Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 Howard Awards! We are pleased to honor such a diverse group of talented individuals!
Our 7th festival was March 29-31, 2012. New and different for #7 was the addition of a second show on Friday night, the "Last Chance Casino". This cabaret style show changes themes every year and has become a permanent feature.
Our Guests of Honor were burlesque legend Toni Elling (who gave her award to Donna Denise), The Shanghai Pearl, and Jo Weldon. Jo said that she always wanted there be an award for the 'Best Handling of a Costume Malfunction'. Gorejess lost a pastie during her act, and it just made her stronger and more confident... and Jo leapt on the opportunity and bestowed her personal recognition on Gorejess. Since then, we've kept a 'Weldon' award on hand just in case...
The Shanghai Pearl give her personal award to Vanil La Frappe and Vivienne La Flamme, for their rubber ducky duet.
The sixth Great Burlesque Exposition (April 6-8, 2012) finally saw the judges bestowing a Best Hybrid, despite the fact that the award had been kicking around for a few years by now. The operatic Dot Mitzvah wowed the crowd and the judges with her performance of "Glitter and Be Gay", a coloratura aria from "Candide" by Leonard Bernstein. The judges also awarded an Honorable Mention (although no "Judges' Choice) to Donna Denise, citing her Carrie Finnel-like tassel twirling. Special guests April March and The Shanghai Pearl made it unanimous when they also gave Donna their personal honors.
As a side note, in 2012 we also had the spectacularly bad idea of having The Rhinestone Revue at another venue. This created more problems than it solved and we won't be doing that again. One of the great things about The Great Burlesque Exposition is that everything happens under one roof – shows, workshops, classes, shopping, parties, exhibits.
The Main Event of 2011 (April 22-24, 2011) was noteworthy for two reasons. It was the first year that there was no "Best Group" awarded, despite there being several groups in competition. The 2010 title-holder decided, for reasons known only to them, to not award a trophy. We haven't awarded one since, and we miss having troupes, groups, and duets in our competition. Come on out!
Second, the Judges (the 2010 winners plus Miss Mina Murray), empowered themselves and created a "Judges Choice" honor. Rumor has it the producer of the festival was none too pleased by this surprise (since the first he heard of it was when the award was announced from on-stage), but it is now regularly awarded.
2011 was also the last year Joan Arline was with us. She passed away on October 16, 2011, less than six months after performing at The Great Burlesque Exposition. She was an inspiration to many of us and a good friend to The Great Burlesque Exposition. She is still missed.
True to our word, 2010 was simply "The Great Burlesque Exposition". It took place from April 2-4.
In 2010 we introduced a new category to The Howard Awards, "Best Hybrid". The award was a recognition for those performers who combined striptease with another art – for example, singing, juggling, or tap dance. As it turns out, the award wasn't given until 2012, but it was nice to give the judges the option.
The Howard Award winners for 2010 were
Those of you paying careful attention will realize that Scarlett Letter and Orchid Mei had both won in different categories in 2007. Scarlett won as Most Classic, and Orchid Mei won for Most Beautiful. To date, they are our only two-time winners. Also, this was a really good year for Canada.
Our Guests of Honor in 2010 were April March, Joan Arline, and Michelle L'Amour, who bestowed their personal trophies on Mitzy Cream, Tempest Burlesque, and Scarlett Letter respectively.
Our third year (our second in Cambridge) was April 10-12, 2009, and was marked by some official recognition: one of our burlesque legends was Lily Ann Rose, who had been born in Cambridge and performed in Boston for a few brief years. In March, Scratch petitioned the Mayor and the City Council of Cambridge to recognize Lily Ann Rose and they were kind enough to oblige. The opening night of The Great Boston Burlesque Exposition of 2009 was declared Lily Ann Rose Day in the City of Cambridge. The Mayor pointed out that we weren't exactly The Great "Boston" Burlesque Exposition, and we agreed that starting next year, we'd just be "The Great Burlesque Exposition".
Our other guests of honor included April March, Candy Caramelo, Tiffany Carter, and Dusty Summers. As usual, the invited guests bestowed an award on their favorite act. Unfortunately, we don't seem to have it recorded who Candy, Tiffany, or Lily Ann awarded theirs to! Do any of you remember?
In 2008 we moved to The Hyatt Regency Hotel in Cambridge, where we've been ever since, although we were still "The Great Boston Burlesque Exposition". The event was Friday, March 21 through Sunday, March 28. The New England Showcase was scrapped in favor of The Rhinestone Revue, and the winners from 2007 were invited back to perform on Friday night and judge on Saturday night (which is pretty much the way we've done it ever since).
In 2008 we also invited burlesque legends to attend and bestow honors on their favorite performers. The honorees are not Howard Award winners, and don't return as judges the following year, however, they are invited to return and perform at some point over the weekend, or compete in The Main Event, if they wish. The legends in 2008 were April March, Dusty Summers, Gyna Rose Jewel, and Satan's Angel.
2007: Our first year
The first BurlExpo (then called "The Great Boston Burlesque Exposition") took place over President's Day weekend of 2007 at The John Hancock Conference Center in Boston. Our hosts were Miss Astrid, Jay Rodriguez (of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy), David Lawrence XVII (of Online Tonight and later of Heroes), and Scratch.
The Friday night show featured local performers and was called 'The New England Showcase' (and there was only one show on Friday); Saturday and Sunday were much the same as they are these days, with the exception that we awarded a "People's Choice" award at The Newcomer's Showcase on Sunday.
The judges were Miss Mina Murray, Rae Bradbury-Enslin, and Willy Barrett. There was a Most Humorous award bestowed, but it was later rescinded. This was the only year we awarded a "People's Choice Award".