In a hidden world that he never imagined, photographer Magnus Arrevad has captured the amazing underground world of male burlesque dancers in a series of photographs in a collection called “Boy Story.” Beyond the vibrant stages of drag shows, male entertainers are able to freely express themselves and get the opportunity to “just be [them]self,” as Arrevad puts it. Around the world, this collection illustrates performances—big, small, discreet, and open— through a secret gaze that is tastefully revealing.
The movement has picked up enough momentum to gain a festival following, as well. In Manhattan, the New York Boylesque Festival features 30 male dancers from around the country performing original pieces as well as tributes to the cinematic button-loosener Magic Mike.
“When people asked me what boylesque was, I’d say I’m doing burlesque and I have a penis,” said James Ferguson, 47, (who goes by Tigger! onstage). He is viewed as a pioneer in the boylesque movement, and also held the title as the first Mr. Exotic World at a national burlesque competition in Las Vegas in 2006.
As goes with female burlesque performers, boylesque advocates for acceptance of all body types, and encourages all levels to engage in a new, unfamiliar art form. It’s a little bit of dance, a little bit of theater, and a touch of drag— with a whole lot of attitude.