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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 1, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 40
GAZM on leading edge of Seattle boylesque scene
Arts & Entertainment
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GAZM on leading edge of Seattle boylesque scene

by James Whitely - SGN Staff Writer

On September 16 and 17, the Seattle boylesque troupe known as 'GAZM' put on their first show together. The two-day run turned Re-Bar (1114 Howell St.) into a sexy, wild, and funny destination for thrill-seeking burlesque/boylesque fans.

The boys of GAZM are EmpeROAR Fabulous!!! (America's Got Talent, The Von Foxie's Von Cock Rock Bonanza Part 2, Vancouver International Burlesque Festival), Jean du Jour (Seattle Erotic Art Festival, Teatro Zinzanni), the Luminous Pariah (Fringe, Bowiemas), and Paris Original (Shine: A Burlesque Musical, Seattle Erotic Art Festival, House of Thee Unholy).

'GAZM was a sort of social experiment,' said Jean du Jour of GAZM.

The name of the troupe and the show, GAZM is/was a multi-media theatrical boylesque performance that utilized video and audio to take the audience around the globe for GAZM's 'world tour.'

'Several cities have boylesque troupes that are named 'boylesque (insert city here).' I feel we are representing Seattle boylesque by having a name that's a little in-your-face and slightly jarring to the conservative general public, as Seattle's neo-burlesque is not your classic bump 'n' grind,' said EmpeROAR Fabulous!!!.

One of the coolest things about GAZM is that all the performers are good enough to know when and when not to take themselves too seriously. Comedy is a theme in GAZM, and all the funny boylesque numbers are over-the-top and well-done, and four were in a constant state of costume change both on stage and off.

GAZM began with Jean du Jour appearing onstage to do a drag/burlesque number to Lady Gaga's 'Telephone.' Jean, who has been doing boylesque for about a year, is very good at using his sex appeal to make the audience laugh.

'Though, to be fair, I have been somewhat of an exhibitionist many years now,' Jean told SGN.

The Luminous Pariah later strips down from a gigantic bird costume to the voice of famous BBC nature documentary broadcaster and narrator Sir David Attenborough.

In addition to the lighthearted parts of the show, the beauty of boylesque/burlesque that many fans seek is fully present in GAZM's show.

Paris Original's professional dance training is evident in his 'Hey Big Spender' number and EmpeROAR Fabulous!!!'s second performance of the show, to a classical instrumental piece, is the best I've seen him do yet - when he lights his costume on fire onstage, it's something that's not to be missed. EmpeROAR Fabulous!!! has been in the art form since April of 2008.

'In my eyes, GAZM was the joining of four men who have chosen the art of the tease as a means of self-expression in an attempt to garner our diverse talents and backgrounds and create something different for people to enjoy,' Paris told SGN.

'There is a lot of burlesque in Seattle and I think it's important for boylesque performers, who are definitely the minority in the burlesque community, to make their presence known. I think GAZM helped draw attention to the rise of boylesque in our community,' said Paris.

The credentials and history of the boys of GAZM are astounding - it's no wonder the four are some of the premier boyslesque artists in the city.

EmpeROAR Fabulous!!! holds a bachelor's degree in music from Cornish College of the Arts, and Paris Original has an extensive background in ballet and contemporary dance. Paris has performed ballet with Evergreen City Ballet, MK Ballet, Ballet Northwest, Spectrum Dance Theater, and Coriolis Dance Collective. All have had a love of performance since their youth.

Both the Luminous Pariah and Jean du Jour are graduates of the Boylesque 101 class put on last year by Waxie Moon - the primary pioneer of boylesque - and Indigo Blue, one of Seattle's most well-known burlesque performers.

'I am honored and proud to say I was a graduating member of the first ever Boylesque 101 class. It was a cathartic experience to develop Jean du Jour from a character in my mind I used to hang out with on mental vacations [to what Jean du Jour is today],' Jean told SGN. 'What happened for me upon completing the course was that I could appreciate my whorish ideas with new purpose and encouragement. Indigo and Waxie are largely responsible for whores everywhere finally having a feel-good story. Jean du Jour is born - a hooker with a heart of gold!'

'What's most inspiring [about doing boylesque] is the freedom of expression it gives me. I can be as graceful, gender-bent, and Queer as I want to be, and it's OK. Often when working with choreographers and directors in more traditional/mainstream forms of dance, the masculine/feminine dynamic of male/female relationships is most frequently presented, especially within the realm of classical ballet,' Paris told SGN. 'Gender roles are always very clear, and often the same from one ballet to the next. They don't want me to be graceful; they want me to be strong. They don't want gender-bent or Queer; they want a stereotypical representation of a heterosexual man. Which is fine and has merit, but there's so much more to explore that also has equal merit. Boylesque gives me the chance to do that in a way that's satisfying and entertains people.'

'The thing that inspires me the most to do boylesque has to be the sense of pleasure I get every time I pull a piece of my costume off. I think, at my core, I love to dress! At the same time, I have always felt compelled to strip. If costumes are a vehicle which we use to communicate ideas impressed on us from our experiences, then to me, the art of striptease is the deliberate abandonment of surviving by means of blending in,' said Jean do Jour.

'The four of us all have different styles,' EmpeROAR Fabulous!!! told SGN.

The show certainly proves it, and in some ways, it's one of the things that makes the performance so impressive and uncommon.

'I'm happy we were able to convey that we enjoyed working together in our performance. This process, however, has been challenging for us. Not to say that we disliked working together, but & we all have very different styles,' said Paris Original. 'The further along we got with this project, the more apparent it became that our personalities and artistic styles and choices just weren't matching up in a way that was conducive to a strong, collaborative group dynamic. This didn't necessarily inhibit the show very much since so much of it was solo work. However, I do think there were a few aspects of the show that were affected by this.'

What GAZM has done is reinforce that these four artists are at the forefront of the Seattle boylesque scene, and that they are only becoming better and better performers with each show they appear in.

The four will likely work together again on future projects, but for now you can see Paris Original in the International Ballet Theater's upcoming production of Dracula (October 22-24 and 29) at the Meydenbauer Theatre in Bellevue. Jean du Jour will be performing at Bump this year (October 29) and will be hosting Teatro Zinzombie on Halloween at Teatro Zinzanni.

Paris Original and the Luminous Pariah will be working together in their troupe Mod Carousel, which has already toured from Seattle to Juneau, Alaska.

'We're both very excited to work together and see how Mod Carousel will develop,' said Paris Original.

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