NEPA Scene Staff

PA Burlesque Festival continues growth in fifth year

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From a press release:

August 8-10, 2014 marks the fifth annual PA Burlesque Festival. Held in the historic Mauch Chunk Opera House (14 W. Broadway, Jim Thorpe), the PABF presents world-class burlesque artists from across the U.S., Canada, U.K., and Australia. Created by Jim Thorpe native Brooke Burke as a small, one-show fundraising event in March of 2010 with a cast of strip tease and vaudeville performers booked sight unseen, it has become one of the most talked about annual events in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Executive producer, hostess, and creator Brooke Burke (a.k.a. Madame Corsetiere, pictured above) laid the groundwork for what was the Jim Thorpe Burlesque Festival in 2009 shortly after returning home from a burlesque event in New England. With Jim Thorpe’s Victorian downtown as her backdrop, Ms. Burke enlisted a handful of volunteers to help organize her event, which donated half its proceeds to the renovation of the Opera House. With community support and novelty on her side, the show sold out, as did the burlesque-related classes offered that weekend.

The event has been growing steadily ever since and spent two years in Philadelphia, where it evolved into the PA Burlesque Festival. The Jim Thorpe and PA events have merged into one, and downtown Jim Thorpe reaps the benefits of additional visitors to Burke’s well-attended shows, including the sold-out annual Halloween show “BOOLESQUE.” Ms. Burke continues to donate a substantial portion of the proceeds of the PABF to the preservation of the Mauch Chunk Opera House.

August’s event includes two carefully curated shows, with performers who must have passed a rigorous application process to appear on Ms. Burke’s stage. The flagship show on Saturday, “The Big Reveal,” is the only competitive show in the U.S. to give away cash to its winner and runners-up. The winner receives the Crystal Corset Award and $1,000; it is the heaviest prize purse of any burlesque showcase worldwide and draws award-winning talent from across the globe.

This year’s event is headlined by Medianoche, the Crystal Corset Award winner for 2013, with a special appearance by living Burlesque legend Penny Starr, who continues to thrill audiences at the age of 81.

“I never dreamed that this tiny festival would attract such a loyal audience and such spectacular talent,” says Brooke. “There’s something magic about Jim Thorpe that seems to make all things possible.”

The weekend is rounded out with burlesque workshops and classes, as well as the Burlesque Bazaar, a salon of handpicked vendors, at the Mauch Chunk Museum and Ballroom (41 W. Broadway, Jim Thorpe).

Tickets and more info can be found at The PA Burlesque Festival is also on Facebook and Twitter.