How to Apply to Burlesque Festivals

November 9, 2018

burlesque, burlesque festival, festival, how to apply


How to Apply to Burlesque Festivals

Step 1) Select your best act.

No, not that one. That bra doesn’t fit anymore and I’m not sure I can replace, re-fringe, and re-rhinestone it before the submission deadline. What about this one? Not upbeat enough. That one? Not… BIG enough. Why are all my acts crap?

Step 2) Get a good video.

The only video I have of this act is from the very first time I performed it two years ago. Why don’t I have a video of it from ANY other show it was in? Can I get it on stage before the deadline? No? Let’s clean the living room and pray to Dixie it makes a good enough “stage.”


burlesque festival, burlesque, festival, how to apply, burlesque performer, performer application, application


Step 3) Fill out the application.

Shit, where is the updated version of my bio? I have too much junk on my computer. 

Step 4) Pay the application fee.

I will just eat ramen this week.

Step 5) Wait for the email.

Refresh. When did I start biting my nails again? Refresh. F*ck. Refresh.


Burlesque Festival, Burlesque, Festival, Gemmi Galactic, Austin Burlesque, burlesque meme, that face when meme
FiFi Switchblade turned me into a meme.


Step 6) Make your Social Media announcement.

OMG I GOT IN!!!!! / I got my rejection email 🙁 Excuse me while I take a break from Facebook for a few days to eat my feelings. Send tacos.

Step 7) Repeat.

OoOoOoh! Look at that new shiny festival over there! I HAVE to apply!



Both a highlight and a curse of any burlesque performer’s life are the festivals. It seems like every city has one, or three, and performers from all over the world are applying for those coveted 40-ish spots.

Getting accepted means the chance to perform for a new audience and expand your fanbase, and impressing and connecting with performers and producers from other cities and expanding your bookings. Hopefully. And then there are the titles. Winning a title instantly gets you a contract with Swarovski, Southwest Airlines, and Dom Perignon and you are off to live the glamourous showbiz life! *Slow blink, blank stare* Wait, is that not how this works?


texas burlesque festival, burlesque festival, austin butlesque
Texas Burlesque Festival 2018. Photo by James Cano.


Festival spots and titles are a symbol of the hard work we put into our art. Blood, sweat, tears, and a trail of rejection emails tend to come first, though, and sometimes still even after. Does the hard work stop if you win a title? No. Does the hard work stop if you DON’T win a title or if you get a rejection letter? Please don’t let it. Hundreds of stunning performers get refused from each festival. You’re in good company.

Festivals are great and have their benefits,  but they are not more important than the work you do at home. Your local scene, your troupe, and your loyal audience are noble places to set your focus.  Now, go fix that bra so it’s ready for the next submission round.

-Gemmi Galactic
Producer, Frisky Business Burlesque