The Bisexual Organizing Project (BOP) has been quietly building one of the most important burlesque shows in the city for the second year in a row. Bi-lesque: Under Our Umbrella seeks to highlight and make visible anyone under the bisexual umbrella. That umbrella includes those who are pansexual, sexually fluid, polysexual, or who are any other form of non-monosexuality. This show is critical because of the erasure those who are under the bi+ umbrella face, but BOP isn’t satisfied to let the show rest on those basic laurels. They’ve also intentionally brought in several transgender performers and performers of color, making this one of the most beautifully inclusive shows in the city.
That inclusivity speaks for itself when you look at the list of performers taking the stage for this year’s Bi-lesque. Marcel Michelle-Mobama is hosting, and the line-up is comprised of Joy Coy, Stella Rosa, Vod Sinclair, Blaze Bordeaux, Jean Luc Dicard, Deeva Rose, Coco Dupree, Seebie Sparklehaus, and a couple of fun group numbers. Burlesque stars Redbone and Sweetpea are featuring. The chance to shine in a show full of other nonmonosexual people is rare in and of itself, and to do so with some of the most exciting names in burlesque is truly magical. BOP Director-At-Large Shawna McNamara says “A lot of discrimination in society comes from lack of education and understanding. We hope Bi-Lesque will spark excitement with beautifully bold entertainment.”
She goes on to say “Featuring inclusive art that represents our local bi+ community could be an effective way to battle bi-erasure and bi-phobia. In celebrating individuals within the non-monosexual community in a joyous and entertaining light, who wouldn’t want to jump on the equality train to take down the hierarchy?”
Having attending last year’s Bi-lesque: Gender Anarchy, I know that while this show is important and vital, it’s also a stunning show. In seeking an inclusive and diverse cast, BOP puts a group of people on stage together who’s talent can not be stopped. My mouth dropped open several times as performers employed some of their best stage tricks while keeping up an impossible energy level for the whole show. This year’s line-up is sure to thrill us even more, and the show has added a couple of group numbers (also full of nonmonosexual artists) that will keep you surprised and delighted throughout the night.
“The main mission of Bi-Lesque is to host a night of entertaining activism where we celebrate bi+ identities and increase bi-visibility. The vision is to create a space for everyone under the bisexual umbrella to meet, build community, and celebrate their identities,” McNamara explains. This fits right into the organization’s overall mission. If you’re not familiar with the work of the Bisexual Organizing Project, you should be. They’ve hosted countless discussion groups, book clubs, and educational events centered on those under the bi+ umbrella, and their artistic curation prowess is substantial. Their annual Because conference usually includes unique performing arts. This past year that included Lyssa Sparrow’s First Year Queer, and when my own Gadfly Theatre Productions was starting out, BOP gave us one of our first big opportunities. BOP’s mission statement is to “Build, serve and advocate for an empowered bisexual, pansexual, fluid, queer, and unlabeled (bi+) community to promote social justice.” As the group has picked up steam over the past several years, members of BOP and the greater bisexual+ community in the Twin Cities have begun requesting entertaining and artistic events. I know firsthand how important art is to inspiring conversation and opening minds. I also know firsthand how important it is to ensure that the people telling the stories about marginalization or taking over a much-deserved spotlight are those who identify that way themselves. Bi-lesque coming back for a second year is a great signal of BOP’s success at bringing together this community to celebrate art and use it as a form of advocacy.
The best (and most fun) way to show support though is by coming to the show! Bi-lesque: Under Our Umbrella happens from 7:00-9:00 PM on Saturday, January 13th at Lush. Head over to Lush’s website to grab your tickets to kick your new year off right with stellar art and precious community.
BOP is also still looking for sponsors and donors for this event (and all of the great work they do). Please e-mail: