Mean Betty on the Performance of Burlesque and 'Britain's Got Talent'

A burlesque performer recently got Simon Cowell's show 'Britain's Got Talent' into some hot water with media watchdogs Ofcom. But should it have? Mean Betty investigates!
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Mean Betty on the Performance of Burlesque and ‘Britain’s Got Talent’

A burlesque performer recently got Simon Cowell’s show ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ into some hot water with media watchdogs Ofcom. But should it have? Mean Betty investigates!

-Mean Betty

Beatrix Von Bourbon

Kittens, are you familiar with the art of burlesque? No doubt the name of Dita Von Teese rings a bell; perhaps the most famous modern burlesque artist, Dita has many admirers, as much for her talent and beauty as for her exquisite sense of fashion. In fact, Dita is probably responsible for bringing burlesque into the mainstream—and therefore into televised talent competitions like Britain’s Got Talent. There has been some question, however, as to whether or not burlesque belongs on televised talent competitions. Is it too sexy for primetime television? Meanie believes that there is no reason to bar burlesque from these shows, and here, kittens, is why.

First, a little history lesson:

A longstanding theatrical tradition, burlesque has been around in one form or another for centuries. What we generally think of when we think of the word “burlesque” stems from Victorian burlesque: A form popular in London during the 19th century, it took well-known operas, plays, or ballets and parodied them in a risqué and tantalizing fashion. American burlesque, which flourished during the first half of the 20th century, took its cues from Victorian burlesque, with many of its performers like Gypsy Rose Lee becoming bonafide stars. Furthermore, it has found a place in academia as well: Any theatre history curriculum worth its salt includes burlesque in its course of study.

These days, burlesque has seen quite a spirited revival, and modern burlesque can either call up its vintage roots or find its inspiration in something more contemporary. Meanie has heard tell of burlesque danced to Rihanna (umbrellas were involved), burlesque inspired by Star Wars, and even Muppet-inspired burlesque. The key to burlesque is not sex, though of course sexiness is a part of it; rather, it’s playfulness. When these two things combine, we have burlesque.

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Now consider the following:

This past season of Simon Cowell’s Britain’s Got Talent (exactly how many talent competitions does that man run, anyway?) featured a young woman by the stage name of Beatrix Von Bourbon (pictured above). A 27-year-old burlesque dancer from London, Beatrix has a background in ballet and tap, and she blew away the judges during her two-minute audition, which aired on March 31 in the 8pm to 9pm time slot. Her semi-finals performance, also two minutes in length, aired on May 9 roughly around 8:30pm, and though she didn’t win, she was again well-received.

British media watchdog Ofcom reported yesterday that once all was said and done, it received 90 complaints about Beatrix’s performances from viewers who believed it to be too risqué for primetime telly. But why? Here, kittens, are the two performances in question (possibly NSFW, kittens, though there is definitely no full nudity).

Beatrix’s audition:

Beatrix’s semi-finals performance and a comparison to a certain pop superstar up next!

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