Georgia Hollywood Review March 2020


My Adventures in Burlesque By She l l i e Schma l s

on Broadway. She was just like me; a spunky kid with an optimistic heart who loved her puppy dog. I was born to play that role! Going to clue you all in on a little tidbit about myself: I can’t sing. Can’t keep a tune, can’t keep a note, and there’s no audience alive who would pay to hear me vocalize. In these adult years, my singing has turned into a special form of performance art reserved only for karaoke and car rides by myself. Then there was Fame . Fame was a soap opera set to a soundtrack. I can still hear Debbie Allen’s opening lines, “You got dreams? You want fame?” Yes, I do have dreams, I do want fame. “Well fame costs, and right here’s where you start paying. In sweat.” Sign. Me. Up. I was willing to put in the work, do the time, and sweat all the sweat. But as my parents were consistent in reminding me, pulling me back into reality, the New York High School of the Performing Arts didn’t exist. At least it didn’t for me. I wouldn’t have gotten in anyway. My six months of ballet in first grade didn’t exactly make a me trained dancer. I’m also pretty awful at memorizing choreography. Then there was MTV. I want my MTV. I wanted my MTV. In the morning, after school, in the evening and all the time. Countless hours of middle school years were spent dancing around my living room, writing myself into the narrative of music videos by my favorite performers. I was flipping comic book pages in Take On Me by A-ha, rebelling against the patriarchy with Cyndi Lauper and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun , and wanting to know How Will I Know with Whitney Houston. My living room would never turn into the soundstage of MTV, my stories would never leave the confines of my home, but my imagination never stopped running wild. Which brings me to burlesque. Burlesque is the art of the tease. Historically, it’s been around since the mid-1800s and was brought to North America from London by Lydia Thompson’s British Blondes. Burlesque, in its truest form is a parody against the government, the monarchy, and upper society. It could be low brow and crude or elegant and upper crust. Today, burlesque expresses the same notions, and is performed by people of all shapes, sizes, ages, genders, cultures, colors, and orientations. Burlesque can be split into categories of Neo-burlesque, Nerdlesque, Boylesque, Queerlesque, Gorelesque, Vaudeville, Drag, and Cirque. Themes include comedy, drama, protest, good vs. evil,

redemption, revenge, and more. Most frequently, there’s skin, but it’s not required. Burlesque lets my imagination run wild. Atlanta has a thriving burlesque community. You can find 2 to 5 shows a week and over 100+ active performers around the city entertaining audiences at places like The Windmill Art Center, Red Light Café, City Winery, Smith’s Olde Bar, and even Dad’s Garage. Burlesque pops up at major events around town like DragonCon, MomoCon, 221BCon, CONjuration, Frolicon and Anime Weekend Atlanta. Stay abreast of events, classes, and community casting calls on Facebook in the Burlesque Atlanta group. In upcoming columns, I’ll take you on a tour Atlanta’s creative arts with the sights and sounds that led me to the burlesque stage. I’ll share my own story and introduce you to others who have found their voice through the alternative arts. Shellie Schmals is the Producer and Managing Director of Roxie Roz, a burlesque collective. She’s an enterprising dynamo who also spends her time as Film Programming Manager of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival; as Secretary on the Board of Director of Women in Film and Television Atlanta, and is a proud member of the Georgia Pinup Posse. You can contact her, and follow her at IG: @vonschmals, Twittter: @shellieschmals, and Facebook: @ shellieschmalsretro

Photo by JAR Photography

Upcoming performances: The Roxie Roz Burlesque Experience Friday, March 13, 2020 at 7:30 PM – 10:30 PM Bridge 17 Screenwriters Studio 252 Walker St SW, Atlanta, GA 30313 The Atlanta Pancakes & Booze Art Show Friday, March 27, 2020 at 8 PM – 2 AM Georgia Freight Depot 65 Martin Luther King Jr Dr, Atlanta, Georgia 30334 Sheila E. and the E-Train Thursday, April 2, 2020 at 6 PM – 9 PM City Winery Atlanta 650 North Avenue NE Ste 201, Atlanta, Georgia 30308

Shellie Schmals

I t’s not like I woke up one morning thinking…wow, burlesque is something I should really get into. My adventures in burlesque started as a journey to the stage. For as long as I could remember, my dream was to become a triple-threat entertainer. A dancer- singer-actress extraordinaire. As an ‘80s kid, I soaked in all the pop culture that was to fuel my passions: Annie , the musical and the film; Fame , the film and the television show; and of course, MTV. The hype around Annie was everywhere, from records lunchboxes, magazines. I owned it all and I fully believed it was attainable for me to be the next Annie

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