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Razzle Dazzle: Fiery Legend Satan’s Angel Ignites Sixth Annual San Antonio Burlesque Festival 

To cap off the first month of fall, the San Antonio Burlesque Festival plans to make a big splash. Friday night headliner Satan’s Angel describes the fest as “a tight little show everybody wants to be in,” and that rings pretty true when you take a gander at the long list of names attached to the weekend’s events. In contrast to typical burlesque shows, which feature somewhere between eight and 10 performers, each night of the festival showcases a whopping 25 different acts that cover the full range of burlesque styles, from classic and neo-burlesque to circus and sideshow acts, giving a “vaudeville-style feel” to the event, as co-founder and co-producer Lita Deadly puts it. The lineup truly places diversity at its forefront, with performers of color and an overwhelming percentage of queer-identified performers in the mix, many of whom are local to San Antonio. Also, for the first time, co-producers Lita Deadly, Foxxy Blue Orchid and Jasper St. James will co-headline the Friday night showcase, giving the audience a taste of the talent that has been toiling behind the scenes in years past.

Diversity in identity and performance has been a core tenet of the festival from its inception, and it is known for “being a safe space for performers of color, for performers of all different sizes, different ages, different body abilities, people who are queer-identified, trans-identified, [and] non-gender conforming,” says Orchid, who will also be serving as the festival’s host. While the socio-political angle of burlesque is not a new concept to those familiar with the art form, the fraught political environment cultivated in the wake of the 2016 election results makes safe spaces such as these all the more valuable. Indeed, St. James emphasizes the importance of connecting with the audience and allowing attendees to cast off their woes, cultivating a feeling of empowerment that will make them walk out “suddenly feeling like they can hold their head up a little bit higher, they can stick their boobs out a little bit higher, they can stick that ass out a little bit higher!”

For its sixth anniversary, the festival moves from the Woodlawn Theater to the Semeneya Dance Studio, which St. James describes as something like Narnia, since it appears unassuming from the outside but contains a spacious theater with an ideal atmosphere for burlesque. The dance studio, which is tucked off Fredericksburg in Balcones Heights, is a lucky find for the festival, and the organizers are excited to christen the space with high-octane performances and sensual energy.

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January 26, 2022

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