The burlesque scene is full of acts featuring retro hairstyles, lingerie and costumes, revived acts such as the fan dance and jazz and big band music. Artist, dancer and part-time New Orleanian Angela Eve creates some outfits and routines inspired by old burlesque, but she came to the stage via rock 'n' roll.
"I was in OzzFest," Eve says. "I produced a show for the village. It was Ozzy Osborne — like Lollapalooza but for heavy metal. It was edgier. I produced a burlesque sideshow — it was much more fetish oriented. I also made jewelry and had a booth in the artist village. But I was a festival performer for the first few years."
As a teenager, Eve traveled to Grateful Dead shows and later toured with rock and festival events, selling jewelry and getting into event production at a time when Dita Von Teese and Marilyn Manson brought rock and burlesque together. Burlesque became one of the main features of the shows Eve produced, as well as her performing career. At the Snake Oil Festival, she'll perform her Dragon Lady act, which is inspired by classic rock, at "Hoochie Coochie Babylon" (9 p.m. Saturday).
"It's a rock 'n' roll-driven act based on a dragon suit Jimmy Page wore in the '70s," Eve says. "It's kind of a military suit with dragons on it and a 1940s military hat. It's all hand-made. It has a spy/military look at the beginning, but it's based on the bravado of rock stars, with music from Jack White, Led Zeppelin and Alicia Keys."
Eve also will present a workshop (5 p.m. Sunday) on making costumes out of cheap materials.
"Sometimes I am booked and get a big budget to work with," she says. "Sometimes I have to work with less. I am really good at being resourceful at finding supplies at Family Dollar and Dollar General to make a really cool headdress."
Eve's fabrication workshop will show participants how to make a headdress for $30.
The Snake Oil Festival combines all sorts of modern and retro burlesque and sideshow acts. In its third year, organizers are focusing more heavily on burlesque.
"I read tarot for a living," says organizer Little Luna. "Number three in the tarot is the Empress, which is female energy, creativity and beauty. It's ruled by Venus, so we thought it would be a good year to pay homage to women in the carnival scene, and part of that is burlesque."
The festival features three nights of showcases with music, burlesque, sideshow and variety acts. There is a vendor fair at the shows as well. The festival also includes seven workshops and classes on dance (high kicking; twerking and dancing to bounce music) and using hula hoops in an act.
Burlesque dancer Val Valentine and James Taylor (www.shockedandamazed.com), a historian of variety, carny and novelty acts, lead a class on burlesque history at 7 p.m. Friday before the showcase. Valentine danced from the 1950s through the 1980s and was known as "Cupid's Cutie." Taylor is a regular at the Snake Oil Festival. He'll also be at all the nightly showcases with displays on sideshows and with related books for sale.
Festival headliners include Kitten de Ville (Saturday), who was part of the 1990s Los Angeles burlesque troupe Velvet Hammer and now performs in the U.S. and Europe. Vivacious Miss Audacious (Saturday) is a variety show performer from Michigan. Scarlette Revolver (Thursday) is known for using a hula hoop in some of her burlesque acts. The festival also features Dr. Sinn's Freak Island Musical Sideshow (Friday) and drag and boylesque performers, including Johnny Nuriel (Saturday) and Isaiah Esquire (Thursday) from Portland, Oregon. Local performers in the festival include burlesque dancer Gogo McGregor (Saturday) and musician Doctor Sick (Thursday), who tours with the Squirrel Nut Zippers.