of my signature acts called Aztec Reyna, is a neo-traditional burlesque act that consists of a fusion of Danza Azteca, Cumbia, and rock n roll. I decided to use traditional Azteca regalia to share the authenticity and beauty of that time in history. There are so many different and beautifully rich subcultures for each state in Mexico. My goal is to share all of it with the audience one act at a time.
Location- Phoenix, Arizona
Your Heritage- Mexicana, Sonoran Yaqui, and Sur Americana Mix
I have an extensive background in various forms of Latin American dance, from Latin Ballroom to Mexican Folklore, Brazilian Samba, Cumbia, Merengue, Salsa, and Tex Mex. Thanks to my diverse ethnic background I grew up being fluent and educated in five languages- English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and French and being very educated on Latino History I have not only been a burlesque performer for five years but also an instructor, and when I teach a class, I bring in Latin culture not only through physical dance movement but the langue and history associated which each type unique dance.
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.
Location: Austin, Texas by way of San Antonio, Texas
Your heritage: Mexican American
The majority of my performances are derived from some part of my culture. The music I use is primarily Latino, whether it be Tejano/ Polka, Conjunto, Banda, Cumbias, corridas, or norteno. If the music is not Latino, then my dancing and my costuming reflect my culture. For example, my latest performance is to American music, but has been heavily influence by my childhood, dancing as a matachine to Our Lady of Guadalupe. I am extremely proud of my heritage and wish to share how beautiful it is with my audience as much as possible.
Location: Allen, Texas
Heritage: Puerto Rican
I bring Burlesque and my culture together by producing Latin burlesque festival and shows and I am also the director of a Latin fusion dance company in DFW metroplex, Texas. I enjoy sharing different Latin style dances with our audience.
The adelita is my favorite memory of Mexico i have, I admired those women along with the elegance of El Baile Folklorico dancers with the energy they give on stage. I feel my goal is to represent the idols of my youth in with great energy and costumes. I often have to tell people am from Mexico born and raise at times is hard to not be considered Latin but i have found more and more as i grow older my color does not define my heritage. I love being Mexicana and i like to tell people how amazing our food and traditions are thru burlesque. Every year i know that i have really inspired other Hispanic performers to tell their stories.