Glitter, gumption, gaiety: All of that and more will be on display at the second annual Fierce! International Queer Burlesque Festival, coming to Madison for a four day run over July 24–27. The extravaganza will feature queer-identified performance artists from across the country and around the globe, strutting their finest stuff for locals to lap up.
Thursday’s show storms into Plan B with hosts Cass Marie and Sexual Chocolate. Friday sees the action move to the Majestic with host Kaiser Colonic. Saturday sashays its way into FIVE Nightclub with host Tigger. And Sunday sees the culmination of this kaleidoscopic cabaret at the Shamrock Bar & Grille with hosts the Mad City Sisters.
Co-producers Kitty La Rue and Moxie Rhodes, both of Peach Pies Caburlesque, talk about their roles in bringing the fest to town and what attendees can expect:
Kitty La Rue: Last year’s fest was in Columbus and around that time (fest founder) Viva Valezz! came to us asking our thoughts for Madison being the next host city. Viva was familiar with Madison and some of our venues from previous Fierce! tours, when the festival itself was just a twinkle of an idea. Through these previous tours we also became familiar and then friendly with several other key queer/ally performers from across the country.
The festival is a four day party extravaganza. We have four completely different shows each day at four different venues. You’ll see local performers and community members, as well as people from all over the country. We really want this to be a Madison community event, not just a sparkly show. We want this festival to be all-inclusive—from the variety of performances to the make-up of the audience. This is a festival celebrating everyone! The performers are an amazingly talented group as well as incredible people, so we really are looking forward to bringing them to Madison. We are very lucky to have this caliber of talent here for four days!
Moxie rhodes: Queer performance art such as burlesque has always been a large part of the queer community. Plus the amount of glitter always has been a bit of an icon. We love it flashy and fabulous, and we expect the best dance, drag, and face from this group. Queer burlesque is about acceptance and diversity. We do things a bit differently than the average as we think outside of the box. Prepare to be amazed! Our headliners are international sensations that have all graced the stages of the Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, Nevada and some even winning titles!
Kitty: Visibility of queer art is important if for no other reason than it is incredibly diverse. It’s also a voice that until recently hasn’t been in the public eye much. The experiences that these artists have inform the artwork, creating one-of-a-kind works that are unique yet often times comment on a shared overall experience. Sometimes, though, we just want to show off pride in accepting who we are, celebrate ourselves and our community, or just be sparkly and silly.
Queer performance art is in-your-face, and you get direct feedback and reactions from an audience. Burlesque already kind of pushes the envelope a lot of times and is a safe space to explore ideas, try out new themes, raise awareness of an issue, etc. It can be over the top and ridiculous. And it can be funny. These are all things that help to maybe pave the way for an audience to accept ideas and concepts that they might not otherwise be exposed to.
My hopes are that Fierce! continues to grow each year. I hope the fact that the city of the fest is different each year helps to incorporate many more communities over the next years. It’s important that the queer/ally community is visible, respected, and accepted in relation to performance events. I’d love to see more community inclusion where the fest and host city really come together to make it a celebration of everyone in town—acceptance of who we all are, regardless of how we look, who we love, how we identify. Just one big party celebrating life.