Returning to Juneau for the ninth time, boylesque troupe Mod Carousel is bringing two new shows to Juneau this Saturday titled “Pop!”
Mod Carousel has changed through the years, routines polished, costumes increasingly sophisticated and makeup application refined. But they still like to return to Juneau to debut new material.
Their newest show will feature pop culture icons through the decades, from big stars like Prince and Madonna to the characters from the movie “Toy Story.” As troupe member Paris Original said, it’s whoever or whatever “was on top of the pop culture sphere.”
Mod Carousel is a four member troupe, featuring the Luminous Pariah, Paris Original, Trojan Orignal and Moscato Extatique. The troupe began in 2010, though not all were part of the team until later years, like Moscato, who interned with the group and officially joined after; he discovered Mod Carousel through a college class.
“That was by far the best class I’ve ever taken,” he said.
Boylesque, the male version of burlesque, is more than a strip tease for Mod Carousel, though clothes do become scarce throughout the performances. The troupe combines physical theater, dancing, storytelling and comedy to their work.
“A performer enters the stage, they had an established character and then the magic happens,” said member Seneca Harper whose stage name is The Luminous Pariah; the rest of the troupe go by their stage names. “There’s choreography, music, and by the time they leave they’re wearing less costuming than when they entered. But I’d say our brand is less raunchy and more based in comedy and storytelling and taking people on a journey. One of my favorite compliments that I’ve ever received is that one of my mentors said ‘I almost forgot you were stripping because that was such an afterthought as to compared to what you were doing on stage.’”
Social commentary, while not always overt, is a part of every performance.
“Burlesque in its origins means to parody,” Moscato said. “We do take ideas and power structures and ideas in our world and flip them upside down on their head and make you think about them in a different way or put our own twist on them.”
Moscato embraces gender-bending. His stage persona is gender-fluid.
“I’ve found a lot of inspiration in femininity and in the power that is possess,” he said. “I feel like that’s why so many of my idols – Eartha Kitt, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe and people like that are such great inspirations to me is because of pull of the power from femininity. Femininity does hold so much power in the way that is reflects upon the world and the way that people see it.”
For the Luminous Pariah, he juxtapositions masculinity and femininity as well as “symbols of power” like crowns and officer’s caps.
“I like people to question what is masculinity and what is femininity,” he said, “and who does have the power and what is power.”
• Clara Miller is the editor of the Capital City Weekly. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.