Philadelphia is famous for Independence Hall, the iconic Liberty Bell, and-- for foodies-- its soft pretzels and cheesesteaks. It's also the home of Tabu Lounge and Sports Bar, a seven-night-a-week hotspot which features everything from Drag Brunch on Sundays, to karaoke on Mondays and Thursdays, to many special events all year long. The first Friday of every month, things get pretty hairy-- and hot! Welcome to Bearlesque, the hybrid of Bears and Burlesque (with a touch of drag and gender-bending thrown into the recipe...) One of Bearlesque's most colorful and visible performers is audience favorite Shaun Collins Faulkner, better known by his stage name (And oh, if that stage could talk...!) Pierre Corvair. The performer, who knows a thing or two about getting the crowds excited, spoke with me about Bearlesque, what makes a Bear a Bear, and why you should head to the City of Beary-- uh, I mean Brotherly Love!
JR: Hi Shaun. Thanks for speaking with me. So, how did the idea for Bearlesque get started?
PC: Who's Shaun? (Laughs) I barely go by my real name anymore! So please call me Pierre, all my friends do! Bearlesque is the brain child of Josh Schonewolf and Connor Michalchuk! About a year and a half ago I met Connor at a dinner party at my house and we connected instantly. As the night progressed we discussed my career as a burlesque performer, I love a captive audience! He later performed a burlesque number in one of Josh's competition at Tabu. After the show Josh approached Connor about collaborating on a positive body image show which is what we now know as Bearlesque! Connor asked me to join and I jumped at the chance to be apart of such a positive show and message! So I got my G-string out of moth balls and stopped bathing in Nair! (Laughs) But honestly, I owe a lot to these two men; for believing in me and breathing new life into my career! I will always be indebted to them!
JR: I am so happy you decided to "release the fleece" and liberate your body hair. (Laughs) So, what was the craziest experience you've had while performing? Did you ever have an audience member who ever got out of hand, or a crazy stalker?
PC: Hmmmm, the craziest experience... That's a tough one. I mean there was the time I slipped on stage mid-high kick and did an unplanned death drop. Then there's the people who ask me for my underwear after a show! I've had men try to finger me and grab my cock, but that's part of being a stripteaser. I just coyly remove their hand and tell them that's not included in admission! (Laughs) I do get "yelled" at a bit for not responding to messages right then and there! I find that to be a interesting reaction. It's odd that people don't realize or think that I have a personal life and obligations! I'll get to it when I have time to devote to it. But it's not like that happens often-- thank God. It's a little odd. I got recognized on the street for the first time a few weeks ago. That was an interesting experience. My date thought I paid the person to do that! (Laughs)
JR: Oh, the tyranny of fame...! So, to those who have never seen your show, what can a first-timer expect-- besides some hot and hairy guys peeling?
PC: Well, we have a very talent Sister Bear Pussy VonWeinermuff. She is like the Hanoi Jane of burlesque and female drag queens. She is a amazing performer and activist! Not to mention a sexpot! We also have two amazing drag queens, the first being Philly's Premier Christian Drag Queen and an amazing comedy queen Bev! She always stops the show and will have you in stitches! The other is our very own baby drag queen Cara Kouture: She is such a rising star, so keep an eye out for her!!! And one of my favorite performs is Mika, who is a trans man! He is just so adorable and an amazing human being! I love him dearly! We have a great audience too!
JR: Awesome! So... Boylesque, and burlesque in general, has been making a huge comeback lately. Why do you think that is?
PC: We are perves! (Laughs)
JR: How true!
PC: Honestly, I feel it's the economy and the want for something a little then the standard pole dancer or Chippendale! The people who go to burlesque shows are intelligent, and they want to be entertained and titillated! Burlesque is about the journey and about telling the story. It's foreplay on stage! It's about revving your engines! To be good at burlesque, you have to understand seduction, humor, and the art of the tease.
JR: A lot of people think that being a Bear is all about how big you are or how much body hair you have. But in your view, what makes a Bear a Bear?
PC: I think what makes a Bear a Bear would be sheer masculinity. Twinks, jocks, and other such identifiers focus on the boy, where as the Bear community focuses on what makes a man a man: hair, the musky sent of a man, and fucking like men. The Neo-Bear community is much more than a cuddly, furry, chubby man! It's Cubs, Otters, and Daddy's... Oh my!
JR: For people who have never been to Philadelphia, what are some of the things that the Bears must do while visiting-- besides going to Bearlesque at Tabu?
PC: First you have to check out The Bike Stop which is the Leather/Bear bar here! I love their jockstrap and underwear night in the dungeon (Winks)! We also have an amazing Drag culture here. On any given night, you can see a drag show with some really talented queens! Of course, there are also the museums and historical sites! Its the birthplace of America! Strangely enough, we have an amazing food scene... so eating a lot is definitely on the agenda. Visit Geno's Steaks for a real Philly cheesesteak, of course! We are also getting a Boxers soon, which I'm super excited about!
JR: As a sexy man who works in a sexy monthly show, what do YOU personally find sexy in a guy?
PC: Amazing credit! (Laughs) Intelligence, drive, independence, maturity, and being healthy physically and mentally! I also like a man who is a protector and a mentor! I am pretty "Take Charge" with my career and friendships, so I crave someone who can be my rock and take charge when I need them to! Talent is another one, whether it's art or business! I need a man that with style and flare: Cary Grant and James Dean in one!
JR: Awesome! So, what do you like to do in your spare time?
PC: Spare time? What is this you speak of? I'm working on so much right now! I have a new show starting in Atlantic City NJ: The Royal Burlesque Show at Scores! It will be every Sunday this summer! I'm working on a photo project that I'm calling "A New American Pin-Up", as well as working on ideas for my own show! I wanna do a show like one we've never seen before! So, look out for that! I'm always working on new routines and revamping old ones. So when I do have spare time, I'm with my friends and family! Or I'm watching a old black and white movie or even a documentary! I'm also a very good chef, so when I need to refocus my energy, I'm in the kitchen! I'd love to do a YouTube channel on modern entertaining, dinner parties and soirees and such! I can't tell you how many people don't have a basic home bar or get overwhelmed planning a party? Is so simple and easy!
JR: (Laughs) That's ME! I have become very skilled at crashing other people's parties rather than learning to entertain myself... It's so much easier! So, lastly: At what age do you think that a male or female burlesque artist should hang up his or her G-string once and for all?
PC: Brush burn on your balls and tits! Tempest Storm was bumping and grinding at 85 and is amazing! I think she busted her hip and had to stop! But for me personally, 45 is my expiration date! I think I'll be ready to settle down and have a family at that point or maybe just produce shows. I don't know! That could change; Life is never set in stone! Sexuality never dies, so I like to think I'll still be desirable at any age!
JR: I've always believed that sexiness is ageless... so I look forward to seeing you still plying your trade for Bearlesque 2069! Thanks, Pierre!
Celebrate independence and freedom at the next Bearlesque on Friday, July 4th at Tabu Lounge and Sports Bar, 200 S 12th St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107. Visit the Bearlesque Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/BearlesquePhilly
(All photos of Pierre Corvair by John Donges Photography. All photos of Bearlesque by Patrick Hagerty Photography.)