Minneapolis Burlesque Festival: "This is a bigger, splashier show than the average burlesque show"

Minneapolis Burlesque Festival: "This is a bigger, splashier show than the average burlesque show"

This weekend is going to be fabulous.

Beginning today, the first annual Minneapolis Burlesque Festival takes over the Ritz Theater for three days packed with 80 of the very best burlesque performers from all over the world, along with a stacked lineup of drag, comedy, and aerial acts. In addition to the four sold-out shows, the festival will also feature classes for aspiring burlesque performers on everything from tassel twirling to glitter makeup.

Before the burlesque bash begins, event promoter (and performer) Gina Louise took a few minutes out of her insanely busy schedule to talk about the fest and what it means to the Minnesota burlesque community.

Performer Blanche DeBris
Performer Blanche DeBris
Photo by Karl Giant

How has the feedback been leading up to this weekend's event?

It's been incredible. All four of the shows are completely sold out, but we're going to be selling standing room tickets at the door. I'm thrilled, and can't wait for the festival.

What makes these four shows so special?

We have 80 performers, and every show is different. The headliners may repeat, but the hosts and performers will be different each time.

What's the most exciting part of this weekend for you personally?

The thing that thrills me the most is that we have the first legend of burlesque Ms. Judith Stein, The Lady Divine! She's a Canadian burlesque performer who made a name for herself back in the '60s and '70s, back when they had the big fans and costumes. She'll be performing and doing a talk as part of the festival. She is a firecracker, and an amazing performer by the modern definition of burlesque. She's amazing to watch, and is just as good now as she was in her younger days. It's going to be incredible to have her.

Photo by Studio Betties Pinup Photography
Photo by Studio Betties Pinup Photography
Performer Ophelia Flame

Backing up a bit, how did you decide to take on such a huge undertaking?

I was producing burlesque shows with Lili's Burlesque Revue since 2004, and it was a tradition to have a festival each winter in Minneapolis. When we closed the last show with Lili's, everyone wanted to go and try different things. I decided I wanted to promote a new festival independently. 

And how has this experience been so far?

I've been shocked and amazed. I'm so delighted that the feedback has been so positive, and that we have so many great performers, classes, and a legend attending. The classes are great because they make the festival more accessible for performers, and I think it's the next chapter of festivals. It gives us as performers the chance to work on our craft and make it better.

Performer Elektra Cute
Performer Elektra Cute
Photo by Emma Freeman

Do you think the success of this festival is representative of the Twin Cities burlesque scene?

I think there is a growing awareness of burlesque here in the Twin Cities. Burlesque is doing really well here, and there are really dedicated burlesque fans. At the same time, I think that this is a bigger, splashier show than the average burlesque show, and some people are thinking this is the one show they really want to see this year. It's going to be the pinnacle of our burlesque scene.


Minneapolis Burlesque Festival
Thursday through Saturday
The Ritz Theater
345 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis

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The Ritz Theater

345 13th Ave. NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413


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