Tuesday, 7 May 2013

A Very Geeky Burlesque Evening

Originally published on Couch Assassin.

With Ottawa Comic Con right around the corner, Ottawa is getting ready to get its geek on! In order to prepare yourselves for this upcoming week-end’s festivities, Nerdgasm Burlesque is sure to heat things up.

Adam Tupper is the founder of Wonder Geeks Activate!, the team behind Nerdgasm Burlesque. Couch Assassin's very own Julie Cormier-Doiron had the chance to speak to Tupper to discuss geek culture in Ottawa and how burlesque embraces the true essence of nerds.

Couch Assassin: What's your involvement in Ottawa's art scene?

Adam Tupper: I've been involved in the scene since 2010 as an artist and promoter. Now I'm an organizer of events catered towards a geeky and nerdy audience as well as a promoter of any and all geeky art and events throughout the city. Some days I even find a bit of time to produce my own artwork.

CA: Tell us about Wonder Geeks Activate! What's the idea behind creating this group?

AT: Wonder Geeks Activate! started as an outlet for talented geeky artists and friends of mine to gather publicly and show off our work. I noticed that all the art events in the city catered to a different kind of crowd and I knew there was a large group of talent going overlooked. The show was designed to be the experience of a comic convention meets Ottawa nightlife. We had local art, electronic music, live videogames and attendees in costume. The strong response from the community for the first event spawned a sequel six weeks later to more accolades so it seems we're here to stay.

CA: Why did you decide to begin organizing events? What type of events do you organize?

AT: As the planning for the very first Wonder Geeks Activate! show was happening, it occurred to me there might be room for more geek-related events other than just art shows. I knew there was an audience for nerdy burlesque so we started planning that event. I gathered a small team together as staff and we started talking about the kinds of events we'd like to attend that would cater to the geeky and nerdy community here in the city.

The events themselves are quite varied. We have art shows, burlesque shows, cosplay events, superhero life drawing shows, live theatre nights, geeky karaoke...the list is long and getting longer. As we see it, if there's geeky events happening in Ottawa, either we're organizing them or supporting them in some way.

CA: What should people expect from Nerdgasm Burlesque on Wednesday?

AT: I've been telling people it's going to be the greatest show in the history of time and space, but that might be a slight embellishment. Some of the best burlesque performers from Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal converge for geeky burlesque that will leave the audience in the perfect mood to attend Ottawa Comic Con - slightly less spectacular but 100% accurate.

CA: Tell us about the lineup of artists/performers. Why did you decide to feature performers from Ottawa and from outside the area?

AT: Our lineup brings in Toronto burlesque superstar Red Herring, who is an incomparable talent in both the geek and burlesque communities; Toronto's Charlie Quinn who is performing her first official show here in Ottawa and is poised to be a break-out in the industry; Montreal's Sucre A La Creme, who in addition to her talent has an epic performance planned; Jolie Stripes, Ottawa's French Kiss; Rhapsody Blue, Ottawa's most colourful burlesque babe; Scare-Ah Lynne, the scintillating seductress of the stage; and Del Roba, head of Ottawa's Browncoats Burlesque troupe. Each of these fantastic women is performing acts inspired by geek and nerd culture.

The burlesque talent in Ottawa is staggering. It's a testament to the industry here that there are so many different troupes and performers and yet all are flourishing. It was a happy coincidence that some of the most talented burlesquers here are also geeks at heart. As for our visiting performers, they are at the top of their field in what is known as 'nerdlesque' - I simply wanted to show Ottawa the best of the best.

CA: What was the appeal of combining burlesque with geek? Do you think that Ottawa's geeks are ready to be tantalized?

AT: Geek culture and burlesque actually share a lot of similarities. Burlesque is about empowerment and being true to yourself - something that geek culture knows all too well. Many burlesque performers have geek interests of some kind. There's a natural synergy between the two - especially in the cosplay arena. Both burlesque performers and cosplayers spend so much time crafting their costumes and outfits, in many cases from scratch. It's all about being comfortable in our own skin and both communities understand that.

I think Ottawa's geeks are ready to come out from the fringe and take their rightful place as a respected community. The old stereotype of geeks and nerds being socially awkward shut-ins is slowly but certainly being eradicated. I think with events like 'Nerdgasm Burlesque' we actually get a chance to see people who don't openly identify as "geeky" experience a world they may never have set foot in otherwise. I think it's more a question of "Is Ottawa is ready to be tantalized by geeks?" and the answer is a resounding "Yes."

CA: Why did you decide to throw this event in conjunction with Ottawa Comic Con?

AT: Outside of the Nerdcore music show being held the Saturday of the convention, there isn't any real nightlife events aimed at the geek community being held the week before Ottawa Comic Con. We figured holding an event aimed at older geek audiences in the week leading up to the big show would not only ramp up our attendance as the city builds up anticipation, but also provide an event that would be quite different from anything happening at the actual convention. We've worked very hard to provide a memorable show to attendees and no one is going to be disappointed.

CA: What's next for Wonder Geeks Activate!?

AT: We have a jam-packed year ahead! June brings another great art show (with a retro-theme) and a day of all-ages life drawing featuring superheroes. July features a night of costumes at an event we're calling "Halloween in July" and August has an outdoor art/table-top gaming/carnival show. We're also involved in Nuit Blanche this year and have multiple shows planned for the fall, all with unique themes. We've definitely activated!

Nerdgasm Burlesque
May 8 at Babylon
Tickets $15 advance

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