The Savannah Sweet Tease Burlesque Revue has been around for a long time, continually providing an inclusive platform for burlesque in the city and taking great care to give back to the community whenever possible. That philanthropy will be on full display on Fri., Nov. 22 when Sweet Tease will host its first annual Stripsgiving, an all-people of color revue emceed by Chi Chi Bonet Sherrington.
Attendees are asked to bring a non-perishable food or personal item, which will be donated to those in need this holiday season. The show will take place at Club One and will feature a lineup of local performers including Marquee Von Fister, Coco Rose’, and Lavender Haze (among many others).
We chatted with performer and producer Rita D’LaVane ahead of Stripsgiving to learn more about the event.
Is this the first Stripsgiving event you’ve done?
Yes, this is the first one we’ve produced. It’s the second all-POC burlesque revue that we’ve ever produced.
What was the impetus for doing an event like this?
I think the idea just sort of came out of a need to want to have an event that could raise awareness for people who struggle within our community. So often, I sit and realize how much of a draw burlesque can be and how successful it’s become. There’s always a part of me that says, “We’ve got to use these powers for good.”
Within the idea of promoting ourselves, what are we putting back into the community for all that we’re given as far as making money and surviving as performers? I think it’s important to use any way that you can gather means for people within gathering attention for yourself.
- Rita D'LaVane
These events may bring people out who might not have ever been to a burlesque show. Is that something you think about when you’re putting these kinds of events together?
100 percent! There’s a lot of us at this point, and a lot of people who aren’t necessarily performers get a preconceived notion about what they think burlesque is. So being able to target certain people and show them what it is is always very important. In showing them, you get the opportunity to show them within your own vision of what you think it should be.
The idea of doing an all-POC revue comes out of the need to provide visibility for people of color. Within the industry worldwide, there is such a small percentage of us.
To give you a small idea of what that’s like—there are a lot of discussion groups among performers online, and among one particular group that includes performers of all backgrounds there are 5,500 members. Within a group that is for people of color, there are less than 500 in that group.
I’d been thinking about doing something in November for a while, because there’s not a whole lot to do that’s around Thanksgiving. I think the reason why is because Savannah is a very transient city, and there aren’t a lot of people who are from here or have family here. But there are a lot of people who live here, and it’s becoming more of a trend for people to want to stay closer to home rather than travel.
I also thought we can tie in the feeling that as people of color, we consider each other family in a very deep and spiritual way. So we’re trying to give, even when we might not have much; which is something we’ve all grown up on as a foundation.
You mention preconceived notions—what do you think the biggest misconception is about burlesque?
Well, especially because we’re also an agency that does client work, a lot of people see burlesque as something that is predominately white, thin women. And often times when client requests come through, people will ask for a certain type of person that they want to hire. I feel like that’s the opposite of what the industry actually is.
We strive to be inclusive, and especially just because that’s not how the world actually is. Representation is important. Visibility is important.