This past March I was invited to photograph the Iowa Burlesque Festival in Davenport, Iowa. How does an offer like that happen? It actually began the October prior when I met Danielle Colby star of the History Channels “American Pickers.” We were across from each other at Vintage Garage Chicago and we struck up a conversation. We shared a picker friend and I was giving an update on a project I was working on with him. The conversation quickly went over many subjects as she is just as warm and friendly as her image on the TV show. We traded contact information.
In Spring of 2014 I was trying to come up with one more photographic series using my vintage Panon Widelux camera. I was searching for an “old school” subject like Roller Derby, Rodeo or something else nostalgic. I wanted a subject that was intriguing. Something so curious viewers couldn’t help but look. This is where Danielle and Burlesque came in. Danielle has her own dance troupe named Burlesque Le’Moustache. Though never mentioned on American pickers she has made quite a name for herself in the Burlesque industry. So I contacted Danielle once again and pitched my idea, my camera and my goal. She immediately responded and was on board. I only wanted to visit one of her small shows she had scheduled but she insisted I come to the Iowa Burlesque Festival in October. It seems she wanted me to have all access to her most popular festival. Her parents were photographers as well as her grandfather so she loved where this shoot might go.
I must admit prior to this that I knew nothing of Burlesque. I had never seen it, heard it, been exposed to it nor knew anyone in it. What had I just gotten myself into? I must also admit there were many soul searching conversations with myself as to whether this was a good move. I needed to rely on the storytelling characteristic of this panoramic camera. Sometimes it takes vintage technology to do a vintage subject justice. I wanted to see how it might see this performance. Why is Burlesque considered dance? What makes it performance art? This was to be a new experience and just what I was looking for. With this new attitude I packed up the camera and a pile of film and went to Iowa.
This is where the story really begins. Gallery Zeke in Steeleville, MO has now offered me the opportunity to expose to the public what I experienced this May. If you want to know and see more, join me at Gallery Zeke for BOLD’E BURLESQU’E, an exhibited collection of panoramic photos. Share the “behind the curtain” experience of Burlesque. More information will be released as the event nears. Until then, save the date and be BOLD’E.