In Pittsburgh, you don’t usually expect to see a fire-eater at an acoustic performance, or a comedian playing to a less-than amused crowd waiting to see their favorite punk band.
Yinzer-lesque, a new variety show featuring local performers representing music, burlesque, comedy, and sideshow arts, seeks to change that.
Persephone Paradise — a stage name — says she and Chuck Veri of the band INcO FIdO came up with the idea after she proposed using one of his songs in her burlesque act.
“I jumped right on board with it and we started planning immediately,” she says.
The show, Sat., Jan. 25 at Cattivo, boasts a diverse lineup of adult-oriented acts. Hosted by Abram Balestra of the band The Filthy Lowdown, Yinzer-Lesque opens with Arla White, a local comedian who has also performed with The Velvet Hearts!, a group that touts itself as one of the premier, long-standing burlesque variety troupes in the Rust Belt. Also performing are several burlesque artists, as well as Stolen Stitches, a “unique blend of dark humorous folk songs about the devil” mixed with real-life sideshow acts and some ragtime piano.
“I get to see what [Stolen Stitches is] doing Saturday, so I’m in for a surprise as well,” says Persephone, hinting that, based on the group’s reputation, audience members might see sword-swallowing and glass-eating.
Rounding out the lineup is Aiden Flame, who specializes in shibari, an ancient Japanese knot-tying technique now used in artful, erotic displays of bondage.
Persephone says she sees Yinzer-lesque as finally combining two aspects of her life – the Pittsburgh live music scene and being a pin-up model.
“The main goal of this show for me is, my life is very separated,” she says. “I have the performance side, all my pin-up friends and everything, and then I have the music side and all my friends who are musicians. It seems like there’s never really anything where they all get to be together. With this, it’s kind of bringing scenes together, to grow together, as opposed to everything being so cliquey and separate. That way everybody has a little more support.”
It will also serve as Persephone’s burlesque debut, along with the unveiling of two other new burlesque acts, Morro Dahl and Magdalena Mayhem.
“I’ve always wanted to do it,” says Persephone, who only started doing pin-up modeling two years ago. “I was always too scared to do it I guess, so I finally decided to take the leap. That’s why I started doing pin-up – the ultimate goal was to get into burlesque.”
She adds that the show will feature a mix of traditional burlesque – defined by its combination of striptease, vintage music, and Vaudeville theatrics – and neo-burlesque, which integrates more modern elements like pop music, performance art, and explorative expressions of gender identity. “I would say it’s the best of both worlds,” says Persephone.
Because the theme is just to spotlight local performers and musicians, everyone gets a chance to show off their distinct styles.
“Everybody does their own thing,” says Persephone. “I wanted everybody to come in full force, and that way they’re in their comfort zone and really performing.”
While this is just the first iteration of Yinzer-lesque, she promises that it won’t be the last.
“This is just a trial run to see how it turns out,” she says. “We already are making plans for next year’s [show].”