Bazinga! Nerd is the new sexy
In 2011, Adelaide’s Mema Sifa braved the burlesque stage solo for the first time in the Miss Burlesque South Australia competition.
When her fellow performers, including her teachers and mentors, were twirling glitter pasties and swinging their hips in traditional burlesque-style to great applause and cheer, Mema went up on stage as Super Mario.
“I can never hear anything when I’m on stage and at the time I thought everyone hated Mario and Nerdlesque and would therefore not go through to the final round or go on stage ever again,” she says.
“That turned out to be doubly untrue. I didn’t find out until a while after the show that that routine had gotten a really positive reaction from the crowd.”
Super Mario got a standing ovation and Mema fell in love with Nerdlesque.
She also made it to the top five of Miss Burlesque South Australia 2011.
No mean feat for the first time on stage, and going against the glitter grain.
“I’ve since performed Super Mario at Baby Bombshells as part of the Australian Burlesque Festival in Melbourne, raising money for Movember in a (Adelaide Burlesque Academy) Peaches ‘n’ Gin show and also in their Bloomers: Newcomers show,” she says.
“People seem to love Mario. A guy who can fix your pipes and collect coins? What’s not love?”
She was definitely onto something with the Nintendo game’s hero.
Three years after Mario’s debut, Mema’s now running the show.
BAZINGA! Nerdlesque Nights is the 0nly all-nerd burlesque show at the 2015 Fringe.
Nerdlesque – a combination of “nerd” and “burlesque” with just as little clothing but buckets of geeky guffaws and packed with pop culture references – is getting us hot under the collar with its sexy innuendo and gasp-for-air hilarity.
In quite the coup for a first-time show, BAZINGA! Nerdlesque Nights will star local “Bazingals” hot from the local burlesque scene.
In all their nerd finery there will be: Peaches ‘n’ Gin co-director and Miss Burlesque South Australia 2013 Luna Eclipse, Miss VaVa Voom Pin Up Australia Lottie Liebe, “Burlesque Babe” Adelaide Amateur Performer Competition 2012 Vivienne Von Coffin, “Beginner Pole Princess” Adelaide Amateur Performer Competition 2012 Saskia De Muir, “Burlesque Babe” Adelaide Amateur Performer Competition 2012, “Crowd Favourite AAPC 2013 and “Runner-Up Burlesque Babe” AAPC 2012 Mema Sifa, Miss Erotica Adelaide 2013 Velvet Chase, “Runner-Up Pole Princess Intermediate” AAPC 2012 Prim Phoenix, pole dancer Ali Jean, hula hooper and circus performer with Point and Flex Lisa Goldsworthy, Amy Kate and Amity Nightingale.
If you’re not a nerd, you’re probably thinking, why Bazinga?
Mema is a “massive” fan of nerd-friendly TV show The Big Bang Theory.
“In the show, whenever alpha-nerd Sheldon Cooper makes a joke he says “Bazinga!” in the vein of “Gotcha!” she explains.
“The word represents nerds, pop culture, jokes and having fun and so do we,” Mema says.
“It’s also a genus of jellyfish on the east coast of Australia.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bazinga_(genus))
It’s this glorious sense of fun and cheekiness that cajoled mother-of-two Saskia De Muir into coming on stage.
A huge Dr Who fan with the tattoos to prove it, Saskia has found her niche in the world of burlesque.
“Mema and I are kindred spirits when it comes to all things nerdy,” she says.
“During a burlesque photo shoot she got me involved in earlier this year, she was talking about how she’s been seriously thinking about creating a show that involves both burly and our nerdy obsessions. Obviously this excited me greatly as I would finally have a stage to perform my Dr Who-themed routine!”
A competition jazz dancer when she was a teenager, Saskia took up pole dancing and burlesque about a year ago to get back on stage.
Being a self-confessed “show-pony” Saskia’s delight in finding out she could combine her love for sci-fi and performing was palpable.
“I get on stage because I’m a show pony,” Saskia says.
“I’ve always loved the stage. I’ve been a dance/theatre kid my entire life. It makes me feel completely in control. I love the feeling I get from performing. I’m scared, excited, nervous and blissfully happy.”
This statement comes from a woman who has a tardis and a weeping angel tattooed on her arm which marks the beginning of her Dr Who themed tattoo-sleeve. This isn’t a passing phase.
And she gets to share the excitement with her children.
While they aren’t old enough to see most burlesque routines, so Saskia has tailored some for them.
“I am the mother of two wonderfully unique kids,” she says. “My daughter is a massive nerd burger, like me. They saw me perform The One Ring at Supanova and I would be proud to perform in font of them again. I do a PG version of The Little Mermaid routine, which I filmed and showed them. They love to see me on stage. The comedy ones are their favorite.”
The comedy ones also bring out a glint in Saskia’s eye. They’re easily her favourite too.
She and Mema met in last year’s amateur performer competition where they formed a bond over their love of performing original, comedic routines.
