My passion is conscious burlesque.

Contributor: Paul Paiva, M.Div., M.A.

“I wouldn’t go to a burlesque show with someone I had just met, not because there’s anything wrong with it, just because it’s not me.”


This is the response I received from a lady friend with whom I had had a first date.  During that date we were both engaged with each other’s energy.  After ninety minutes of conversation over coffee at Vic’s I felt confident that we had a fabulous rapport.  We agreed to meet again.  A few days later I invited her on a second date to see a “conscious burlesque show at the Dairy this weekend”.


I know that six months ago I may not have wanted to go to a burlesque show, either.  Her response to me, while disappointing, seems completely appropriate.  I have blown any chance of a second date with her.

I have to analyze my own motives.  How has my interest in burlesque evolved?


In my youth, burlesque to me connoted something dirty.  I grew up in the seventies when words like porn and homosexuality were not mentioned at the family dinner table.  Indeed they were not even acknowledged to be part of English vocabulary.

Last summer I attended a sexuality discussion group, called Sex Talk, led by Jenna Noah and Lucy Wallace.  Both these ladies are practicing psychotherapists and graduates of the psychology program at Naropa University.  They founded this group because they recognize our society has few forums where the breadth of sexuality can be acknowledged, much less nurtured.  The group discussions were amazing.  Participants shared deeply of themselves:  stories of desire and arousal, and of the successes and difficulties in sexual relationships.  I found this to be a safe environment; it was refreshing to be vulnerable for ninety minutes without any fear of being scorned or hurt, or of my spirit being squelched.  This feeling of liberation spilled into my day-to-day life as a tonic that revived my post-divorced spirit.

Sex Talk Poster

I later learned that Jenna’s stage name is Madame Merci, and she also does workshops and performances in conscious burlesque.  I heard of an upcoming event, The Seduction of Madness, to be held at the Dairy Center for the Arts in September 2014.   But for me burlesque was still on the fringe and not something that interested me.  I didn’t want that tarnishing my reputation.  Until I learned that a fellow attendee of the sexuality discussion group, Greg, was going to perform in the show.  He and I had gone out for beers and vino a couple of times; he was a new buddy.


So my first experience of burlesque was to support my friend Greg in his performance.  This event was a play with eight scenes based on the late psychotherapist Edward Podvoll’s book, The Seduction of Madness.  The show had ample titillating shots of shaking booty, yet a thought-provoking inner-journey as well.  A story of the stages of psychosis seen through the lens of burlesque.

In the weeks after, I watched dozens of YouTube videos of “regular” burlesque, and attended a live show in Boulder.  Fun.  Interesting.  I get it.  “Regular” burlesque is a jocose risqué parody that revels in sexuality in the numerous places where our society is typically prudish.  As such, it does us a great service.


Last night I attended my second show of conscious burlesque called Love & Loss at the Dairy.  It sizzled.  I found it even more satisfying than “regular” burlesque.  It wasn’t just gorgeous booty.  It is a story of human psyche, of love gained and love lost.  I think of The Arts encompassing all aspects of creative expression.  Isn’t creation the hallmark of sexuality?


Dating advisors say “do your passion” and there you will meet compatible people to date.  Ok.  My passion is conscious burlesque.

Paul Paiva, M.Div., M.A.

A Big Heartfelt Thank You.

My heart is filled with an unexplainable joy. The last few nights of performance have been so beautiful. I have been touched deeply by the performers of Boulder Burlesque.


Their fearless, strong, mindful, hot booties are so inspiring to me. Seeing each dancer transform is incredibly rewarding and impacting.

DSC_0217_AzucarAtalantaEach dancer is willing to be vulnerable and exposed. They give so much- they practice insane hours, offer their bodies, and their hearts. They each are incomprehensibly incredible.

DSC_0142_VanillaI have had the honor to work with these women who I respect so deeply.

DSC_0131_Avarice (1)Each of them teaches me about the power of standing strongly in who you are, and giving deeply from a grounded and sustaining place.

