About This Project

Laurie Kurutz

Laurie Kurutz

The Voices of Oregon Burlesque project was conceived and created by theatrical costumer and tailor, Laurie Kurutz, who is now Professor of Costume Technology at The Oregon Center for the Arts: Theatre @ Southern Oregon University in Ashland. This website was developed in collaboration with Chris Petersen, Archivist for Oral History and Digital Projects at OSU Libraries SCARC.

I became intrigued by the world of Burlesque through the work of one of my students, Grace Kent, who performs as Velvet Thorne. Given my background in costume technology, I was at first captivated by the extravagant Burlesque costumes and the theatrical creativity of the Burlesque creators. I began my research journey investigating the specialized construction details and methods that Burlesque costume makers use, and published that costume research at the national conferences of The United States Institute for Theatre Technology.

By delving into the hidden history of this often overlooked and marginalized American art form, I began to appreciate the deeper meanings behind the sequins and feathers of Burlesque performance. This art form often gives a voice to traditionally overlooked LGBTQ+ populations and multi-cultural communities. In choosing my interview subjects, I sought to represent that diversity across the state in Burlesque communities large and small, with performers known both internationally and locally. I sought to represent perhaps not the most famous, but instead to highlight people of all ages, sizes, gender identities, backgrounds, socio-economic statuses, and physical abilities.

Burlesque is a progressive art form where artists use their bodies as a form of resistance, as a joyful expression, and as a means to tell a theatrical story as a force for social change as well as to entertain. The world of Burlesque dances at the intersection of proudly fierce feminism, gender identity, race and sexual politics, and social satire.

In creating this collection of oral histories, my goal is to expand the traditional narrative of history by capturing previously excluded or marginalized stories to create a more accurate depiction of Oregon’s social and cultural history.

Release Date: September 23, 2020

Technical Note

Voices of Oregon Burlesque uses the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer, the Omeka web publishing platform, and the OHMSObject plug-in to present born digital oral history media alongside full transcripts or, more often, detailed interview indexes. The website is built upon the Seasons Omeka theme, which has been lightly modified through custom .css and .php scripting. These pieces of custom code have been released and are freely available for download through the OSU Libraries and Press GitHub instance.