The World Burlesque Games isn’t just a battle of bras ya’ know. There have been many male winners over the years and today we are talking with one of the best! In the run up to this years event, Burlesque Magazine chats Chris Harder about his life since taking the crown.
Chris Harder, New York *International Male Crown Holder 2012*
How did you get involved in the burlesque industry and what does burlesque mean to you?
I got into the world of burlesque through the back door, in the world of gay nightlife. I was working as a go-go dancer and one night we all had to come up with “Boylesque” strip numbers. I happened to meet Dirty Martini, World Famous *BOB* and Waxie Moon after my show and BOB especially took me under her Burlesque Bossom and introduced me to the NYC scene.
-What led you to apply for the World Burlesque Games?
I had already gotten to work with Chaz the previous year for the London Burlesque Festival and had been touring through England and Europe for several years. So when the opportunity came to be involved with the show again, this time as a competition, I was excited to meet more male burlesque performers, and to represent the amazing New York City scene that has given me such a supportive base for my work.
-Tell us about your experience as a competitor.
I think what I’ve learned from competing at WBG and subsequent competitions is that you can really just bring your best self to the stage. Usually, everyone you’re going to be compared with that night is there because someone also saw something special in them, so psyching yourself out is a waste of time and energy.
And I also have tried to remind myself again and again as a performer to really go out onstage and love my audience, whether it’s a huge seated theater or a dive bar with beer on the floor. I think competitions generaly put performers (including me) on a defensive edge. I’ve never personally found success approaching a crowd with that mind set.
-What did it mean to you to win a WBG title?
It’s great to be picked the “winner” and I think all performers should enjoy those moments when we get singled out for excellence in our work but what I’ve learned most from WBB and subsequent festivals and shows is a title is only more motivation to keep learning, keep rehearsing, and keep pushing to be one’s best performer.
-What have you been up to since your win at WBG?
I’m still very much performing my burlesque shows. Since my WBG title I also began working in the adult industry (or the porn-o’s as my Mom calls it.) And even more exciting for me is that I’ve been writing and producing shows which bring together burlesque, drag, and theater. I will be debuting my one man show “Shooting Star” in May 2017 at the Laurie Beechman Theater in New York City. The work is again a combination of burlesque and monologues and centers around my work in the “porn-o industry.”
The 5th Annual World Burlesque Games 2016, 9th & 10th December.
Presented by the London Burlesque Festival.
Words by Betty Rose Royal