NIGHTLIFE: Place your best and lose your shirts

In an utterly charming, sultry voice, Mademoiselle Oui Oui Encore explains that burlesque “is not about sex; it is about seduction, and most of all, confidence in yourself.”  Blue Light Burlesque is the only troupe of its kind in Quebec, and this Thursday night over a dozen performers will be stripping down and heating up La Tulipe in a show entitled “Place Your Bets! Hot Las Vegas Nights.”

Combining equal parts comic timing and seduction, the women of Blue Light Burlesque are extremely talented at joking in pantomime while removing their panties. Twelve to 16 troupe members, consisting of both men and women, perform 20 original skits in two acts.

Since its conception three years ago, the troupe has staged eight shows, all theme-oriented and all major successes. Incorporating cabaret as well as burlesque, the performances are held in intimate locations, where guests can sip cocktails while enjoying the spectacle.

Mademoiselle and her boyfriend and co-founder, Blue Eyes, are involved in every aspect of the show. They conceive, produce, act in and direct the show, as well as manage their Web site, www.bluelightburlesque.com and make intricate, erotic costumes.

In preparation for the company’s first show opening, Mlle. Oui Oui Encore was so preoccupied with organization that it wasn’t until she was about to go on stage that she realized she had never stripped before! Completely improvising, she strut her stuff, ruffled her fan and had the time of her life. Now a veritable expert in the erotic art of teasing, Mademoiselle teaches six-week striptease courses and sells pasties and corsets at the show and on the Web site.

It was not always so clear that Blue Light Burlesque would have a successful future. Mademoiselle had moderate expectations about the troupe’s first performance. “I was expecting 25 people at the most; I’m always the most insecure about the show. We had to book a Monday night because that was the only night we could afford. But we sold out! It was like a riot, everyone was trying to get in.”

Not only did the crowd show up, they dressed up. Women wore flappers, corsets and feathers in their hair. Men donned tuxedos and fedoras. For Mademoiselle, “It was like a dream. People respected the show and became a part of it.”

Not everyone embraces the retro-chic style and Mademoiselle will certainly not turn someone away for wearing jeans. However, she does point out that burlesque is the perfect occasion for “those sexy dresses that are just a bit too sexy.”

Despite the swank appearances, Mademoiselle cheekily admits that this is not an intellectual show. Her goal is to help people forget about their worries for two hours and to leave the theater happy. Troupe members do not take themselves seriously, “We are not Cirque du Soleil.” But they are the pioneers of Quebec burlesque and the retro-culture embedded in the show is prevalent in Mademoiselle’s and Blue Eyes’ lifestyle. “It’s not just the fifties; I like the twenties and thirties and forties too. I love the aesthetics of that time. It’s the clothes, the music, the pin-ups. My boyfriend and I love to dance; we’ve been teaching swing for years. The first time I saw burlesque it was so much fun; I knew we had to start it in Quebec.”

The art of burlesque now holds a special place in Mademoiselle’s heart. “It’s really special, it’s not like the strip clubs on Ste-Catherine’s-it’s different. You can have the shape that you have; it is even suggested that you don’t have to be perfect. Your personality shows through, and if you do a good job the people love you.” And there is no reason not to love Mlle. Oui Oui Encore and her posse of provocative players.

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