Q-C's first burlesque regroups, has big plans

Posted Online: April 26, 2012, 9:23 am
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By Jonathan Turner, jturner@qconline.com
Danielle Colby is a busy, busy lady.

The talented, tattooed 36-year-old (a married mother of two) is founder of the Quad-Cities first burlesque troupe, Burlesque le' Moustache; a co-star of the popular History Channel series "American Pickers" and owner of 4 Miles 2 Memphis, a clothing boutique in LeClaire. Ms. Colby also teaches burlesque classes; is starting a new "seduction bootcamp," bringing a new burlesque show to the Adler Theatre on May 5, and plans to open her own burlesque and live music venue in The District of Rock Island by October.

"I don't sleep," she joked recently. "They happen to be all those things I love."

Shortly after "American Pickers" premiered in January 2010, Ms. Colby (under her stage name, Dannie Diesel) led the debut of Burlesque le' Moustache at Davenport's Capitol Theatre.

"Over the years, we went from this opulent venue to smaller venues, which we loved. However, I just couldn't shake the feeling that we had lost a bit of our sparkle with the change. The venues we played just did not offer the aesthetic I had envisioned," Ms. Colby said, noting BLM was a fixture at The Speakeasy, Rock Island. "I wanted opulent, I wanted elegance. I wanted a larger venue with a rich history."

"It just felt as though we had outgrown the kind of bar burlesque, and I felt the caliber of the performances was not what I wanted it to be," she said, deciding to partner with the much larger Adler, the ornate 1929 Art Deco-style theater down the street from the closed Capitol.

"It's a real nod to the past," Ms. Colby said, matching the Adler with the retro chic of their classic burlesque shows. "It could not be more fitting." BLM's last performance was last November at Skellington Manor, Rock Island.

Earlier this year, some BLM members formed their own group, Bottoms Up Quad City Burlesque, which is now at The Speakeasy starting this weekend. Ms. Colby emphasized that BLM retains its core original members, including Cheeky Rood, Birdie Belleville, Lucy DeLuxe, Pixie Pistol, and new members Chadillac (billed as "human blockhead" and knife thrower) and her older sister Tara as Molly Tov, a bombshell mistress of ceremonies.

Bottoms Up has "gone in a different direction with burlesque than what this troupe is," she said. "Our dedication to burlesque really embraces the traditional style of burlesque.

"There's a definite quality to burlesque that holds an elegance and a tease," Ms. Colby said. "That is what differentiates burlesque from Daisy Dooks. I have no problem with Daisy Dooks -- we're all out there taking our clothes off. What we offer is elegance, a refinement, a quality of pride in the art form of burlesque."

The Adler show will include a live band, and BLM plans to perform there every couple months.

"We pride ourselves on offering a detail-oriented, beautifully choreographed show focused on dazzling, high-impact props and costuming as well as beautifully hilarious, well put together routines with elegant full reveals," Ms. Colby said. "Ladies leave inspired and empowered and gentlemen leave grinning ear to ear.

Our aim is to provide an exhilarating experience that inspires romance and humor to the couples that attend."

Her sister inspired the May 5 coming-of-age story, "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," which tells of a young "lady," steeped in fantasy and mystery "but laced with inappropriately delicious humor at every turn," Ms. Colby said.

"We are everyday women; we have children, have careers, and also just happen to be in love with this art form," she said. "We get a lot of questions -- how can you be on stage naked? That degrades women. How can you be feminist without embracing your femininity? How can you be ashamed of pieces that God gave you?"

BLM will donate 5 percent of its profits to Light the Night Leukemia Foundation, in honor of Danielle's father, Kevin Colby, a freelance photographer.

"Light the Night has been so wonderful for my father; I want to do anything I can," she said. "He was diagnosed a few months after 'Pickers' first aired." All her sales from the 4 Miles shop also goes to her father's medical bills.

The new downtown Rock Island club will be called Diesel Lounge, for burlesque and live music, and feature burlesque performers from around the country, Ms. Colby said, noting she hasn't nailed down the location yet.

"We'll have certain nights dedicated to members of our troupe, what could be considered amateur night, and if new performers would like to try their hand, we'll have that available as well," she said.

Ms. Colby teaches "Burlesquercize" classes Monday and Wednesday nights in LeClaire, at $10 per hour, in a six-week workshop. She'll start a "seduction bootcamp" May 10, with other dates to be announced.

"We will be working on some basic burlesque and will perfect a cute sensual routine to take home to your partner after class," she said. "As a group, we will delve into great discussion on female sensuality and sexual taboo that will raise self-esteem and empower even the most bashful gal."

"I think learning how to effectively tease your partner is a lost art in this day and age of super-short shorts and itsy-bitsy, teeny tiny bikinis," Ms. Colby said. "There is nothing wrong with showing a little skin, but I feel that women have become dependent on our looks to attract the affections of our mate, and it is a sad, sad fact that looks fade.

"However, your sensuality will burn in your partner's memory for an eternity," she said. "You simply can't Botox a lackluster sex life. Sensuality is passion, and the root of passion is compassion."

If you go

What: Burlesque Le' Moustache.
When: 8 p.m. Saturday, May 5.
Where: Adler Theatre, 136 E. 3rd St., Davenport.
Tickets: $25; VIP seats for $62, including two drink tickets, and an after-party at the Bucktown Center for the Arts, 225 E. 2nd St., Davenport. There will be a private "female form sketch session" called "Burly Scribbles," and each VIP ticket-holder can sketch the live burlesque dancers in various forms of dance for one hour in a private group. Call (563) 326-8553, (800) 745-3000 or visit adlertheatre.com or ticketmaster.com.
Classes: To sign up for classes, email burlesquelemoustache@gmail.com.


Local events heading

  Today is Friday, Sept. 19, the 262nd day of 2014. There are 103 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: Charles M. Osborn of this city, a lawyer of prominence, who voted for Lincoln in 1860 is now out strong for McClellan and will take the stump for him.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The George Fleming company had begun its dried fruit packing in a branch plant on 16th Street, Rock Island, employing nearly a hundred workers.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The cornerstone of the new Eagles home was laid. Building committee members were John Kobeman, Fred Ehmke and Frank Wich.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Former Kaiser Wilhelm, in exile, is sad as the Nazis march with communists.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Ninety-two members of the acappella choir at Davenport's West High School today accepted an invitation to perform at the New York World's Fair on June 13, 1965.
1989 -- 25 years ago: A Rock Island woman is one of 50 winners of $10,000 in cash in the Illinois State Lottery's "Celebration "89" instant ticket game. Dawn Loeffler was the third winner to be chosen through daily drawings that began Aug. 28 and will run 50 consecutive days.

(More History)