The Empire Strips Back: A Star Wars Burlesque Parody
I’ve attended a fair few burlesque shows, from local Sydney to the height of culture in Paris, France. Nothing has blown me away nor made my face ache from smiling so much quite like The Empire Strips Back.
The Empire Strips Back is a Star Wars parody burlesque show that has toured across Australia and the United Kingdom. I attended on March 9 this year at the Canberra Theatre, having bullied a few friends into attending with me not exactly knowing what to expect and vaguely worried that this would be another hyper-sexualisation of women in pop culture. Instead, I was met with a hilarious and entertaining experience that picked fun at the Star Wars universe and stories that also included getting to see some very attractive people dancing and impressing.
Narrated by the creator Drew Fairley as a tired and unimpressed Imperial soldier who is tired of Darth Vader’s nonsense and may or may not have a large crush on Princess Leia, the experience included various Canberra jokes and a memorable Wookie “roar-off”. The show also had Han Solo and Chewbacca running through the stands hi-fiving people who supported the Resistance. From lady Luke Skywalker washing her speeder to Nicki Minaj’s Starships, to Booba Fett letting off actual flames on stage to Highway to Hell, TESB always gave me something to laugh at or watch in awe as its dancers displayed some of the amazing skills of burlesque.
I spoke to the man who was portraying Han Solo that night – who wouldn’t give his actual name, staying completely in character and insisting he was “Han Solo, princess” – who told me he’d never had such a fun and unique experience in burlesque as he had working there.
Aimed at all ages (above 18), all genders, and fans both casual and hardcore, it’s a fast-paced, humorous, fun and naughty take on one of the most popular franchises of all time. While TESB doesn’t have any more Australian shows lined up, you can still purchase its Playboy/Star Wars parody book ‘Wookieerotica’ on their website, or watch its Facebook for more announcements. I’m still raving about the great experience today, and can’t wait to see what else the group creates next.
All photos by The Empire Strips Back.