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On the Impressively Positive Vibes of Video Game Burlesque

At this show you’re more likely to see Venom Snake slip out of a sheepskin than Fulton a spring lamb back to Mother Base.

All photographs courtesy of Helena Exquis Photography 

I once watched Burlesque, as I am a sucker for musical movies and ostrich-feather costumes. But if that film is to be believed, burlesque is a thing that people do exclusively to impress Cher.

And, perhaps, it's that to a degree. We're all, in some way, forever trying to impress Cher. But what burlesque is really about is far more special: fun, laughter, lampooning the things you love, and body and sex positivity.


Every time I've seen a burlesque show it's been as heart warming as it has been face flushing—so much blushing, honestly. And when I see Helles Belles' video game-themed burlesque show, a travelling affair that's stopped for a night at London's Loading Bar, it's no exception to this rule.

It's okay to be uncomfortable around burlesque, as much depends on the setting, the situation—and catching a show once, by accident, in a tent at a garden ball was quite the disorientating experience for me. But here, surrounded by people looking to have a good time, waiting to cheer enthusiastically, encouraging the performers sexy-dancing their way out of so much Velcro-clasped cosplay, I felt comfortable, happy, and entertained.

There was Princess Peach, stripping down to her underwear and stockings, throwing handmade mushrooms into the crowd. A Grim Fandango-inspired turn, complete with briefcase, skull mask and sassy quotes from the game mixed atop flamenco music. A rather genius Link performance had the Hero of Time come on stage already undressed, only to slowly, sensually put the green tunic and leggings on, before pulling the Master Sword from its sheath and running off again.

And, goodness me, was it sexy. There's something wonderful and empowering about seeing people enjoy their bodies, knowing how to work them, how to show them off. Even the newcomers, the dancers who'd never tried burlesque before, seemed buoyed by the audience's reactions, ranging from cheers to giggles to blushes. I might not be getting on stage anytime soon, but I can't wait to see it all again (and you can follow Helles Belles on Twitter, here, for updates on all forthcoming sessions). I wonder if Cher's free for the evening.

Follow Kate on Twitter.