Boylesque 101 – Probably Not Safe For Work
About a month ago I was on a shoot and received a phone call from my editor pal at the New York Times Styles Desk about an assignment the following day. Given that I was in the middle of another shoot, the call was quick and all I really remembered was the words “burlesque class tomorrow in Williamsburg”. I said, “sure, send me the info.”
The next morning I took a more detailed look at the assignment slip and realized it was a little different than I’d envisioned:
Instructions: The rise of “Boylesque” — that’s burlesque dancing for guys. There’s a class happening this Sunday in Williamsburg. Need scenes from the class, there will be 8 pupils. ***Please creatively frame the photos so that there is no blatant nudity.****
Ohhh…. BOYlesque, not BURlesque! And avoid blatant male nudity? Oh my, what did I get myself into?
I made my way to Williamsburg, Brooklyn and found myself in a large warehouse-style building searching for the dance studio within. I finally found the space, which turned out to be a very small studio with 9 sweaty men sporting only jock straps or thong underwear. Oh yeah, the room was hot, moist, and smelled like sweaty balls.
When I arrived the undressed men were sitting in a row of chairs watching as each student took a turn performing a short routine in which they pretended to give a striptease while taking off imaginary clothes. They were wearing only thongs for this portion. The goal was to get the rest of the group to guess what character they were representing and what sort of imaginary clothes they were taking off.
Afterward, the instructor provided various props and costumes that the students were to use for a striptease routine. Though only three students gave their OK for me to shoot, I still I got quite enough to work with.
I will say, though, the toughest part of this assignments was having to kneel behind the sweaty butt cracks of the seated students in order to frame the photo and hide myself from reflecting in the mirror. I won’t soon forget this assignment…