‘Beautiful Women’ celebrates ladies of all shapes

Think stripping off your clothes in front of an audience is just for the crowd’s gratification? In the world of local burlesque performers, think again. The new local documentary Beautiful Women shows off interviews with Phoenix-based burlesque dancers that give insight into how the vintage art form is more about empowering the performers than turning on people in the audience, a sort of “new feminism” that gives control to those on stage.

Local videographer Douglas Proce interviewed members from three local troupes, including Romantasy Cabaret, to ask them how they got interested in performing burlesque and how they think it benefits their confidence and womanhood. Burlesque focuses on the tease of stripping, with structured song-and-dance routines that prelude the ladies taking off their duds and donning little more than pasties and thongs before running off stage. The routines are about the build-up and often contain vintage-style costumes, music and props (such as large feather fans that strategically cover up body parts). Since burlesque’s focus is more on the seduction than on the skin shown, it’s a way for women who don’t have “perfect” body types according to society’s standards to still entertain others and feel sexy on stage.

I loved watching all the characters we have right here in town during their interviews and in their on-stage performances. I love anything that makes women feel sexy, and burlesque seems like a way to celebrate an art form rather than just satiate a sexual appetite. For more information on Beautiful Women, which plays this Sunday, September 9 at 2 p.m. at the FilmBar in Phoenix, go here. And for a preview of the film, click here.