Scripture, Striptease and Self-Expression

BY SHAYNA WALTOWER

What do the Bible and striptease have in common? To Tinker Nantucket and Lady Helhath, they are the perfect pair.

Nantucket and Helhath are the coproducers of Bible Belt Burlesque or BBB, a burlesque performance company located in the heart of downtown Perry.

“We’re in the Bible Belt, and for some reason (the name) struck me as ironic and hilarious,” Nantucket said.

She got the idea to start the company in 2012 after attending a workshop and developing her other company, Perry Belly Dance.

“Just on a whim, I said, just being funny, ‘I’m going to start a troupe, and I’m going to call it Bible Belt Burlesque,’” she said.

Five years later, the company has a variety of performers, each with unique talents. In addition to dancers, their shows feature jugglers, singers, comedians and musicians.

“A true burlesque experience isn’t just dancing,” Helhath said. “We really try to give everybody a complete variety show.”

The company performs at multiple locations around Middle Georgia, including several venues in Macon, such as the Ampersand Art Guild, the Hummingbird and the Cox Capitol Theatre.

“We do two big shows a year,” Helhath said. “And then we do several smaller shows. We usually do a Halloween show, sometimes a Valentine’s Day show, and you can see some things there that you wouldn’t see at our standard shows.”

These performances have many of the traditional elements of burlesque, like “feather and fan and glitter striptease,” Nantucket said. But they also include greater messages.

“Sometimes there isn’t striptease,” Helhath said.

“We use our platform…to showcase that all bodies, no matter age, size, color, race (or) sexual identity are beautiful and worth showcasing. We also use it as political and social commentary and as different venues for different types of self expression,” Nantucket said.

Ashley Longaker, who goes by her stage name, “Fifi Nomenon,” has been performing with BBB for two years. She said burlesque gave her a way to express herself after losing her father.

“It allowed me to gain myself back and not fall into depression, because I was able to really focus on creating who Fifi was,” she said.

At the end of this month the company will begin “Sunday School” classes for beginners ready to enter the world of burlesque.