International Erotic Art Exhibition Detroit
Saturday, Feb. 9 and Saturday, Feb. 16
Russell Exhibition Center
Russell Industrial Complex
1600 Clay St., Detroit
Tickets start at $40.
For more information, go online to dirtydetroit.com.
As soon as Jeremy Plante turned 18, he went to see his first burlesque show at the Majestic Theatre in Detroit. “I can remember marveling at the way the audience reacted to the performance,” he said recently in conversation. “I knew that, deep down, I wanted to be able to have that effect on people, too.”
Done up in a come-hither costume as his “boylesque” persona Dixon Derrière, (pronounced dicks-in-dare-e-air), Plante now draws from that early influence to make his own marvels on stage.
On Saturday, Feb.9, and Saturday, Feb. 16, he’ll appear in the International Erotic Art Exhibition in Detroit. Known by some as The Dirty Show, the exhibition features erotic artists from across the globe.
“I am still very new,” Plante warned. But he is learning fast.
Plante’s performances sparkle with Old Hollywood, and it was his love for the era that first led him to the stage.
“Burlesque, at times, is very reminiscent of eras past, and that is what I found alluring about the craft initially,” he said.
Encouraged by friends, Plante said he had been wanting to try burlesque for years, but the timing was never right. Or rather, he explained, he didn’t have the confidence. Then some time studying at the Holly Hock’s Detroit School of Burlesque in Ferndale gave him the courage to finally “pull it off.”
“I knew that taking the courses offered there would allow me to get my toes wet enough to find out if this was something that was right for me,” Plante said, graduating from the program earlier this year. “I continue to take classes at the school because I believe in constant improvement and the instructors there are always offering more neat courses … makeup, dance, fitness, you name it.”
Learning the twists, turns and teases of the burlesque trade — like stocking pulls and tassel twirling — builds comfort when being the centerpiece of the room said Plante.
“Confidence in my opinion is probably one of the two most important things when it comes to burlesque,” he said.
The second is to have fun.
“I love playing with gender and this very much allows me to do that. Sometimes I think of what I do as somewhere in between drag and boylesque.”
“An audience can sense if either of these things are missing, and it will make all the difference in how people remember you,” Plante said.
Absent the voluptuous form that is a hallmark of the burlesque business, Plante focuses on sensually maneuvering his slender frame, in heels to lengthen the legs, with moves that accentuate a butt over bust. His first performance — dancing to a mix of “Malambo No. 1” by Yma Sumac and “Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira — “It had to be one of the most nerve-racking moments of my life,” he said. “Once I was on stage that feeling changed though. After the performance was over, while admittedly exhausted, I knew I wanted to do it again. I think if I had to pick one word to describe the feeling it would be … exhilarated.”
Predictably, Plante names contemporary burlesque performer Dita Von Teese as a source of inspiration in performance; “honorable mentions” include Matt Finish, Chris Oh! and Violet Chachki.
“I hate to sound like a cliché,” he said about his affection for Von Teese. “She to me has been able to take what burlesque was in its glory days and turn it into a mainstream success today.” Adding, “I wouldn’t say I outright try to channel anyone else’s style in particular. I just try to be true to myself and if that happens to be similar to someone else then so be it. I would be beyond honored if anyone did happen to make any performance comparisons between what I do to any of the performers I mentioned because I find each one of them to be truly inspiring.”
More than anything, Plante said he believes people come to burlesque shows because they just want to escape and be entertained.
“Sure, I bet there are some people who might come to ogle, but I don’t believe that is the reason for the majority of people,” he said. “The difference between exotic dance and burlesque is a question I actually get quite often. The main difference to me, lies in the theatricality of burlesque. It’s almost like a cousin to cabaret. I’ve heard it put this way before too: burlesque is the artistry, stripping is what pays the bills. There is a spectrum.”
Playing on that spectrum is what makes the performance fun, said Plante.
“My ultimate goal is to continue to use this as a means of creative self-expression and to inspire others in positive ways through this work,” he said. “I love playing with gender and this very much allows me to do that. Sometimes I think of what I do as somewhere in between drag and boylesque.”
For now, Plante plans to moonlight only on occasion as a burlesque dancer.
“But never say never,” he said. “Who am I to say what prospects may present themselves down the line?” Whatever comes, it’s bound to be entertaining.