Burlesque may be as much about what the performer isn’t wearing, but Liberty Rose has put a lot of time into perfecting her Han Solo costume for Friday night’s back-to-back “Star Wars”-themed shows at PhilaMoca.
“It is fundamentally a striptease,” Rose says of burlesque, “But you pick a song, you take a ton of time to choreograph to it, you make a specific costume for everything you perform. It’s a ton of work, especially the scripted shows — I’ve been home all day working on stormtrooper costumes. I’m pretty sure I can say that most people do not come to my burlesque show just for boobs. The boobs are a nice touch, but it’s not the main thing.”
Rose, fellow burlesque — or, “boylesque” — performer Sharp Robert and Philly-based magician Francis Menotti, fresh off performing with Penn & Teller, wrote and are starring in “The Farce Awakens: A Burlesque Tribute to Star Wars.” Sharp Robert plays new character Darth Robert, and Menotti is the embodiment of The Force. Andrew Dyer as Chewbacca, Maso Kiss as Princess Leia, Fem Appeal as Lando Calrissian and others make up the rest of this sizable cast.
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“The show has big group numbers, live music and magic. It’s a scripted story line with all the characters you know — we’re calling it ‘Episode 5.5,’” says Rose. The live music is from Mercury Radio Theater, and animated videos will be projected onto the PhilaMoca screen.
Rose has been doing themed burlesque shows for four years, through Miss Rose Sexploitation Follies. The themed shows, as opposed to the scripted “Farce Awakens,” fall under what she calls “director-based burlesque” — usually a looser variety show based around a filmmaker, though she has also done one riffing on Nickelodeon, and even a homage to the Founding Fathers.
“I’ve always done nerdy stuff as a performer,” Rose, 29, says. “I started out classic, and learned to do more of the weirder stuff as I’ve gone along in the art form.” Her first weird act was inspired by Monty Python: “It was basically me fighting the rabbit.”
Rose is self taught; she didn’t have a mentor showing her the ropes – instead, a Vintage Striptease channel on Comcast on Demand proved valuable — but she does provide guidance for aspiring performers. She has interns.
“I’ve done two rounds of internships. They gets to see every aspect of burlesque before they go fully into it,” Rose says. “They all perform pretty regularly now.”
If you go:
"The Farce Awakens: A Burlesque Tribute to Star Wars"
Friday, 7:30 and 10 p.m.
531 N. 12th St.