Exposed delves deep into the heart of extreme burlesque with a focus on eight female and male artists who use their nudity to transport us beyond sexual and social taboos. The cutting edge performers combine politics, satire, and physical comedy to question the very concept of "normal." The body types of the performers range from statuesque to transgender to disabled; the film explores their motivations and their ambitions as well as their extraordinary performances.
Review by Louise Keller:
Beyond the sensationalism and explicit nature of this revealing documentary about eight burlesque performers literally and emotionally baring their all, we learn much about ourselves and how we evaluate what is normal. The philosophical depth and sheer honesty depicted in Beth B's fascinating film is liberating in itself. As one artist says 'there is freedom in vulgarity' and as long as you are able to embrace this concept of nudity, exposed genitals and the shock value of everything portrayed in the live performances and interviews, this film is a revelation.
It is easy to understand why burlesque is described as an immediate, honest and sometimes brutal artform. The interesting thing is that despite the huge differences between the eight artists we meet on and off stage, they share a commonality. They are all complex, extraverted rebels who are comfortable in their own skin and who use their bodies to remove barriers. Barriers about gender, sex and the body. As one performer comments, the more times you see something shocking, the less shocking it becomes. Humour is used to deflect the taboos, with which society has lumbered us and as a result it is easy to understand the highs these artists feel as they assume control in the yin yang of burlesque performance.
Here is a snapshot of some of the performers you will meet. Bunny Love smears lipstick all over her face and on R-rated parts of her naked body. Her aim is to blow people's minds. The act she performs in which she is seen in profile - one side is male, the other is female - is indeed mind-blowing. Matt Graser wants to be anything except the school cripple. As a thalidomide baby born with short arms, he becomes more normal by highlighting his differences. His joy is making people laugh and make a political point. He just wants to be accepted: in burlesque, he is. His wife Julie Atlas Muz hides her face with hair but shows x-rated parts of her anatomy. She loves being naked. Their interview together (in bed) is most revealing.
You don't need to be covered in glitter to be loved, says the curiously named World Famous 'Bob', who mixes martinis in her cleavage and who is perhaps one the most complex of the performers. 'How do you cover up cellulite? Cover it with glitter and let everyone see it,' she says. Everyone is scared of something, no matter who you are.' Her philosophy to be the person you want to be is inspiring. Most vulnerable is Rose Wood, the transsexual whose performances range from a fan dance to a shocking rabbi striptease; I cringed when he used a stapler for some unthinkable acts. I also must mention Bambi the Mermaid, whose strip routine dressed in orange wig, long orange gloves and orange crab outfit is not only unique, funny and sensual, but wonderful.
Exposed is a highly entertaining wonderful exploration and celebration of life, art and the human body. It may be too shocking for some, but I for one, adored it.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Beyond burlesque or rather bumper burlesque, this fascinating doco explores a sort of underworld where the apparently freaky performers turn out to be eminently sane, well adjusted and in complete control of their lives. That's what's amazing about Exposed, which at first glance seems to be something of a peep show - but soon reveals itself to be a sharply observed and disciplined exploration of one aspect of the human condition. It reaffirms my own mantra: never assume anything about anyone.
It's full of surprises, and I'll leave them as surprises (otherwise they'd be spoilt and unsurprising). Each of the eight performers has something to say, which informs their work. As we get to know them, we realise that it was their sense of isolation for being different that attracted them to this life; it makes them feel accepted and no longer 'strange' as they are comfortable in this shared environment.
Mat Fraser, an eloquent, blue-eyed young man with an educated English accent and warmly humorous presence - in all respects 'normal' ... but for his truncated arms, the aftermath of thalidomide. He has found how his difference can make him happy. In burlesque he is treated as an equal.
Or as World Famous 'Bob' says, when s/he is asked 'How do we cover up cellulite': with glitter and sequins...
As can be seen from the stage shows, they clearly have an audience, and the audiences look like any other live act audience. They seem entertained by the outrageous.
Exposed exposes some raw truths about humanity and makes us consider our own sensibilities and hang up about nudity and sex as part of the whole picture. Politics and sex, money and sex, art and sex, sex and sex ... the universal currency.
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CAST: Documentaryfeaturing Dirty Martini, Mat Fraser, World Famous *BOB*, Bambi the Mermaid, Rose Wood, Bunny Love, Tigger! and Julie Atlas Muz.
PRODUCER: Beth B, Sandra Schulberg
DIRECTOR: Beth B
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Beth B, Dan Karlok
EDITOR: Beth B, Keith Reamer
MUSIC: Not credited
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Not credited
RUNNING TIME: 77 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Potential Films
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney: Golden Age Cinema, October 17; Melbourne, Cinema Nova, October 24, 2013