Show Review

Le Femme Mystique Nerdlesque @ Beachland Ballroom 3/18/16

​                              Noella Deville (Pictures Courtesy of Amber Patrick)
Lisa Sanchez​

Le Femme Mystique burlesque troupe is one of the main reasons Cleveland has such a vibrant and unique burlesque scene. The troupe celebrated their 12th anniversary on March 18 with a rousing “Nerdlesque” performance of, as the name implies, sexy and funny strip teases based around nerd culture.
According to proprietor, manager, and performer Bella Sin the idea for the Nerdlesque show came about because the troupe wanted to do something off the wall and interesting. Le Femme Mystique hosted a Star Wars themed show in December 2015 to coincide with the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and ran with the idea for the March Nerdlesque show from there.
The show was hosted by the hilarious Abby Downton, who used her natural British accent to her full advantage, dressed as a bustier-wearing Professor McGonogall (Harry Potter). From there, the show dove head-long into a mix of zany characters and seductive women. The first performer, Toronto’s Red Herring, stepped onto the Beachland Ballroom stage wearing a giant foam Beaker (The Muppets) head complete with lab coat and Dr. Bunsen Honeydew playing over the speakers. This performance set the tone for the evening as the show was filled with unexpected reveals and sensational performances.
One of the aspects that stuck with me most about the show was the costumes. When I saw performers, such as Noella Deville, reveal a full Boba Fett corset complete with helmet, I was aghast. I marveled at the attention to detail on Lilith Avalon’s sexy interpretation of Smaug, the dragon from The Hobbit, and I may have squealed with joy at Marley Teenie’s Deadpool jumpsuit turned lingerie.
Sin explained to me that she holds the troupe to a very high standard and that all of those intriguing costumes I saw were handmade. Sin acknowledged the attention to detail and showmanship by saying, “We don’t wear off the rack stuff. There’s nothing that goes on stage that’s not put there for a reason.”
Aside from the troupe’s costumes, they also had an excellent medley of performers. Visiting performers Red Herring and Miranda Tempest left an indelible mark on the audience. Tempest dazzled with her suspended acrobatics as both Leeloo (The Fifth Element) and Kilo Ren (Star Wars: The Force Awakens). While Herring went from one extreme with her comical Beaker performance to a sultry, slow remix of “Be Our Guest” (Beauty and the Beast) complete with the performer dripping wax on herself.
The nerd references were abundant and diverse throughout the show. There was a little bit of everything for the geek elite to the casual closet dork including a Mystery Science Theater 3000 performance by Noella Deville, Bella Sin’s Wario character (complete with Mario Kart styled race car) dancing to “Low Rider” by War, a full array of Leia costumes from Marley Teenie, and former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Akashia’s stomping the stage as Storm from X-Men, are just a few of the dozen dazzling performances the troupe displayed.
However, professional burlesque performers need their rest too. At intermission, a cosplay contest was held along with one of my favorite non-burlesque moments of the night, a male dance off. Five participants were brought on stage and encouraged to shake what they had to compete for audience applause. It was the hardest I have laughed in a very long time. All of the men were great sports, but only one could walk away with the dance-off prize: admission to the troupe’s show next month.
Aside from all the glamour, talent, and tons of rhinestones that graced the Beachland Ballroom stage, another aspect of the show really hit me in a profound way. All of the burlesque dancers were different body types and, both as a woman and a person who appreciates good art, I found that refreshing. Sin explained about the troupe’s body inclusive and body positive attitude, “We fight a lot with the fact that people do not find female form in general sexy. I needed to showcase women of all sizes, colors, sexual orientations, because they all have a story…Everybody has a type and a fetish and not everybody is the same.”
Sin continued, “I market pretty women. I tell you why these women are beautiful. They do a fantastic job. When you’re watching them, the idea of size disappears in your head.” Those words rang true during the Nerdlesque performance. This was an inclusive display that featured women as real people with unique qualities and special talents. I was thrilled to find that this was not a carbon copy burlesque show. It was unique in and of itself both in presentation and character.
Le Femme Mystique burlesque troupe hosts shows every month at The Beachland Ballroom. Their next show, Boylesque, will be held on April 15. The show is actually the first male burlesque performance of its kind to occur in the state. The reigning champion of male burlesque, Matt Finish, will be at the show along with other national performers.
For more information about Le Femme Mystique and their upcoming events, visit:
                      Discord Adams (Patrick/2016)
                                                  Red Herring (Patrick/2016)
                                                  Marley Teenie (Patrick/2016)