March Sex Salon: Thinking With and Across Burlesque


5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Our March Sex Salon panel centers the discourses and performance practices of Burlesque, and the ways in which embodied aesthetics re-orient our understandings of feminist performance, embodiment, and subjectivity.


Hannah Dickson (she/they, OCAD University)

“Contemporary Burlesque: Performing for Yourself”

This project explores how women, femmes, and queer contemporary burlesque performers are using the concept of the feminist gaze to reject and rework the male gaze and the act of seeing/being seen. These performers refuse the status of passive object and use a performance of their own sexuality to create an act of defiance that situates them as an active subject in their identity, agency, and sexuality. By taking hold of their sexuality and bodily autonomy and creating a performance that is done for the enjoyment and uplifting of the self, what could be read by some as self-objectification becomes a form of self-pleasure and self-fulfillment. This project works through my definition of the feminist gaze through the examination of two case studies: Lou Lou la Duchesse de Rière and Miss Paige and examines the ways in which they refuse and disentangle the heterosexual, colonial, male gaze and find pleasure in performing their sexuality and femininity for themselves.

Hannah Dickson is a critical writer, contemporary art historian, curator, and graduate student at OCAD University working on a major research project exploring contemporary Burlesque and the feminist gaze. Their research interests also include queer time and world-building as well as DIY culture and socially engaged art. They believe that art is crucial to expanding minds and pushing boundaries and can be used as a tool to foster critical discussions and discourses, both within and outside of the arts.

Julia Matias (she/her, University of Toronto)

“Touching the Legends: Tribute Burlesque Acts as Memorial Performance”

The “Tribute” act is a performance wherein contemporary neo-burlesque performers create a burlesque act inspired by one of the Burlesque Legends– or any burlesque performer who was a feature or headliner before the year 1975. I use the acts presented in “Love Letters to the Legends”, a virtual showcase I co-produced as a part of the Virtual Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekender in 2021, to explore how tribute acts work to reach across the bounds of time to foster and enrich community investment in intergenerational kinship, to cement the legacies of our elders, and create bonds predicated on care– tenets that I argue have always been a part of the neo-burlesque movement as a performance form rooted in feminist citational practices.

Julia is a PhD candidate working on a collaborative degree with the Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies, and the Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on feminist knowledge production in neo-burlesque. She is also an award-winning performer operating under the stage name “Força” and a co-producer of the “Creme de La Femme” feminist cabaret series in Toronto. She made her debut at the coveted Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekender in 2019 and co-produced the Virtual Burlesque Hall of Fame tribute act showcase “Love Letters to Legends” in 2021. Julia is an interim board member in relaunching the Toronto Burlesque Festival.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *