Akron ‘Nerdlesque’ event raises funds for transgender charity

Gogo Incognito of Nashville TN, Tre’ Da Marc (Headliner) of Minneapolis, stage kitten Bonnie Lass, Dangrrr Doll (Headliner) of New York, Ellie St. Cyr, Annie Mae Allure and Verna Vendetta of Bloomington, IN pose together after the show. Photo by Colleen Carroll.

It was a sexy and nerdy affair at Tangiers in this past weekend as the Midwest Nerdlesque Festival brought performers and fans to northeast for a frisky, fantasy-themed event.

Midwest Nerdlesque Fest presented a variety of pop culture inspired burlesque performances; acts included infamous characters such as Ursula the Sea witch, a seductive Oogie Boogie Man and a G-string-clad Deadpool, just to name a few. Nerd and geeks from all corners were present.

“It’s a burlesque event featured around nerd culture, some cosplay acts and other nerdery,” said Noella Deville, producer of the show. “There’s Star Wars, Marvel, Trigon, Monty Python and the Holy Grail — a whole range of fandoms.”

As the first of its kind in the Akron area, the two-day festival featured over 40 performers from all over the midwestern United States and Canada, as well a few dancers from the Akron and Cleveland region.

Deville began working on the event over a year ago. Ohio is host to very few burlesque events, and Deville, a burlesque dancer and Cleveland native, brought her passion of “nerd-dom” and burlesque together to create the dreamscape event.

The lineup included a diverse group of performers with dancers of many cultural backgrounds. The event showcased several male performers, including one of the headliners, Tre’ Da Marc.

Both nights promoted a -friendly environment, with acts displaying gender-bending themes such as a Shrimp Cocktail’s captivating and feminine “Mr. Krabs” as well as Teasy Roosevelt’s alluring “The Dude” who ended her skit with destroying a Lifesize Trump cutout. Same-sex relationships were also on display with a fan-favorite number featuring a Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy story arc.

Abby Weissfeld, 22, enjoyed the representation of a range of figures on stage.

“It was cool to watch because the performers were all different shapes and sizes. Everyone had unique personal styles and the whole night was like a celebration of those differences,” said Weissfeld, whose favorite Friday night performers were Boob’s Radley and Ivory.

The show’s varied setlist was an important aspect to Deville, who wanted a full representation on stage.

“Marginalized folks didn’t have to pay the application fee, to promote more performers of color as well as some trans performers,” Deville said.

“Burlesque in general is a queer space. A large percentage of the burlesque community is on the LGBTQ spectrum,” said Deville, who has performed burlesque for 4 years. “Burlesque is inclusive in a lot of ways. There’s a community within it where marginalized folks feel more comfortable.”

Funds raised from the show went to Margie’s Hope, a assistance based in Ohio.  

Besides introducing a burlesque scene to Akron, Deville has plans for a Trans Ohio charity event which includes a three-part show at the Tiki Underground in Hudson on January 12.

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