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League of Exotique Dancers


Thursday, May 12, 2016 - 7:00pm
Friday, May 13, 2016 - 8:30pm
Community Partner(s)

League of Exotique Dancers

Rama Rau | 
Canada |
 2015 | 
90 minutes

Will include a live burlesque performance.


14A (Frequent nudity; coarse & sexual language)

Who says sex stops at a certain age? Certainly not the women in Rama Rau’s riotous romp through the life and times of the pioneering women of burlesque. Their names read like a veritable star-studded universe of raunchiness. Every one of the women featured in The League of Exotique Dancers has a story, and what stories they are! From Kitten Natividad, who inspired Russ Meyer’s boob empire, to Holiday O’Hara, who shed her thick glasses and frizzy hair and became an alpha female of sex to Judith Stein (The Grand Beaver of Canadian Burlesque) who found a new identity onstage and went on to lead a life of wild adventure.

The film kicks off in Las Vegas, Nevada, with the new inductees into the Burlesque Hall of Fame. Smart, ferociously independent, and insanely funny, these ladies pull no punches in detailing the nature of the business. Despite the glitter and the glamour, the early days of burlesque were no joke. Performers not only had to endure public censure, but sexual violence was also a common occurrence. Judith Stein remembers a performance at a frat house party that got ugly and dangerous very quickly. Although she escaped unharmed, she brought charges against the men who threatened to rape her; they were sentenced to three years of women’s study classes. Stein’s story is not unusual, but it’s also indicative of the survival instincts and rapier sharp wit of the women at the heart of burlesque.

Increased competition from pole dancers and clubs that called for more nudity and less artfulness put a strain on the industry. But even in its period of decline, the performers maintained their spirit and creativity. The League of Exotique Dancers sounds like it could give the Justice League a run for its money, or at least a little bump and grind action. But make no mistake, these legendary women are every bit superheroes, although they fought their way to fame and fortune in little more than heels, a feather boa, and a big old sassy grin. -DW


Rama Rau

Rama Rau trained in films on one of the largest film sets in Mumbai, India. Her passion is to make films that are cross-cultural and examine “the extraordinariness of ordinary lives”. Rama’s short film Aftermath, about the horror of the terrorist attack in Mumbai, premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival’s Court Metrages. Her feature documentary The Market (2010), a never-seen-before journey into the dangerous underworld of illegal international organ trade, premiered at IDFA, was nominated for two Canadian Screen Awards and won prizes in Germany and China. She serves on the board of the Documentary Organization of Canada. Rama's next film, the documentary The Daughter Tree, is currently in production with the National Film Board.