If you ask 5 people what burlesque is, you will most likely get 5 different answers. Yes, we can all give you the history and origin of where the term came from, but even as performers that are part of the same community, we all have different versions of what "burlesque" is to us.
So, what is burlesque? It becomes a difficult question to answer. In it's current resurgence, some people may simply describe it as striptease and they would not be wrong. Today's standard burlesque act usually involves leaving the stage with less clothing than you entered the stage with. Some people may describe it as satirical theater and they would not be wrong either. Even if your burlesque act is not political, covering yourself in a million Swarovski crystals while wearing a headpiece bigger than your body is still an act of satire.
To me, burlesque is a self-produced short play with a side of sex. I am creating something from start to finish, head to toe, inside and out. I can develop an entire scene making my own props, costuming, choreography, makeup and hair, while using my body and sexuality as the foundation that pulls everything together. The DIY aspect of burlesque is what draws me in, I love seeing other performers creating something truly special all on their own. I believe that is part of the empowerment that comes from this art form.