Burlesque stars shine again en route to Las Vegas’ Burlesque Hall of Fame
In award-winning Rama Rau’s touching, funny and evocative
League of Exotique Dancers
Produced by Emmy Award winning Storyline Entertainment
Opens May 20, 2016
Toronto – Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Vancouver – Rio Theatre
Edmonton – Metro Theatre
Back when the G-string was the point-of-no-return, live sexual entertainment was a formalized affair, with choreography, costumes and women with larger-than-life personalities and attributes.
They were burlesque queens, with stage-names that could be out of a James Bond movie, like Lovey Goldmine, Kitten Natividad and Holiday O’Hara. And as we discover in Rama Rau’s up-close-and-personal documentary League of Exotique Dancers, they were proud performers who chose a life more colourful and dared anyone to tell them no.
The award-winning documentarian uses the Burlesque Hall Of Fame weekend in Las Vegas as a backdrop for the stories of a group of women who ruled Burlesque in their day (the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s). There she discovers a collection of seasoned life-veterans who have not forgotten their moves or lost their attitude, though many had not performed in 30 or more years.
Some of them, like Natividad, segued into other areas of pop culture (in her case, as a leading lady of “sexploitation” filmmaker Russ Meyer), others charmed their way into other spotlights (sexy septuagenarian Marinka coyly drops names of her famous lovers), and others slid quietly into some form of “normal” life.
What they all have in common is a life of amazing anecdotes and experiences and joys and tragedy. The latter, never sentimentalized, includes race-barrier pioneer Toni Elling’s struggles with racism, Canadian burlesque queen Judith Stein’s court battle against frat-boys who’d assaulted her, and the brazenly-profane/hearse-driving Camille 2000’s experience with a husband who gambled away all her money.
“Filming League of Exotique Dancers is one of the most exciting experiences I’ve had in my directing career,” Rau says. “I knew I wanted to capture the glamour of the lives of the Legends, the costumes, the grandeur, the acts. But I also wanted them to be human, with their weaknesses and foibles. They are some of the strongest and most interesting women I’ve met and most have battled with their own private demons.
“It’s a film with many layers, about the glitter, the pasties, the broad sexuality but also about their style, their humour and most of all, the steel under the silks.”
The film opened Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival recently to massive attention and critical acclaim, and now heads into its theatrical run across Canada with enthusiastic fanfare.
About Storyline Entertainment
Established in 2000, Storyline Entertainment is an Emmy® award-winning producer of non-fiction programming with a mandate to create productions with a distinct point of view, international appeal and high production values. Their award-winning films include several Emmy®, Canadian Screen Award and Gemini winners , and have been broadcast around the world on History, Discovery, CBC, National Geographic Channels, ZDF and ARTE, just to name a few. Storyline Entertainment is operated by Ed Barreveld, a Canadian filmmaker with extensive experience producing for domestic and international markets.
KinoSmith Inc., is an independent Canadian film distribution and marketing company founded in 2007 by distribution veteran Robin Smith. KinoSmith is also home to the Hot Docs Collection that releases award-winning documentaries curated by the Hot Docs Festival in Canada. KinoSmith recently teamed up with the Blue Ice Group to start a new global distribution entity called Blue Ice Docs. KinoSmith’s recent releases include IRIS, HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD, and BIKES VS CARS. Coming up in 2016 are THEORY OF OBSCURITY: A FILM ABOUT THE RESIDENTS, THE SHOW OF SHOWS and GAYBY BABY.
League of Exotique Dancers
Presented by TELEFILM CANADA through the Theatrical Documentary Program Produced by 2432333 ONTARIO INC. for STORYLINE ENTERTAINMENT in association with DOCUMENTARY CHANNEL with the participation of ONTARIO MEDIA DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, SVT, NRK, DR2, CANADA MEDIA FUND, ROGERS TELEFUND, THE CANADIAN FILM OR VIDEO PRODUCTION TAX CREDIT and OMDC FILM AND TELEVISION TAX CREDITS