Shake and bake

Lady Luck Burlesque travels to Ogunquit for a summer show

This summer has been relatively mild so far, but Lady Luck Burlesque is getting a little hot under the collar. They Portsmouth-based burlesque troupe will bring fishnets, feathers, and a host of outrageous routines to the Leavitt Theatre in Ogunquit, Maine on Saturday, July 18 for their last full performance of the year.

“I think that Ogunquit and burlesque really go well together,” says Lady Luck’s executive director, Kama English, otherwise known as
Miss Kama-Kazi.

The show, titled “A Summer Burly-Q Review,” features Lady Luck members in all their finery, along with Bunny Wonderland (the drag persona of the Seacoast’s own Knate Higgins) acting as emcee. The variety show will showcase a spectrum of burlesque acts, including a Broadway number and a dancer in a 1960s airline stewardess costume hula-hooping. About half the acts in the show involve women in pasties.

Lady Luck Burlesque formed in 2010 and the troupe’s dancers are a familiar sight on Seacoast stages. They performed a 1960s-themed show at The Music Hall last summer and are frequent guests at the Seacoast Repertory Theatre’s Red Light Series shows. They also performed in the VIP tent at the Taste of the Seacoast in June 2014.

Burlesque flourished in America in the late 19th and early 20th century, and as it evolved, striptease acts became more prominent in the cabaret-like performances. The art form experienced a revival in the 1990s thanks to performers like Dita Von Teese, and modern burlesque troupes pay homage to the glamour of bygone eras while adding their own twist.

“Every troupe has its own spin, its own take on what burlesque is,” English says, which is why she finds it so inspiring to watch or perform with other burlesque troupes. “We pride ourselves on extremely well-rehearsed acts. Whatever the public sees is on point.”

While some troupes focus on retro routines, Lady Luck also does some contemporary dance and Broadway acts. And, like many modern burlesque troupes, Lady Luck’s performers all go by sassy stage names — Bellatrix Moon, Violet Royale, and Miss Daisy Doom are just a few examples.

“Burlesque is more about the tease and the appearance of potential nudity than in-
your-face sex.” — Kama English
of Lady Luck Burlesque

As in traditional burlesque, Lady Luck’s shows feature dancers in elaborate and suggestive costumes, bawdy humor, and striptease acts. It’s a show for adults, but it does not involve full nudity, English says.

“Burlesque is more about the tease and the appearance of potential nudity than in-your-face sex,” says English. “It’s all about suggestion.” She said a burlesque act could consist of nothing but taking off gloves, if it is done the right way.

The atmosphere at Lady Luck’s shows is lively, and cheering, hooting, and hollering are all encouraged. “There’s nothing worse than being on stage and feeling like the audience isn’t connecting with you,” says English.

That doesn’t seem to be a problem for Lady Luck. The troupe’s audiences are made up mostly of women, English says, and some new dancers are recruited through the group’s annual “So You Think You’re a Lady?” amateur burlesque contest.

“The talent that comes through the door has been amazing,”
she says.

Why are women so interested in watching and performing burlesque? The performers’ obvious confidence is very appealing, she says. After all, strutting your stuff on stage takes a lot of courage, and it’s inspiring to see other women of all sizes and shapes own their sexuality. A burlesque performance should leave audiences and performers feeling empowered and uplifted, according to English, not ashamed. “You’re not going to be blushing when you leave,” she says.

Lady Luck Burlesque performs Saturday, July 18 at the Leavitt Theatre, 259 Main St. (Route 1), Ogunquit, Maine. Tickets are $20. Call 207-646-3123 or visit