The idea for Operation Bombshell came to Burana about a year ago when she met a young saleswoman at a Victoria’s Secret store who was wearing her deployed husband’s dog tags. “I had this bizarre wacky moment of divine inspiration to give these women an escape by doing what I do best,” she said.To Keep Home Fires Burning, Grab That Boa - NYTimes.com. My first response to Operation Bombshell is that it was a terrible idea, a way of further commodifying sexual relationships (burlesque was always a commercial form). But the more I think about burlesque as military marital aid, the more I like it. Like Ms. Burana, I too have found inspiration at Victoria's Secret as well as at burlesque shows the world over. Burlesque, as I said in the encyclopedia,
like nearly all of popular culture, began in the hurly-burly of the Victorian age. Industrialization, the creation of a large working class in opposition to a newly powerful middle class, a new mass culture of consumption, and a system of racial and national hierarchies within an empire created the perfect climate for burlesque, a working-class entertainment in which all rules could be broken for comic effect and profit. Indeed, it was exactly this “slap in the face” aspect of burlesque that made it such an important part of the growing entertainment industry. Burlesque routines rewrote so-called higher art forms, such as opera, as comedy and farce.In other words, burlesque is exactly what the soldiers and soldiers' wives need: a source of bawdy humor that is also a social critique, a slap in the face, to the powers that control their lives. Like working class men and women a century ago, today's enlisted soldiers are being screwed by a system that sends working class Americans to war after war after war, while the ruling classes (myself included) would never consider risking our lives for a system from which we benefit the most. Burlesque has a way of making the absurdity of such power hierarchies funny and sexy. Burlesque- like carnival- also has a way of overturning those hierarchies- of mocking the high and mighty and making us desire the "dirty." By stripping and teasing and mocking, these soldiers' wives might just get their soldier husbands turned on to more than their bodies. Burlesque as military marital aid might just get soldiers turned on to the body politic as well.