Accidental nipple exposure is an occupational hazard for Gini Noggle, a performer with the Va Va Voom Vixens Burlesque group out of the Humbolt, Calif.
"We wear pasties over our nipples, and do not expose any of our lower girly parts to the audience," explained Noggle, who goes by Jamie Bondage on stage. But she admits that live performances aren't without their hitches. "Occasionally a pastie flies off—it has happened to all of us—and the audience gets a thrill, but it's not intentional."
The Va Va Voom Vixens call their style "neo-burlesque," a variety show in which each dancer performs a seductive, comedic or shocking solo striptease.
"Each act is a showcase for each performers personality," said Noggle. "And her boobs."
For those who think burlesque is just like stripping with out the full reveal at the end, think again. Burlesque performance dates back to the 1800s when shows would include comedians, political humor and—of course—pretty girls taking clothes off, Noggle explained.
"It's all about having a wink and a smile, getting a little peep here and there," she continued. "It's seductive without being overtly sexual. In general, burlesque is the art of taking something not classy, and making it classy."
The way Noggle sees it, neo-burlesque is less about rubbernecking at skinny, scantily-clad women and more about ogling a broader definition of beauty.
"Burlesque performers range in all sizes, shapes, colors, genders, ages—there are no boundaries in burlesque, which is what makes it awesome," said Noggle. "Our troupe has every shape and size, from itty-bitty to plus size ladies. We are big believers that every body is beautiful."
This philosophy has lead the Va Va Voom Vixens to perform across the nation from tiny bar venues to nightclubs that hold hundreds. The group also hosts a six-week Burlesque Boot Camp where women learn to create a character, develop a solo act, work in a group act and take classes on hair, make-up, and costuming. Noggle said that her personal character, Jamie Bondage, is just an extension of herself.
"I wouldn't say Jamie is my alter-ego, she's more like an exaggerated, glitterified version of me and my James Bond-loving self."
And playing Bondage on stage isn't Noggle's first foray into taking her clothes off in front of an audience.
"I've worked as a stripper here and there, which is where I learned how to use my body type and size to my advantage," she said. "I'm 6-foot-1 and in heels I'm close to 6-foot-6."
Part of Bondage's signature kitsch is countering traditional beauty standards and capitalizing on the thrill of the unexpected.
"I have an act where I strip away not only my evening gown, corset and stockings, but my skin as well, all while foaming blood out of my mouth. That act freaks people out, and I love performing it," said Noggle. "[In Bend] I'll be performing my 'Tallboy' act, my homage to PBR. I figured that would go over well in a beer-loving town."
Va Va Voom Vixens with
Saturday, Oct. 17 9 pm
Volcanic Theatre Pub, 70 SW Century Dr.