The Queerlesque Festival was created by Italian neo-burlesque royalty, Sylvie Bovary with a wish to bring Italy a fresh and fun new kind of show. Born as a twice-monthly event at a club in Florence it has grown into a hugely successful festival which tours all over Italy with spectators travelling from far and wide to see the show. Born somewhere between London and Hell, international vaudevillian Lou Safire has been strutting his stuff across the world since 2008. A regular favourite at the queerlesque festival events, who better to tell us the real low down on this trailblazing event…
The concept of the show was born from the term ‘queer’ which traditionally refers to someone eccentric or strange. In recent years the term has been reclaimed by those whose orientation or identity differs from the stereotypical hetrosexual or cisgendar norm. However it is not a term synonymous with the LGBT community, it has nothing to do with how you dress or what gender or sexuality you are, its more about what you stand for. Sylvie Bovary has been a notable member of the queer community in Italy for many years. She started performing burlesque in 2006 and quickly realised that her alternative style of performance was not regular amongst the burlesque scene in Italy which more typically caters to a classic style of performer. No one was catering to the queer side of burlesque so she decided to combine her 2 passions of the queer community and burlesque and the result was The Queerlesque Show. On any given night at any burlesque show in the world you can encounter anything from a showgirl, boylesque artist, drag queen, side show stunts…the list goes on. Burlesque has always been accepting and all encompassing so it makes sense that the union of queer and burlesque would be a perfect marriage!
“My goal with Queerlesque was to create an alternative, multicoloured and funny show with extravagant performers, specifically spotlighting queer artists! We’re not bringing queer culture to the burlesque scene, burlesque was already queer, we’re just highlighting another side of it.” Sylvie Bovary
The Queerlesque festival is based in Florence but lately has also toured around Tuscany and recently
Palermo, Sicily. Queerlesque is the perfect space for all to enjoy and celebrate queer performance art, as well as regularly booking local artists Sylvie flies performers in from all over Europe, all of which have completely different performance styles meaning that each show is diverse and individual. Past performers include, Raven (AUS), Lola Wesh (FR), Rusty Von Chrome (UK) and Aleksei Von Wosylius (FR).
I have been lucky enough to perform for the festival 3 times in 3 different fabulous Italian locations, Florence, Sarzana and Palermo and I have to say it’s been a pleasure to be part of. Not only did I get to see beautiful parts of Italy and Sicily I have met some truly inspirational and fantastic artistes. I recently found out that my grandfather (the Mother Safire was adopted and has researched and found her biological family) is American Italian and the family originates from Palermo, so to have been given the opportunity to go and spends 4 days there was an amazing experience and a good job I like sea food as this is a big part of the Sicilian diet!
In Palermo, the show was part of the Palermo Tattoo Expo, and we performed a different act each night. Performers were Mr Goodman (IT) an exquisite and fascinating bubble performer. Christiana (IT), a beautiful fire performer. Aleksei Von Wosylius, graceful and theatrical Male burlesque Performer the event founder Sylvie Bovary, and myself. The show was received greatly by both tattooers and tattoo enthusiasts. Hosted by Mauriziano, who is very funny when speaking in English (I can only assume is even more hilarious when speaking in Italian, given the audiences reaction) keeps the show flowing and the audience enticed between acts.
As of November 2016, the main Florence show is moving to a theatre in the centre of the city and it will take on more of a ‘festival’ vibe. But don’t fear there is going to be small, ongoing tours around all of Italy!