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Fourth Annual Asian Burlesque Spectacular Comes to the East Village

By Allegra Hobbs | May 13, 2016 5:30pm | Updated on May 15, 2016 7:19pm
 This year's spectacular will feature international burlesque star Sukki Singapora.
This year's spectacular will feature international burlesque star Sukki Singapora.
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Sukki Singapora

EAST VILLAGE— The Fourth Annual Asian Burlesque Spectacular is coming to the DROM lounge on May 21.

The annual spectacular, claiming to be the only all-Asian burlesque event in the country, is aimed at giving Asian talent more visibility in the world of burlesque — while also empowering performers to express their sexuality on their own terms, said an organizer and performer.

“I feel it is time for us to show ourselves in multi-dimensional ways,” said Calamity Chang, a Lower East Side performer who appears at speakeasies throughout the city. “We have never gotten the visibility we deserve.”

Asian women are often overly sexualized, said Chang, but too often denied the platforms to reclaim their own portrayals. Burlesque is the perfect platform to do just that, she said.

And while Chang and her fellow burlesque performers do get negative feedback — with some accusations that burlesque is more exploitative than empowering — she said any hateful pushback is not her problem.

“It’s hard for a lot of people to understand, because burlesque is strip tease, so I do get hate mail,” she said. “But for me, that is something they’re projecting onto me because of their own prejudices.”

Established four years ago at Le Poisson Rouge at 158 Bleecker St., the spectacular on May 21 will take place for the third consecutive year in the East Village at DROM, located at 85 Avenue A.

While the spectacular was first established to grant Asian performers greater visibility, Chang said it is especially timely this year given the recent retaliation against the whitewashing of Asian roles in Hollywood — Emma Stone playing an Asian character Cameron Crowe’s "Aloha," for example — making its core mission even more urgent.

And the show encompasses Asian talent in more than just burlesque — the spectacular will also feature some variety performances, including a rock show from a band called the Slanty Eyed Mamas.

“How many gowns do you need to see come off?” said Chang. “We try to diversify it.”

This year's spectacular will also feature special guest Sukki Singapora, the first-ever international burlesque performer from Singapore.

The doors at DROM open at 7 p.m. and the spectacular kicks off at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 apiece and can be purchased at www.dromnyc.com or at the door.