Reading Time: 3 minutes

U of O grads perform in zombie-themed burlesque show

Photos by Mico Mazza

Rotting corpses with an appetite for human brains aren’t what most people would call sexy. But for the fourth year in a row, Rockalily Burlesque will perform one of their most popular shows, Zombie Strippers, and they’re expecting a sold-out event.

“It gets bigger and bigger every year,” says Sahara Starr, a belly-dancing member of the troupe. “Last year we had a line-up down the block.”

At 9 p.m. on Halloween at Babylon nightclub on Bank Street, the burlesque group will perform along with local band Fevers and vaudeville group Mansfield Brothers. Tickets are available at the door for $12, but Starr recommends getting there early.

Rockabilly Burlesque(IMG_2942)-6_Mico.MazzaGoing by their stage names, Starr and Rhapsody Blue are both University of Ottawa graduates and have been performing with Rockalily Burlesque for several years.

Starr, a sociology and business graduate, joined in 2009 after she saw the troupe perform at Sexapalooza. She had a background in hip-hop and belly dancing and wanted to bring something different to her performances.

“I changed my style a little bit, I wore different outfits, and I used different kinds of music—modern music,” she says. “Now I’m back to doing traditional belly dancing because that’s what I prefer the most.”

Blue joined in 2010 after competing in Burlesque Idol, a fundraiser the troupe held for breast cancer research.

“I had been attending Rockalily shows for a number of years and decided, ‘You know, what the heck, that sounds like fun,’” she says.

She had never danced before, but did well in the competition, enjoyed being on stage, and decided to continue performing with the group.

“For me it’s about interacting with the historical tradition in which women politicized their bodies in theatre,” Blue says. “That’s how burlesque got its start: it was the vaudeville circuit. It was dancers and performers mostly making fun of politicians of the day and social topics.”

Troupe founder Helvetica Bold created the Zombie Strippers show in 2010 to pay homage to the Jenna Jameson movie of the same name, and the acts were based on the movie. The show is still zombie-centered, but has branched out over the years to other creepy themes.

“You’ll see a lot of blood, you’ll see clowns, things that put people on edge a little bit,” says Rhapsody Blue.

Each performer has her own way of bringing the grotesque nature of zombies and the sensual nature of burlesque together.Rockabilly Burlesque(IMG_2911)-5_Mico.Mazza

“Some girls go for the camp, the humour—it’s funny, it’s not necessarily titillating,” she says. “Whereas other girls take the challenge of, ‘You know what, I’m going to make the audience feel sexually attracted despite the fact that I’ve got an eyeball hanging out of my face.’”

Unlike Zombie Strippers the movie, in which zombies become the most popular performers, the show isn’t Rockalily Burlesque’s only successful act. But it does promise to be a unique and fun way to have a sexy, sensual time with the undead.


  • Spring 2022: Desiree Nikfardjam Fall 2021: Zofka Svec 2020-2021: Aisling Murphy 2019-2020: Ryan Pepper 2018-2019: Iain Sellers 2017-2018: Ryan Pepper