Burlesque is a popular performance that was born in the United States in the late 19th century when massive wave of immigration from Europe came to the country. In the country, where diverse cultural ethnicities came together, the Burlesque show, performed by female dancers with humor and satire, was lauded all over the country as an entertainment beyond the language. Paule Saviano, NY based photographer, stumbled upon Burlesque that still participates in the downtown, and started to take a portrait photography of the Burlesque dancers of today. What grabbed his attention was the characters and satire each performer brought on stage. Carefully selecting the shooting place and the situation for each performer, Saviano revealed their "persona" and completed portraits photography. In the exhibition of "Striptease Burlesque", Saviano's first exhibition in Tokyo, around 20 works are introduced.
"Most of these women have day jobs."
I first stumbled upon the New York burlesque scene in 2003. Burlesque shows would take place in the backrooms of small downtown bars. For $5, you and 75 others crammed into speakeasy type rooms to watch Dirty, Martini, Julie Atlas Muz, Little Brooklyn, and Amber Ray perform strip teases on broken down wooden stages. The strip teases ranged from elaborate sensual fan dances in lush costumes to in your face bump 'n' grind stripping.
The broken down wooden stages still remain but the number of people who attend these burlesque shows have grown exponentially in a short time. The performances have spilled over from the backroom of bars to the entire city. Performers from all over the world now travel to New York to be seen on big stages ringed with velvet curtains and mock stages in the backroom of bars.
My interest in photographing burlesque performers wasn't to highlight striptease. The nudity wasn't what attracted me. What grabbed my attention was the characters and satire each performer brought on stage. The majority of these women have day jobs. Hours after riding the crowded subways home from work they would be tassel twirling in front of a raucous New York crowd. The purpose of my portraits was to show the persona of each performer. I wanted an intimate glimpse away from the stage and crowd. As if their character were walking the streets of New York at noon or midnight.
Paule Saviano profile:
New York native Paule Saviano has been snapping photographs since he was 12 years old. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in two majors Visual Media and Political Science from the American University. Since then he's been published in magazines around the globe for 10 years. His fashion editorials and portraits of musicians have appeared in magazines such as Faces, Belio, Index, Resonance, Outburn, and numerous others. He has criss-crossed the world photographing many bands such as Marilyn Manson, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, and Franz Ferdinand to name a few. In the last year he has exhibited portraits at galleries in New York and London. He continues to produce images that blend realism and surreal fantasy. His most recent project involves striptease burlesque artists involved in the rising underground burlesque scene in the US. Paule continues to travel the globe to produce images.
REVIEW - WEEKENDER JAPAN
By Owen Schaefer
Where Ya Been?
When Paule Saviano was growing up, he wanted to become a bike messenger. We're glad he didn't succeed.
At the ripe old age of 11, Saviano took up the camera and never put it down again. He took on every kind of work he could get, but settled into music photography for a long time, touring with Porno For Pyros, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins and a number of other bands until he grew tired of shooting more Stratocasters than people.
But in his show entitled "Striptease Burlesque" Saviano displays his portrait work, and it is here that he shines. The show has a little of both the striptease and the burlesque, and the photos have a wonderfully gritty gloss. All are portraits of models in various states of dress and undress, and in various locations. On his website, Saviano calls his photos a record of where he has been in his life, and those places range from street corners to bedrooms to dimly-lit stages. His colors and images call to mind the bubbles under bright red nail polish, the texture of a velvet curtain. And the wooden sanctuary of Gallery éf should make for a very interesting juxtaposition.