The New Burlesque 

Torchy Taboo puts the tease back in striptease

Page 4 of 4

"To perform at Coney Island like the famous Tirza!" Wynne-Warren takes a sudden intake of breath, "Coooooool!"

Asked about her burlesque dream to end all dreams, Wynne-Warren doesn't hesitate.

"I have this thing in mind ... I want to be the absinthe fairy. Just something very big and weird. I want people to come home from seeing something that I do and I want them to be disturbed, and at the same time a little excited, and aroused."

Wynne-Warren straddles two worlds: a town thick with strip clubs but oblivious to the subtle powers of womanly seduction, and an imagined world of the past when men were men and dames were dames and the repertoire of seduction was clear. Though she describes herself as an exhibitionist, she is an exhibitionist who likes distance. Burlesque is founded on distance and the power it entails. It's about using your brain, your intelligence, something Wynne-Warren was never allowed to exercise in the strip clubs.

"It's more tease than tell. You engage the human imagination and therefore the real sexual buttons. You only go this far and then you let the person's imagination take over."

During a rehearsal in her Cabbagetown bungalow, Wynne-Warren hands over one of her homemade pasties, and its significance suddenly becomes apparent. In the age of easy-access porn, this fragile costume, the size of a silver dollar, is the great divide. Therein lies the secret of burlesque and Wynne-Warren's talent in particular -- the ability in an age of public disclosure to keep a small part of oneself hidden.

Unlike the professional flirts who work contemporary strip clubs, chatting up customers who down premium-priced drinks, Wynne-Warren never offers the fraudulent promise of intimacy. Such are the contradictions of striptease: provocation combined with a gentle pull back and saucy slap in the face with a pink feather boa.


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