I went to a wild event last night called Mongrel Vaudeville and it included a bunch of different interesting, gender-bending, body-contorting, burlesque-tastic acts–including my brother doing what he calls “persona raps” (essentially he raps in the voice of an unlikely character, like a spaceman). Lo and behold, they have their own blog.
Okay, I know this all sounds pretty bizarre, but it was super fun and creative and made me feel like I was back in some other era where people met in the backrooms of bars and just played around, made each other laugh, experimented with gender and sexuality, and didn’t take life so damn seriously. I highly recommend it for those of you feeling a little down in the dumpers with all this economic recession.
I was especially interested in the creator’s introduction about the origins and etymology of the title, Mongrel Vaudeville. On “vaudeville”:
Vaudeville was a genre of a variety entertainment prevalent on the stage in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s, so much so that author and theater historian Trav S.D. dubbed vaudeville “the heart of American show business” during that period. It developed from many sources, including the concert saloon, minstrelsy, freak shows, dime museums, and literary burlesque. Vaudeville became one of the most popular types of entertainment in North America, defining an entertainment era. Each evening’s bill of performance was made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts. Types of acts included (among others) musicians (both classical and popular), dancers, comedians, trained animals, magicians, female and male impersonators, acrobats, one-act plays or scenes from plays, athletes, lecturing celebrities, minstrels, and short movies.
The origin of the term is obscure, but is often explained as being derived from the expression voix de ville, or “voice of the city.”
And of course she is reclaiming the word “mongrel”–meaning, “1: an individual resulting from the interbreeding of diverse breeds or strains, especially one of unknown ancestry; 2: a cross between types of persons or things.” The creator of this show takes it from it’s derogatory origins as an epithet to become something wonderful and celebrated.
So what are you waiting for? Reclaim the mongrel-ness of being a creative feminist who breaks gender roles and prioritizes joy over appropriateness and get the voice of your city singing again!