The Grind

Boylesque 101: Part 2—Character Development

In a new monthlong series, writer John Russell takes us inside the burgeoning boylesque scene—and learns some tricks of the trade—with New York entertainer Go-Go Harder’s “Intro to Boylesk” class.

We spent the first class exploring movement in our underwear.

Our instructor, boylesque prodigy Go-Go Harder, guides us through the sorts of exercises you’d probably do in a freshman acting class:  “How would you move if you were just walking down the street and you’ve got all the time in the world?” he prompts. “Now you’re late and there are people in your way—it’s rush hour on the subway!”

We moved as we would in different attitudes, at different paces. We explored creating shapes with our bodies. How would we move if the floor was sticky? If it was searing hot? We moved as slowly as possible without stopping completely. We ended up stretched out on the floor. It might make you laugh and roll your eyes until you realize that it’s precisely that sort of self-conscious reaction that activities like these are meant to help you get over.

If you’re going to do boylesque, you have to commit wholeheartedly to doing ridiculous things on stage in front of strangers.

“The audience picks up on a lot,” says Harder. “But remember, they want you to do well! They’re not there to see you mess up!”

Later, he passes out the week’s handout: a packet on character development. We discuss the difference between your stage persona—the boylesque star you want to be—and the specific characters you might embody in a particular routine.

Harder uses himself as an example: There’s Go-Go Harder, his persona, someone he describes as “the love child of Liberace and Freddie Mercury.” That’s who he is at every show, whether he’s hosting or performing. It’s his brand, in a way. Then there are the characters Go-Go Harder plays when he performs, characters that tell the story within each strip tease.

And that’s our homework for the week: Figure out who we want to be as boylesque performers. Define our personas and come up with characters for our routines.


NEXT: Meet Johnny Darling and other boylesque newcomers