Burlesque show in Bucks County benefits HIV/AIDS organization

On Jan. 26, residents of the Lambertville/New Hope area can combine cocktails and a good cause at Burlesque in Bucks LIVE, a fundraiser that brings together burlesque performers from across the region.

The event is in support of FACT Bucks County, a nonprofit organization that provides awareness, education and financial support for individuals living with HIV/AIDS.

The Lambertville/New Hope area — with its vibrant arts scene and welcoming, bohemian atmosphere — has long been a local mecca for the LGBTQ community. Denise Marshall, a New Hope-based photographer, recognized an opportunity to harness the creative spirit of the region in service of a worthy endeavor.

“I attended a FACT Bucks County event in September of 2018, and I really loved the event, so I knew I wanted to get involved,” Marshall told PGN. She approached David Witchell, vice president of FACT’s board of directors, and the rest is history.

As a shutterbug by trade, Marshall’s thinking ran toward integrating the worlds of performance and visual arts.

“On our local community Facebook page, a video was posted of a bartender who recently passed. Someone had done a retrospective,” she said. “He was a drag queen, and in the video, there were gorgeous black and white videos of him dressed in drag. I was like ding-ding-ding, I know what I want to do.”

The process that resulted in Burlesque in Bucks LIVE began with Marshall proposing a calendar to Witchell. He was impressed, but wanted to know what else she had up her sleeve. The logical next step was a coffee-table book — or cocktail-table book, as Marshall prefers to call it — and everything culminated in a live show.

The event will be held at the Music Mountain Theatre in Lambertville. VIP tickets, priced at $150, include early admittance to the venue, a private cocktail hour, an exclusive pre-show with special guests and a photo opportunity with the performers. Those interested in supporting the event but unable to attend can purchase the cocktail-table book ($75) and 2020 calendars ($20.20) online.

The evening has already caused quite a stir. Marshall reported that general admission tickets were long sold out, and that only a few VIP tickets remained.

The event’s headliner will be the Rev. Legs Malone, an internationally renowned burlesque performer based in Lenox, Massachusetts. “She’s got quite a following across the East Coast,” Marshall said. “And she is donating her services to the event, as are all the performers.”

The remaining lineup will include a mix of professional and hobbyist burlesque dancers. Jennifer Artur, a Lambertville business owner with no burlesque training, decided to participate in memory of her friend Geritol Kaine, a renowned burlesquer who died suddenly last summer. Kane’s glamour shot is included in the calendar and cocktail-table book.

“This event is about acceptance. It’s about community. It’s about giving. And at the heart of it for me, it’s about love,” Artur said in a press release. “Geritol believed in the importance of self-expression, and this event truly represents all the wonderful things about our community that allows each of us to express ourselves in our own unique way.”

Marshall and Witchell believe that the spirit of generosity and goodwill shown to this first-time undertaking is tied to a desire to support FACT Bucks County, which has been performing community outreach in Bucks, Mercer, Montgomery and Hunterdon Counties since 1992.

“We are an organization that primarily does last-minute emergency funding for people who are struggling with HIV/AIDS,” Witchell told PGN. “We have no paid employees and try to keep our expenses to an absolute bare minimum, so we can take all the money that is raised and use it for its intended purpose. We also provide funding for the education for HIV/AIDS prevention, and provide grants and scholarships.”

Proceeds from Burlesque in Bucks LIVE will be donated directly to FACT Bucks County.

In addition to raising funds for a good cause, those involved hope the event will shine a spotlight on the diversity and openness of the Lambertville/New Hope community.

“For generations, New Hope has been known as an artist’s community and a town that takes care of its own,” said performer Kevin “Phoebe” Gilmore. “Burlesque in Bucks truly embodies our community’s collective belief that we are stronger together.” 

To purchase tickets, make a donation or learn more about FACT Bucks County, please visit FACTBucksCounty.org.

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