Burlesque and Hipsters

Fashion, like painting, writing, dancing and making music, is an art.

Master_Nick-BBBR-indie4webThe following solely represent the opinions of me, Master Nick, and do not reflect the views of the any burlesque troupe so far as I know.

I’ve created a great many flyers for burlesque performances. I want my flyers to convey at a glance the sort of experiences we’re hoping to provide, and perhaps be works of art in themselves. Most themes give me something to work with, at least a seed from which something specific can grow. But this is not always the case.

I stripped the flyer for last night’s show of my usual artistry, and took it down to bare essentials. Why? Because the theme was “Indecently Indie”, a tribute to Indie music. 

What is the look of indie music? 

You say that music doesn’t have a look? Then what’s the look of Heavy Metal? Goth? Country? Rap? Whether you love or hate any of these genres, each brings an image to mind. I searched online for images of Indie musicians. I perused about ten pages of results, maybe more. If I had to put a name to the overall look, I’d have to say “Hipster.” 

I hear some cry, “‘Hipster’ is a meaningless expression! Stop making fun of hipsters!”If ‘Hipster’ is indeed a meaningless expression, then there’s no such thing as hipsters, and thus no one to get hurt if I make fun. (Perhaps they’re only imaginary creatures, though I dare say my imagination is far more vivid.)

I ask you, what do you picture when you think of a hipster?

Do you picture skinny pants, an unremarkable t-shirt and/or the button-up shirt of a nerd and/or field hand? I do, because that’s what came up in my search, page after page of the most dull clothes you can imagine. Okay, perhaps one in ten wore a scarf. Not a Doctor Who or Gryffindor scarf, but a plain, utilitarian scarf.


bbbr-wonderland-flyer4webYou know what didn’t come up? Fishnet stockings, lace, and feathers. Sparkly accents that catch stage lights. An ounce of skin more than one might see in church. If the pants weren’t so skinny, I’d say a hipster might as well wear a burqa, nun’s habit or monk’s robe. To put it another way, the hipster uniform is the polar opposite of the burlesque aesthetic. Perhaps you begin to see why creating the flyer for an indie/burlesque show posed such a challenge. (I’ve included examples, so you may compare last night’s utilitarian flyer to one that’s gone before and the one coming up next. Note that I still had our mascot Shelly emit tiny floating records from one gloved hand, because damn it, I needed a little magic to counter the dull visuals I kept finding online.) 

At the risk of stating the obvious, flyers are a visual medium. So is a stage show. Some cry, “It’s about the music, not appearances!”
Then why the uniform? Seriously, after ten or more pages of identical image search results, that counts as a uniform. When you wear a uniform outside of your day job, you do care about appearances.

Here’s a perspective which musicians may ignore, or better yet, adopt. When you appear on stage, you appear on stage. You become visible. A live music show is still a show, so show something! Make no mistake, there is a difference between listening to music at home and seeing a live performance.

To be clear, I do listen to a few indie musicians, but do you know who I bothered to see live? The Residents, The Dresden Dolls, Peelander Z from Japan, Mother-fuckin’ GWAR, because they put on a goddamned show!

Master_Nick-bbbr-Naughty4webI also see the Bodacious Bombshells Burlesque Revue, not just because I design their flyers, but because no matter how fine their musical selections, they also perform to please the eye. They dressed up nicely and stripped down naughtily, bringing a kind of art that the indie scene might otherwise lack.

So the hipster liked whatever indie band before it was cool? Last night, burlesque made it cool. 

I guess the hipster will have to go do something else now.

The Indie and Wonderland shows have already happened, but Naughty Nocturnes is coming soon! Watch this for updates on exhibitions, performances, publications and more!


For twisted fiction, acquire a copy of “Gonzombie and Other Dark Tales” http://tinyurl.com/gonzombie

Flyers and Wonderland Art by 
Nick Roberts
 © 2014
Contact me for commissions!


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