A look inside the world of burlesque in Asheville

The Burlesque Academy of Asheville is a school that promises anyone can perform on stage. One of the academy's most popular classes is the Burlesque 101 course. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

This story comes with a warning. It's contains some rather adult content as photojournalist Kristi Harper steps into the world of theatrics at the Burlesque Academy of Asheville, a school that promises anyone can perform on stage.

"The term burlesque in general just means satire, it means spoof. The term burlesque was around in the 1800s. It kind of has its roots in kind of making fun of rich people, which I think is hilarious. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to get naked. There’s a lot of theater in it, a lot of acting, comedy. It is more about, you know, making the peels more elaborate. It’s about getting there," founder and head mistress Deb Aunare said.

One of the academy's most popular classes is the Burlesque 101 course, a six-week class that meets 7-9 p.m. on Sundays.

"It teaches everything you need to know to build your own burlesque character and act," Aunare said. "Afterward, everybody gets to go on stage and perform it in front of a real live audience, so it’s fun.

"I’ve had people as old as 67, I had one girl who had to use a cane. There’s not really like the stereotypical body for it. It's more about embracing yourself as you are -- just, you know, with more glitter."

Aunare said the characters the students choose are sometimes an amplification of what their personalities are and sometimes they are complete opposites.

"My character, she’s just loud and obnoxious. She’s everything that I’m not when I’m at home. I kind of put on this character that’s like, ‘Oh, I’ve got all this charisma and look at how wonderful I am.’ It’s all an act, but you know, the more you do it, the more you start feeling that way," she said.

If you’ve never seen the show, for Risque Monday, there are performers from all backgrounds and all experience levels.

Click here to find information about the classes the Burlesque Academy of Asheville offers.

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