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Gem City Burlesque prepares for show at historic Fairborn theater


This week, Kaleidoscope host Juliet Fromholt spoke with Lily Datura and Aurora Maur, two members of Gem City Burlesque. On September 23, the Dayton burlesque group will present Carpe Noctem: Equinox Bizarre at the Fairborn Phoenix, a historic theater in Fairborn. The show will feature burlesque acts, sideshow acts, aerial arts, tarot reading, and more.

In the interview, Lilly and Aurora talked about holding a burlesque show at the Fairborn Phoenix for the first time. Located near downtown Fairborn and the Wright Patterson Air Force Base, the theater originally opened in 1948 and remained in operation until the early 2000s, when it temporary shut its doors. One of the few theaters built in the “Art Moderne” style, the building was added to the National Register for Historic Places in 2005 for its architectural significance, is now operated by a non-profit organization dedicated to the theater’s restoration. According to Lily and Aurora, the Fairborn Phoenix helped guide the theme for Gem City Burlesque’s Carpe Noctem.

“For the Phoenix, the goal was to create a vintage theatrical vibe, as it is an old theater. The theme of the show, Equinox Bizarre, takes into account the early 1900s aesthetics, and it's the perfect environment for that. We plan to decorate it accordingly and have fun with it.”

The theater will provide more space than the burlesque group is normally allotted for their performances, which will allow aerial performers, including pole, lyra, and silks artists, to take part in the show. Other attractions include burlesque routines, bellydancing, sword swallowing, singing, and striptease. The show will showcase both national and local performers.

Lily and Aurora also talked about connecting with burlesque and sideshow performers across America since joining Gem City Burlesque. They say the art form has seen an uptick in popularity since they began performing. Lily told Juliet, “I remember when I first started doing solo burlesque, the hardest part was being taken seriously. But now, people want it. They want to see more of it. They want you to help with their charities or businesses. It’s definitely grown a lot in the last few years.”

Audience members especially respond to the inclusive atmosphere of the event, which starts with the performances themselves. Lilly said, “It really shows how beautiful all bodies are. It’s for everybody… You’re going to see someone who looks like you on stage, like, ‘Wow, do I actually look like that? That’s beautiful.’”

VIP and general admission tickets to Carpe Noctem: Equinox Bizarre are available at gemcityburlesque.com. Gem City Burlesque will perform a Halloween show this Fall at Nowhere in Particular Cabinet of Curiosities in Kettering, and a Winter Solstice show at the Brightside in Dayton. More information about the group, including upcoming events, is available on Instagram, Facebook or their website.

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Juliet Fromholt is proud to be music director at 91.3FM WYSO. Juliet began volunteering at WYSO while working at WWSU, the student station at her alma mater, Wright State University. After joining WYSO's staff in 2009, Juliet developed WYSO’s digital and social media strategy until moving into the music director role in 2021. An avid music fan and former record store employee, Juliet continues to host her two music shows, Alpha Rhythms and Kaleidoscope, which features studio performances from local musicians every week. She also co-hosts Attack of the Final Girls, a horror film review podcast.
Peter Day writes and produces stories for WYSO’s music department. His works include a feature about Dayton's premiere Silent Disco and a profile of British rapper Little Simz. He also assists with station operations and serves as fill-in host for Behind the Groove. Peter began interning at WYSO in 2019 and, in his spare time while earning his anthropology degree, he served as program director for Yale University’s student radio station, WYBC.