If you like pretty ladies, good music, impossible moves and the occasional firey baton, assignment #95 in the 365 Things to Do in Memphis will be easy for you – you're going to a vintage-style burlesque show.
Memphis is home to three burlesque troupes, which makes catching a performance easy. Between the of the Memphis Belles, the Tennessee Tease and Sock It to Me Burlesque (and the occasional visiting troupe like Southern Lush and Lace or Pretty Things Peep Show), it's possible to see shows almost monthly.
Sock It to Me's Madonna Putana describes burlesque as being "like a theatrical performance or going to see a band. It's not sleazy. It's just good, positive fun."
The Belles and the Tennessee Tease have both been around for a few years, and Sock It to Me Burlesque had their first-ever show at the Brass Door tavern last weekend.
Like most burlesque shows, Sock It to Me's show included singing, dancing and classic burlesque acts that were more subtle and sexy than sleazy. A dancer named Lady Doo Moi did a fan dance to the Velvet Underground's "Venus in Furs", there were red fringey underthings and a risky looking (only because of the upholstery) fire dance by Aenya Little Fyre.
The variety is one of my favorite things about burlesque shows. The performers create their own acts (and often make their own costumes). "You get to see all types of beauty represented," Madonna Putanna told me. "I had the pleasure once of an audience member thanking me after a performance because we made her feel more confident and positive about her body, simply because we were, with all of our "flaws", getting up there and owning our bodies, loving what we are doing, being sexy and rocking it. And I think that is one of the great things about seeing burlesque."