“I was competing in beginner pole (dancing) and she in burlesque,” Saskia says.
“Just quietly, I won my division with a comedy pole routine. Mema and I instantly hit it off. After watching her perform, I knew I wanted to work with her one day. She has such stage presence, is hilarious and you can’t help but love her. She has supplied me with the greatest opportunity to date. Her bringing nerdlesque to the fringe means something completely different, entertainment wise. The show appeals to such a wide variety of people and proves that burlesque is not only for a select part of the community.”
Nerdlesque is a lot of fun for the audience but also for the performer who gets a huge kick out of being on stage and championing a sub-culture they adore, Mema says.
“Most often you’re lampooning something you’re quite passionate about and those routines tend to be the best ones,” Mema says. “For example my favourite routine I do currently is my Lord of the Rings one. I really understand and enjoy LOTR and even if the audience doesn’t get it (but they usually do) I still enjoy it because I get to be Frodo. I think an audience can sense that passion but also a lot of the time they happen to be equally as passionate about what you’re doing.”
The Burlesque scene in Adelaide is healthy and thriving and while a lot of local burlesque performers have at least one Nerdlesque routine in their utility belt, there is yet to be an all-nerd show in SA.
“There are exclusively Nerdlesque shows on the East Coast and those that have toured to Adelaide but have not really included local performers,” Mema says. “I wanted to change that and so I am. Down the track I hope to bring in awesome Nerdlesque performers from interstate but for this first one, I want it by and for us.
“Adelaide geek culture has gone from strength to strength I feel, and gone more mainstream over the years. We have three major conventions: ComicCon, Supanova and Adelaide’s own AVCon which are awesome but also family friendly events and pretty much PG.
Nerdlesque however is 18+ and caters exclusively to adult nerds, exploring the sexier side of what it is to be a nerd. That is not to say that things are overt, it’s still about the tease and there’s no complete nudity. It’s definitely not PG though.”
So it’s safe to say that with all things nerd being so hot right now, there should be people lining up for tickets on those hot and sultry March nights during Fringe next year.
“Unless Adelaide hates fun and beautiful, talented, scantily clad women I’m anticipating it to be pretty well received,” Mema says.
“The only times I’ve gotten a standing ovation or massive crowd reaction have been from doing Nerdlesque routines. I too have certainly gone bananas whenever I’ve seen someone do a Nerdlesque routine so hopefully the show can produce similar results. I have wanted to do a Nerdlesque show for Fringe for a while and almost did a couple years ago but it fell through for various reasons. This time round I’ve had massive support from the Fringe, other burlesque performers and general punters. It’s been really easy and positive so far. What can I say; it’s hip to be square right now.”
Nerdlesque caters exclusively to adult nerds,
exploring the sexier side of what it is to be a nerd.
When the judges at this year’s Adelaide Amateur Performer Competition were announcing Crowd Favourite, the audience started chanting “Me-ma Me-ma Me-ma!”
Fellow competitor, friend, and eventual AAPC 2013 Burlesque Babe winner Vivienne Von Coffin (who stars in Bazinga!) was in the wings joyfully telling Mema: “Listen to that, it’s going to be you!”
“I didn’t want to get my hopes up so just said: “Well, this is going to be very awkward when it isn’t me”… but it was!” Mema recounts.
“As I was up against amazing pole dancers and burlesque performers, it was also a massive and unexpected compliment. I was stoked. Miss Moira’s Costumes awarded me Crowd Favourite out of everyone which I’m very excited about. Not only is Moira an amazing costumier but she shares a studio with Cosplay queen’s Heaven’s Forge (http://heavensforge.com/) where I recently did a workshop on how to create using this amazing stuff called Worbla’s Finest Art. Last year I learnt how to sew through Seams Nostalgic (www.facebook.com/seamsnostalgic) and it revolutionized my burlesque life. Now I know how to use Worbla and a heating gun… I may be unstoppable.”
On that fateful glittery night she had delighted the crowd with a couple burlesque routines but she thinks it was her Star Trek parody Trekkies And We Know It to a Star Trek cover of Sexy And I Know It by LMFAO in particular that wooed the audience to the point they couldn’t help but chant her name.
“As I said, I can never hear anything when I’m performing on stage but I’m told that I got a great reaction,” she says. “When I went back stage Miss Burlesque Adelaide 2013 Nona Mona said: “What the hell did you do?” because the crowd had roared.”
“Nerdlesque, that’s what I did.”
After a sold out 2014, the glittered geeks, glamorous gamers and feathered fangirls are back! Prepare to w00t, LOL and haz feels as these naughty nerds release their soft wares…
“It’s a unique, funny (and of course nerdy) take on a classic genre that just works!” **** Rip It Up
Bazinga! Nerdlesque Nights is on five shows only through Feb and March at various venues around Adelaide (90 mins)
Purchase tickets from FringeTix