The Roux Burlesque empowers the art of black women

Julia Engel, Staff Reporter

An excited and rowdy crowd came out to see “The Roux: A Spicy Black Burlesque Show” this past Friday at Café Istanbul in the Marigny. The show aimed to acclaim black women in an entertaining and inviting environment, and was produced by Blu Reine, a burlesque artist native to New Orleans.

This year’s showing of The Roux featured a highly decorated cast from all over the country who performed both traditional burlesque acts and some highly original takes on the art. Cherry Galette opened the show with a 1920’s inspired routine, setting an enticing mood for the rest of the show to follow. Yet the audience certainly wasn’t prepared for what happened next. After a highly enthusiastic introduction, burlesque performer Po’ Chop took the stage barefoot, dressed in sunglasses, a baggy t-shirt and red gym shorts, with large sideburns garishly drawn on the sides of her face. Taking a seat in a folding chair, the booming voice of Samuel L Jackson screaming, “Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness” resonated through the small theater. As the audio of Jackson’s rendition of Ezekiel 25:17 continued, it became clear that Po’ Chop was taking “Pulp Fiction” to the realm of stripping. As the gunshots from the scene sounded over the audience, Po’ Chop whipped out a water gun, spraying spectators.

From there, the performances only got more outrageous. Chatty the Mime gave an intriguing combination of mime and burlesque. May Hemmer also gave a memorable performance inspired by Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog.” Dressed in a green satin ball gown and opulent crown, Hemmer took apart her costume piece-by piece till she was left dancing in nothing but a corset and thong, her crown still defiantly placed atop her head.

Yet the highlight of The Roux was the show given by Jeez Loueez, who is “Consistently voted amongst the top 20 burlesque performers in the world” says Blu Reine.  Her performance was, in fact, riveting. She was able to infuse twerking, popular hip-hop dance “the Nae Nae” and an overall essence of sass into her performance—the more clothes that came off, the crazier her body-rolling and dancing became.

Before seeing the show, many wouldn’t have ever thought of burlesque of an art form. But after witnessing the amount of creativity, ambition and individuality that went into each performer’s act, it has become clear that burlesque is a highly underrated artistic forum. These women were celebrating both their bodies as well as the beauty of black woman in general. The show was magnifying, empowering and definitely one that spectators won’t soon forget.