• (Top – bottom) Sugar Du Jour and Lucy Lovegun will be performing at this year’s Perth International Burlesque Festival. Photos by Chayla Taylor.

“Wet seats all around.”

AS covid-enforced proximity has tried and torn at personal relationships, so has it tested connection to place. 

In Western Australia, we are fortunate for the enormous breadth and depth of local artistic talent that has made it a true pleasure to be stuck here. 

This year’s Perth International Burlesque Festival has a little less of the international than its title suggests, but director Jessica Gough says they have still put together an amazing line-up of acts and shows.

Gough – who onstage flies under the banner of The Sugar Duchess – says Australian burlesque is known globally for its emphasis on comedy, and that WA in particular has nurtured a strong sense of community among its performers.

Gough says the role of comedy in burlesque goes beyond the value of entertainment: “It may be political or social commentary, but it’s always a lot of fun.”

She believes comedy allows people to have important conversations in a big, fun and fabulous way that doesn’t alienate.

“I have a crown, you have a crown, everyone has a crown,” she notes. 

This year’s festival upholds the long history of burlesque as satire, or as Ms Gough puts it, of “punching up to the man.”

The genre often takes aim at social and political norms, so it’s fitting it doesn’t have a narrow definition or set of rules. 

Burlesque is defined by its sense of irreverence, and at its heart is versatility with performers often having a background in areas like traditional dance, drag, comedy and circus.

Gough is a long-time performer for whom burlesque is emblematic of self-love and celebration.

Performing has allowed her to tap into that, and being a director allows her to bring it to others. 

In the same spirit of generosity, opening night will be live streamed for free, so that those in lockdown across the globe have an excuse to douse their living rooms in glitter and bump n’ grind under the lights of glowing screens.

The festival pink carpet rolls out in Perth on October 22 and 23 at The Court, The Astor Theatre and Ellington Jazz Club, followed by stops in Geraldton and Kalgoorlie, where it’s not uncommon for bikies to buy performers a round of drinks after the show. 

You can get tickets at

In the words of performer Sugar Du Jour, there’s sure to be “wet seats all around.”


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