DSC_0203_MerciBethany1I addition I am so inspired by the amazing people who have been so willing to sit on our panel each night. I want to deeply say how grateful in particular to Sara Connell, trans and youth coordinator of Out Boulder, and the incredible work she is offering to Out Boulder, and the Boulder community. Sara is an amazing leader; her voice is so important and impactful. She has taught me a great deal in the very short time I have had the privilege to know her- I hope to continue to learn from her and have the opportunity to work with her again in the future.

Thank you to the amazing audience who came, donated generously, and participated fully!

DSC_0232_Merci_Submissives1We would never be able to dance as vigorously, play as outrageously, or celebrate our flesh so freely with out your incredible hoot-hollering support.


I’m feeling sore all over and completely in love.


Madame Merci

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What do you have planned for your Boulder Sweety?

Posted: February  9th, 2014  Contributor: Aimee Heckel of The Daily Camera

Boulder Burlesque will stage its annual Valentine’s Day show — but , this year, with a new spin.

In 2014, the “conscious burlesque” troupe, which aims to not only entertain but make people think, featured “drag-lesque” performers. This year, the troupe will launch a discussion about the difference between drag dancers and transgender people.

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Photo Credit: Felipe Arredondo

They often get incorrectly lumped into the same category, says Sara Connell, the trans and youth programs coordinator for Out Boulder.

“I think that there is an artistic way to do drag, and not all drag is inherently trans-phobic,” Connell says. “There are ways to use the art form to challenge gender and norms and push people out of their comfort zone.”

However, she says, there is a difference between choosing to dress up a certain way on stage as part of artistic expression or performance, and being assigned a different gender at birth that does not match your identity. Being transgender is not a choice, Connell says.

After the burlesque show — which aims to explore love and loss through dance — Connell will conduct a panel about transgender awareness. She encourages the public to openly talk, ask questions and learn more.

All money raised will benefit Out Boulder and transgender awareness, says Jenna Noah, who runs Boulder Burlesque.

She says she is glad to see the show evolve to help spark new discussions about gender, sexuality, connection and more.

“It’s not just the experience of being in love and having all of the beautiful things, but also the parts of love that aren’t as beautiful and picturesque,” Noah says. “It’s about what it is to lose and long and all of the other baggage that love comes with, far beyond the Hallmark Valentine’s Day holiday.”

Show information:

“Conscious Burlesque” “Love and Loss: A Valentine’s Burlesque Show” by Boulder Burlesque, followed by a panel about transgender awareness, 8:30 p.m. Feb. 13-14, Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, $14-20; Tickets are available here.

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Boulder Fringe Fest: Check out Boulder Burlesque

Posted: September 8th, 2014

Blog By: Erika Napoletano

boulder burlesque

Maybe you watched a crappy movie starring Christina Aguilera and Cher. Maybe you loved a much less crappy movie like Moulin Rouge. Or maybe you’re just a fan of cheek. Whatever your interest level in Burlesque, it’s coming to the Boulder Fringe Festival this month with the great ladies of Boulder Burlesque.

Boulder Burlesque will present Conscious Burlesque — a dance show about a ride through the trenches of madness and beauty. As one dancer confronts the maddening highs and devouring lows of performance she is confronted by the fragility of her own mind. This isn’t your average rodeo! Prepare to be taken on a ride as one woman’s mounting success as a performer leads to her tragic downfall in the streets of New York. Conscious Burlesque does it again- stripping away taboo by exploring madness and sexuality. Redemption comes through the beauty and support of the female dancers coming together in surprising ways. And now, if we don’t have your attention, we probably never will.

Here are all the event details you need to plan your saucy journey into taboo that strips away the taboo.

The 10th Annual Boulder Fringe Festival

Dates: September 18, 20, 22, 25, 27

Show time for opening night (9/18): 8:30PM

Show time for remaining performances: 9PM

Show Location: Dairy Center for the Arts

Tickets: $15 / $13 for students and seniors

boulder burlesque fringe 2014