The first day of Zenkaikon X came to a close with Cosplay Burlesque, a bawdy striptease dedicated to anime, video game, and movie fandoms. Con-goers received their 18+ wristbands and created a line covering the first floor of the Lancaster County Convention Center.
The Zekaikon performance provided something for everyone; stripteases ranged from the M-rated Bloodbore to the G-rated Disney hit Finding Nemo. Mr. E’s Kylo Ren teases were an audience favorite, garnering applause for his solo show, male/male, and male/female performances with troupe members Oliver Swisskey and Cherry Valentine, respectively. Mr. E also has fun with his fans on the convention floor. “There’s a lot of people that [say] ‘Oh my god! Kylo Ren!’” Mr. E went into character, saying “I just walk up to them like, ‘Do you know me?’”
Geek comedian Karl “Uncle Yo” Custer handled emcee duties, cosplaying his first time and doing his own striptease for the second time at Zenkaikon X. Uncle Yo took the stage as Shōyō Hinata from the anime and manga series Haikyū!!, performing skits and providing comedy while the burlesque troupe changed costumes. Uncle Yo’s comedy brought an authentic burlesque feel to this year’s performance, accompanying the striptease acts with slapstick skits.
Cosplay Burlesque, based in New Jersey, has been performing at conventions for seven years. Founded by Holly Ween, the troupe employs both male and female performers, bringing adult entertainment to increasingly family-oriented cons. “…many cons have reoriented their programming to attract younger attendees, which is all well and good,” said Ween on Cosplay Burlesque’s online biography. Ween continued, “but they haven’t done much for the older crowd. I was hoping to add something new and different to the lineup.”
Ween offered advice for cosplayers interested in entering the world of convention burlesque. “I always recommend that they should check out their local scene,” she said, citing regional preferences in burlesque. “New York will allow a lot more neo [modern-style] stuff,” she continued. “We found that Philly is very drag-oriented and then… New Jersey and PA [are] very, very classic.” Ween recommends finding a kittening (picking up clothes onstage) gig or sending a demo video to a burlesque group to get involved. “When I’m looking for performers, I pull out all of the demo videos and I’m like ‘Ok. I need two more guys for my show,’ and then I go through all of my guy videos.”
Cosplay Burlesque brings performances, panels, and more to conventions on the east coast. You can catch their next performance at AnimeNEXT, June 10-12 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. “The theme this year that we’re going to run with is Avengers/Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Ween stated. More information can be found on Cosplay Burlesque’s official website, located here.
Editor’s note: quote amended to clarify meaning of neo.