Real Life Burlesque
These photos of burlesque dancers are a result of my interest in seeing performers off stage, unmade up and un-costumed. I wanted to investigate how their on-stage personalities are manifested in their domestic, private moments.
I asked Andi Lawton (aka Honey Birdette of Big Apple Burlesque) to show me some of the costumes she’s collected, bought, and made over the years she’s been performing. As we talked and I photographed, the pile of clothes grew. She pulled out drawers and suitcases of dresses, gloves, hats, and, of course, pasties, telling me stories of where the costumes came from and the different performances she’s been involved in.
“On a couple of occasions my tassels have flown off mid-twirl in performance. Once it was caught on film. The producer I was working with at the time posted the photo on his Web site. It was the one time in my life I wish I’d had a giant over-protective boyfriend with a black belt or something. I have a sharp tongue, though. He took the photo down.”
I wanted to have a different kind of burlesque to pair with the portraits of Andi. After hearing about “New York’s premier Boylesque Stripper since 1997” I became interested in taking pictures of a male burlesque as a counterpoint to the portraits of Andi.
I met Tigger at his apartment in Alphabet city around noon. Lucky for me, he had just performed into the wee hours the night before at the Slipper Room, and he was still in his robe, cleaning off the makeup and sparkles left over from the performance. A librarian-by-day, Tigger allowed me to photograph him in his weary, just-woken-up state, as he drank coffee and regaled me with stories—including his trip to the Miss Exotic World pageant and competition, where he won the first ever “Mr. Exotic World” title and trophy.
Michael Brenson’s David Smith: The Art and Life of a Transformative SculptorBy Brandt Junceau
DEC 22–JAN 23 | Books
This artists life stares back at the would-be biographer, like a gorgon. The author turned a mirror on it. The tale is made to tell itself, witness by witness, snapped off in an unblinking chain of hard short chapters, almost voice by voice. By conscientious decision, maybe a matter of self-preservation, Brenson is a laconic guide rather than interpreter and thankfully, no explainer.
Francine Tint: Life in ActionBy David Ebony
NOV 2022 | ArtSeen
Mostly large canvases (up to 6 by 10 feet) painted within the past three years, in the midst of the pandemic, the works on view in Francine Tint: Life in Action appear as luminous and effervescent as any she has made. But within the parameters of the visual vocabulary she has established over decades, Tint reveals a highly nuanced range of emotional statesfrom exuberantly euphoric to introspectively pensive.
Michiko Itatani: Celestial StageBy Conor Lauesen
DEC 22–JAN 23 | ArtSeen
Theatrical and resplendent, contemporary artist Michiko Itatanis exhibition Celestial Stage occupies the top two-floors at the Wrightwood 659 Gallery in Chicago. Organized by Ashley Janke, this forty-year retrospective is composed predominantly of large-scale tableau paintings, sculpture, and site-specific objects.
Charles Baxter’s Wonderlands: Essays on the Life of LiteratureBy Joseph Peschel
SEPT 2022 | Books
The hardest part of being a writer is learning how to survive the dark nights of the soul, Charles Baxter writes about halfway through his new book, Wonderlands: Essays on the Life of Literature. This isnt Baxters first book about writing and the life of the writer as an artist.