A: Va Va Boombah!
Va Va Boombah is Melbourne’s (and, as far as we know, Australia’s) first burlesque night featuring fat performers. Given that I am both a fat dancer and a massive perve, unsurprisingly I think this troupe is AWESOME. (Just quietly, I very much want to perform with them one day.)
VVB has their next show coming up in Melbourne in just under a week’s time (details can be found at the bottom of this post), so I had a wee interview with co-producer Jackie aka Chubby Vagine to find out what VVB is all about.
Why did you establish Va Va Boombah?
Va Va Boombah actually started on twitter, when one of my co-producers, Aimee Nichols (@wordsandsequins) tweeted “Why is there no fat burlesque in Melbourne? I can’t be the only one who wants to see fatties shake it”. Our other producer, Lisa-Skye (@thelisaskye) immediately thought of me, and Va Va Boombah was born.
Be we didn’t (just) start Va Va Boombah so we could perve on hot fatties. There are a lot of messages telling fat people that we don’t deserve to exist, let along to be on stage in front of an audience, so we really wanted to create a space where we could strut our stuff, and assert our right not only to be, but to be seen.
What drew you to burlesque over other forms of performance?
I’ve been interested in fat burlesque ever since I heard about Big Burlesque: The Original Fat Bottom Revue in the US. Burlesque has been a part of fat activism in the States for well over a decade now, but to the best of my knowledge, there hasn’t been a troupe in Australia before us.
Burlesque shows in the mid-19th and early 20th century actually used to be variety shows with all sorts of different acts, and that’s what our show is. We have singers and acrobats as well as fat ladies getting nekkid.
I think the fat ladies getting nekkid aspect is actually really important. Dominant culture tends to desexualise fat bodies – it tells us we’re ugly and undesirable. So when we get on stage and perform in ways that are overtly sexual, we’re claiming that for ourselves, and for anyone in the audience who wants it. And importantly, we’re claiming it in a way that’s about our agency and creativity as performers and as people.
Do you see Va Va Boombah as a form of activism?
Absolutely! Heather MacAllister (aka Reva Lucian), who founded Big Burlesque, said “Any time there is a fat person on stage as anything besides the butt of a joke, it’s political. Add physical movement, then dance, then sexuality and you have a revolutionary act.”
Va Va Boombah is very much an activist project in that we’re trying to change perceptions, create new opportunities, and build community. And so far, we seem to be doing pretty well!
What feedback has Va Va Boombah received so far?
We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response so far. Our first show actually sold out – the venue had to put out extra seats on the night to accommodate the door sales!
There hasn’t really been a show like this in Melbourne before, and the audience was really enthusiastic. There were a lot of fatties there, and for some people it was the first time they’d seen people who looked like them on stage, which I think can be a very powerful experience. A lot of our new performers saw the first show and wanted to be part of it!
We also had people say that they hadn’t expected fat performers to be so talented, so that was pretty satisfying. As much as Va Va Boombah is about creating opportunities for fat performers, we’re also committed to putting on a really top show.
What kind of performances can people expect from your January show?
The upcoming show is circus themed, and very much a variety-style show. There’s singing, dancing, acrobatics, ukulele, and even opera, as well as the more classic burlesque acts.
After the show, there will be a body-positive dance party with Steampunk DJ Omega playing until the early hours. We hope everyone sticks around for a dance with us!
Va Va Boombah
Friday 18 January 2013 (opening 7.30pm)
Thornbury Theatre – Ballroom, 859 High St Thornbury
TICKETS AVAILABLE ONLINE HERE