The Muse, a circus instruction and training facility in Williamsburg, has a new star student: Mr. Gorgeous was just crowned King of Burlesque at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend in Las Vegas.
If you haven’t heard of it, the Burlesque Hall of Fame is considered the Oscars of the burlesque world, and “Best of Boylesque” is the highest award in the land for male performers (that’s right, it’s even more prestigious than Smallest Penis in Brooklyn). Gorgeous took the cake with an ice cream cone act that also featured chin balancing.
So far “not much has changed” since Gorgeous was crowned King, he says. “I’m still running through the same daily routine.” That routine includes working out at The Muse several days a week, doing acrobatics with Trixie Little — herself second runner-up for Queen at the Burlesque Hall of Fame in 2012. Trixie performs both with Gorgeous and her husband the Evil Hate Monkey (Burlesque King 2010) and also sits on the board at The Muse.Mr. Gorgeous says The Muse is unique in that “it’s primarily a circus environment that also opens its doors to other art forms.” In addition to classes in everything from bungee balancing to pole dancing to handstands, the venue hosts a monthly variety show and theatrical productions such as the upcoming “Asylum,” set in a mid-century psychiatric hospital.
As a training facility, it has what Mr. Gorgeous calls “a very relaxed and positive vibe” and what Trixie Little describes as a “really inclusive community vibe” similar to the circus school they both attended, along with Evil Hate Monkey, in Brattleboro, Vermont. “It sucks to train at a place where you feel like people are judging or critiquing you,” says Little.
The intersection of circus arts and burlesque seems richer than ever, as more and more artists are combining the two. “Both require you to be body-aware, and both involve displaying yourself visually,” Gorgeous points out. “Circus tends to be a bit more physical, but I do find myself applying circus skills into even the most basic of my burlesque acts.”
This year at the Burlesque Hall of Fame, the Queen of the pageant, Midnite Martini, was crowned after performing a drape act.
Little, for her part, seems to enjoy Gorgeous even more than his audiences do. “It has been really fun seeing him grow into his own sexiness,” she says. “He is such a humble person, he gets really self-conscious when people drool over him. My advice to him was always to think of it as a role he’s playing—to play the part of ‘The Hunk’ and pretend to be a stud muffin, ‘cause even if he doesn’t feel it, the whole world sees him that way. He never wants to admit that, but when you look like a 6’6” Clark Kent, you’re gonna be popular with the ladies and the gay men.”
J.D. Oxblood (@JDOxblood) is the co-founder of Burlesque Beat.