noun: white elephant; plural noun: white elephants
a possession that is useless or troublesome, especially one that is expensive to maintain
or difficult to dispose of.
Origin: from the story that the kings of Siam gave such animals as a gift to courtiers considered
obnoxious, in order to ruin the recipient by the great expense incurred in maintaining the animal.
Hysterical. Perfect. Done. Throw in the fact that "WE" suddenly makes any sentence grammatically complicated ("WE welcomes you...") and the acronym WEBS comes out the final terminology to be decided on, "Society," to emphasize the troupe-like nature Fae and Viktor had grown accustomed to within their (then) six years as part of a Rocky Horror cast... Perfect. Done.
In 2007, White Elephant would perform six times, juggling a schedule with Rocky Horror's weekly shows. In October of 2007, Viktor and Fae left the Rocky Horror cast, galvanized and focused to dedicate as much time to the White Elephant Burlesque project as possible. WE would perform 12 times different worlds, like Rochester, New York and Enfield, Massachusetts.
2009 would begin a shift in the collective; we started making more elaborate shows. Through our association with Jeff Mach Events, the White Elephant Burlesque Society launched a web-based promotion of The Candyland Brothel, including faux protesters, fake names, and a whole lot of inside jokes that WE hoped would land when finally put on stage. Indeed, through the support of its audience and the Wicked Faire staff, and a crazy fortuitous cameo from the Dresden Dolls' own Brian Viglione, the Candyland Brothel as a 60-minute concept show made Fae and Viktor realize we sort of knew what we were doing.
WE found more creative success, and Viktor took on full director title in 2012, when Fae moved to other pursuits. Knowing what we learned from in the first five years of producing, the show would go on in various forms throughout the next several years. An additional effort was made to produce more variety-based shows, work with new performers, and truly become a production company foremost. Viktor Devonne incorporated White Elephant Burlesque in 2013.
Viktor made his first non-troupe production work in 2014 with Plucky Charms for Peep Show, a Siouxsie and the Banshees burlesque show in New York City. It was then when he realized the reach White Elephant Burlesque may have as a production outfit.
When attending a live viewing of American Horror Story: Freakshow in October of 2014, Viktor met with the manager and owner of RockBar NYC on Christopher St. Within a few months, on January 12th, 2015, a dream was made reality when White Elephant Burlesque made its debut at what would become its home bar.
White Elephant Burlesque, hosted by Viktor Devonne and starring a calvalcade of 200+ performers since its inception, is at RockBar NYC every Wednesday night. Joined with drag chanteuse Petra Fried for her cabaret show beforehand, White Elephant Burlesque has become a destination burlesque show in the west village, as the most diverse, queer, body positive, and sex positive weekly show in New York City featuring dancing boys, dancing girls, and dancing individuals who have no time for any of that.
White Elephant Burlesque at RockBar NYC, featuring Johnny Panic, Esmerelda May, Regina Stargazer, Petra Fried, Nyx Nocturne, Broody Valentino, Holly Ween, Viktor Devonne, Hazel Tart, DJ TatMatt, Carriage Return, Seedy Edie, Oliver Swisskey, and Lillian Bustle
photographed by Atticus Stevenson