Arts & Culture » Stage

Frankly Frankie Gets Dreamy With 'Subversive Dreams' Show


Burlesque has always been stage entertainment on the edge, and in Boise, Frankly Frankie (the stage name of Anne McDonald) is virtually synonymous with the art form. On Friday and Saturday, Nov. 22 and 23, Frankly Frankie will get dreamy with the troupe's latest show, Subversive Dreams, at the Visual Arts Collective in Garden City. This performance's theme is bringing underrepresented voices to the forefront.

“Many of these people live outside the norm, we had an open call for performers who represent those outside of the societally imposed notion of normal to share their dreams of what the world could be,” said Frankie.

  • Courtesy Lola Love, Frankly Frankie Burlesque
  • Lola Love
Subversive Dreams comprises 15 acts and a hodgepodge of performances that include striptease, aerial acts, comedy, singing and other media. Significantly, Frankly Frankie and the VAC are adhering to a pay-what-you-want model to get in, and tickets range from $5-$35. Each vignette imagines the world a little differently, with Frankie giving the example of a world where abortion access is no longer an option.

"Each set is its own standalone thing," she said. "People can be ready to experience discomfort, awe, goofiness, delight, joy and connection."

The evening is hosted by internationally renowned cabaret emcee DisCharge from the U.K., and is headlined by Jo “Boobs” Weldon, from New York. She is the author of a new book Fierce: The History of Leopard Print and is the headmistress at the New York School of Burlesque.

The performance also features Lola Love from Honolulu, Hawaii; and Ophelia Wilde from the U.K. Love co-founded the first neo-burlesque company in her state, and is the producing member of Chicago’s Vertical Sideshow and the executive director of Burly Con. Ophelia Wilde is an internationally headlining burlesque performer. The other performers represent anti-conformist and underrepresented communities; people of color, LGBTQIA, alter-abled, women, sex workers and people of size.

New American burlesque incorporates all kinds of performers and performance styles. There is always an air of seduction at a show, but burlesque is also known for political satire and comedic sketches. The point is to entertain beyond leering, and performances often critique mainstream ideas of sexual orientation, identity and taboos. Inclusivity was a must for Subversive Dreams—an idea that was baked into the show from the very beginning.

  • Roxi DLite Photography
  • Jo Weldon
“I wasn’t on the selection committee,” said Frankie. “Instead, we had judges that either identify as a part of an underrepresented community or have experience in this type of work.”

Frankly burlesque made a conscious effort to make sure that people performing in “Subversive Dreams” were chosen by a panel of judges comprised of an equally diverse group.

The show starts at the door, where attendees can pay what they want to see the performances. In a press release, Frankie wrote, "Money should not control access to art. The entire premise of Subversive Dreams is to live outside the box and to recognize that capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy, and other oppressive systems manufacture perceived 'norms' and feed them to us as fact. Money is an artificial and oppressive construct."

“The show is about making a spook, making some fun and showing culture,” said Frankie. “Some [sketches] are ridiculous, some are punchy and some are political.”

Accessibility is also high on the list of priorities for the show's organizers. The Saturday show will offer an ASL interpreter, and VAC already has gender-neutral restrooms, as well as wheelchair access.

“I know we can’t anticipate everyone’s needs. We are always hoping people will share with us any problems they might have,” said Frankie. “With everyone’s continued input we can keep trying to make the experience better and more accessible for everyone.”