Cosplay Burlesque dressed up to bare all again on Friday night, April 28, at Zenkaikon 2017. Last year, CommonGeek had the chance to sit down with them and learned of their roots and some insider info on some of the kinks that wows the different cities.
Holly Ween and the rest of the troupe returned to Lancaster for the fifth year in a row with performances that left the auditorium resounding with euphoric cheer.
As the show began, the crowd was greeted once again by nerd comedian Karl “Uncle Yo” Custer and his usual stand-up humor. Then from out of seemingly nowhere he was joined by the infamous “Boner Guy”, a man who earned the title originally as an audience member who made a bad pun about Brook from One Piece.
Together the two alternated in breaking the crowd into uproarious laughter. “He’s very collected, very methodical… whereas I kind of bounce around a lot, I’m all over the place… and I felt like our dynamics, in that way, meshed together perfectly,” said Boner Guy on their joint hosting.
“Holly Ween and the rest of the troupe returned to Lancaster for the fifth year in a row…”
Among the performances that evening were Cherry Valentine and Esmerelda May’s sultry duo of Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus respectively from Sailor Moon, Mr. E’s tribute to the symmetry-obsessed Meister Death the Kid from Soul Eater, and Holly Ween’s mesmerizing costume illusions as the girl who wanted to be a prince Utena Tenjou from Revolutionary Girl Utena.
Esmerelda referenced doing the theme song for anime characters. “We’ve encouraged the troupe to [not] do the theme song unless it really fits it. There was nothing else that Utena would work better for than the theme song, but you don’t wanna do the obvious choice,” she said. “I think a lot of us do a really good job finding something that defines the character”.
Then Oliver Swisskey took the stage as everyone’s most loved and hated rival Blue from Pokemon set to the song “All I Do Is Win” by DJ Khaled. He strut about the stage in an arrogant manner befitting the cocky Pokemon Trainer, ending in his underwear with two middle fingers blazing.
Cosplay Burlesque spends a good amount of time coming up with the act itself as Oliver noted, “For me, normally the song hits me first and then I’m like ‘this would be really good for this character’ and then everything kind of blossoms from that”, whereas Triple Jay takes a more comedic approach to his performance. “I do silly things so generally the ideas come at the same time because the song is usually part of the joke”.
“There are some characters where the act just kind of writes itself.” – Mr. E
Joining them this year was newcomer to the Zenkaikon stage Hazel Tart, a talented drag queen that perfectly personifies Tina Belcher from Bob’s Burgers with the sexy ghost in a box Jeff. She wooed the crowd with her charm and the subtle awkwardness of her character. Esmerelda then rocked the house as Steven Universe’s feisty, knuckle-punching Amethyst. Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” blasted an ode of rebellion and badassery as Esmerelda danced across the stage.
As a surprise, Uncle Yo returned to the stage, but not just as a host. Dressed in a trench coat, he took the role of Supernatural’s Castiel as Oliver strutted out in a fine suit as the Lord of Hell, Crowley. Oliver worked his demonic magic and seduced the angelic Uncle Yo as the crowd cheered and the two finished with a kiss that would make even the Winchester brothers blush.
In good patriotic spirit, Mr. E wore the red, white, and blue as Marvel’s Captain America as the theme song from Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Team America and stripped down to virtually nothing hid behind the shield of justice, certainly giving the term “vibranium” a whole new meaning.
“Sometimes it’s ‘I want to do an act for this character’ and so I try to find a song that fits them in some way,” Mr. E said. “A lot of the time when it comes to the anime characters I can just go to YouTube and type up ‘character AMV’ and see what songs come up and which ones fit, and that’s how Death the Kid came to be”. His Death the Kid performance was to “My Demons” by Starset.
“There are some characters where the act just kind of writes itself,” he continued, “specifically with my Jojo acts that I do. The one Yoshikage Kira act… his Stand is ‘Killer Queen’ so I had to start it off with ‘Killer Queen’ and his attack is ‘Bites the Dust’ so I finish it up with “Another One Bites the Dust”. Both are songs by the world-renowned rock band Queen.
“For me, normally the song hits me first… and then everything kind of blossoms from that.” – Oliver Swisskey
Overall, though, nothing could be more enticing, or horrifying, than Holly Ween’s lustrous Xenomorph Queen from the Alien franchise. There was not a single person in the crowd that wasn’t feeling the good way of uncomfortable, certainly prompting a few sexy night terrors and waking up confusingly aroused. This may have been the most difficult, not only of acts to perform as Holly was hunched over the entire time, but also to make and even put on.
As the rest of the troupe assured, it was definitely a daunting, but rewarding task. Oliver commented on it, “We had all seen progress photos of it, but it didn’t prepare us for when she came out”. On Saturday, however, Holly had to rush to New York City to perform at the 2017 Nerdlesque Festival where she donned the costume of Ellen Ripley’s bane.
“Joining them this year was… Hazel Tart, a talented drag queen that perfectly personifies Tina Belcher from Bob’s Burgers”
Saturday evening the troupe held a “How to Burlesque” panel, where they talked about different tips and tricks on how to put on a sexy show, such as taking stockings off in a provocative way or hiding behind a fan to take clothes off. Not only did they demonstrate those tricks, but they got the audience involved as well.
Esmerelda and Cherry demonstrated the sexy ways to remove gloves and then grabbed volunteers to show off some of their own moves. Later, Oliver eagerly jumped down from the stage and did a performance with a cape at the suggestion of an audience member, whipping it around himself like it was caught in the wind and onto the floor with a posing finish.
Cosplay Burlesque always give their all with their costumes and dance moves, even with the occasional mishap, but they always garner applause every time. Given the upcoming, momentous occasion of their tenth anniversary, Final Fantasy-themed show at their home-con, AnimeNEXT June 9-11 in Atlantic City, they will do certainly just that. Cosplay Burlesque can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.