Anatomy of a Burlesque Costume: Heigh Ho!

Dwarf Burlesque

As I’ve discussed in previous posts, inspiration for a burlesque act can come from all types of places. Sometimes you can be forced into a bit of a box though. For instance, say you have a show theme you have to work within. For the Danger Damsels Burlesque Presents Disney After Dark show last fall, we were challenged to come up with and develop Disney themed acts. One of my acts I came up with was a combination spinning and stripping act where I am one of Snow White’s seven dwarfs. In the act, I spin a pickaxe and strip. A simple enough concept. So where did the costume come from?

Dwarf BurlesqueThis costume was very simple to put together, and I honestly did not put a lot of work into it. Were I to perform the act again, there are some variations that I would make now, both to the costume and the music for this act. This is yet another example of an act that can be fun, and put together, without a lot of expense as far as costume goes. On the outside, I wore a few items I already had in my closet: a green turtleneck and a wide brown harness-like belt. I completed the outer look with a pair of metallic leggings, lace-up heeled boots, and a dwarf-like green hat, all of which I purchased from Amazon (see below).

Underneath these items were a zip-up corset I had acquired on sale months previously, a bra that I decorated very sparsely with ribbon and hot glue, and a pair of vinyl pasties I made in half an hour.

Dwarf BurlesqueThe bigger deal in this instance is actually the prop, that pickaxe. As confident as I am in my own spinning abilities, a real pickaxe is not only heavy, but dangerous to spin. The show was at Billy’s Lounge in Eastown, which has a very small stage and a low ceiling, making tosses practically impossible, and putting a lot of people and expensive equipment in harm’s way if I were to drop this prop. As a substitute, I ordered an engineered foam pickaxe head from a Halloween supplier, and simply purchased a standard pickaxe handle from my local home improvement store. This turned out to be a good option. The prop looked very real (I looked much stronger than I actually am!), and mitigated the danger.

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