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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Director Jon Manning Talks Burlesque: Heart of the Glitter Tribe

Burlesque shows are sweeping the country as a new art form that isn’t so new. It’s renewed!

Burlesque shows are an artistic form that has been seen in all the big cities, including L.A., New York, Miami, and more. But now it is making it’s way into all the cities in between. We got to talk with Director Jon Manning about his most recent project “Burlesque: Heart of the Glitter Tribe” where he takes us on an insiders look into the world of Burlesque dancing, the talent behind the show, and why we love it so much. Check out what he had to say about this film.


KRISTIN: Before we get into your most recent project, let’s talk about how you became a director? What drew you to entertainment?

JON: I have been a lifelong filmmaker – that’s 38 years working as a filmmaker now. I was originally drawn to film as it related to nature and specifically shooting underwater. So as a kid my parents helped me learn scuba diving and then I got accepted into one of the most prestigious film schools in the US, Brooks Institute. That was 1974 and I’ve never looked back.

Only after graduating from film school did I realize there was almost zero work in underwater cinema . . . so I ended up making commercials and I still direct TV spots for clients all over the world. About 10 years ago I began producing feature films and this is my first feature as a director.

KRISTIN: You directed Burlesque: Heart of the Glitter Tribe. Tell us about this film.

JON: This film is about the world of neo-burlesque in America – what is it and who is a part of it and what do these people care about? Why do they spend all of this time and money and tremendous energy in an artform that barely pays them gas money? We found a Glitter Tribe of burlesquers in Portland, Oregon and began following them 7 years ago to have the film that shares THEIR STORY.

KRISTIN: This film isn’t like a fictional account of the world of Burlesque. We get an inside look at performers and the work behind the shows. What drew you to the project and when directing, how did you decide which angle to take on it?

JON: Once I became exposed to this whole sub-culture of artists I was fascinated by their joy, the music, the chosen family, the theater aspect of their performances. The tremendous diversity of gender, POC and styles of burlesque seemed ripe as a world to explore and the performances are so often funny. Comedy is a big part of burlesque.

The angle was really determined by what was important to this Glitter Tribe. What was important to them? I also decided early on that I wanted this film se firmly inside the world of the new wave and that I didn’t want to try and tell the history of burlesque in America or abroad – and that is an interesting and rich history but I wanted you to be front row center and backstage in the new wave of burlesque from the first frame to the last.

KRISTIN: You got to work with some great performers. What did you learn from them along the way about their art form?

JON: I learned they take it very seriously. That it ususally amplifies an aspect of their own personality outside of burlesque and that there is a reason they would do all of this work and take all of this time and spend all of this money on costumes without pay – it’s empowering. And there is great value in creating a chosen family of like-minded artists. And that confidence overflows into their non-burlesque world.

KRISTIN: Burlesque shows are popping up in LA and New York as popular establishments. Why do you think this is now becoming a thing again?

JON: First of all – note that it is not just in places like NYC, New Orleans, Chicago and San Francisco – that’s what I thought at first – but it is also in Cincinnatti, San Antonio, St Louis and Louisville, KY. I have been told and it seems right to me – burlesque can be found in every state in America. Why? It’s fun, it’s an artform open to anyone, any size, shape, gender and you can make it your own. It’s also empowering to make fun of or have fun with sexuality, sexiness, gender roles, politics set in a safe atmosphere of acceptance. It’s sexy without being carnal.

KRISTIN: In the end, what is the goal of this film? What message do you want to send the viewers?

JON: The goal of the film is to open peoples eyes to a fascinating artform that most people have no clue about and that you actually might see yourself in the hearts and minds of these stars. I hope that it might help someone not be so judgemental of a brother or sister or friend that is a burlesque performer. And that for 76 minutes you might be a little less lonely in the world.

KRISTIN: When and where can we be on the lookout for this film?

JON: The film opened in 25 cities last week and this week the film will premiere in Portland at Living Room theaters (March 3rd) for one week and Los Angeles at The Montalban Theater in Hollywood (March 4th) also for one week.

As of March 7th the film will be available on iTunes and Amazon.

KRISTIN: Do you have other projects we should be on the lookout for?

JON: Yes – but none I can talk about yet!

KRISTIN: Where can we keep up with you and all of your work online? Twitter/Instagram/Facebook?


On Facebook,


Or on the website for the film,


Please SHARE with your friends!!!!! Thank you all so much for your enthusiasm – your love and support – go Glitter Tribe!!

Make sure to check out Burlesque: Heart of the Glitter Tribe now in a theater near you or get ready to purchase it at home on demand March 7th. Also make sure to follow Director Jon Manning on his above listed links to keep track of what he is up to next!

About Kristin Downer

Super Mom and Awesomely Nerdy Lady who can’t stand to sit still. Delving into the online world I ran a successful online radio channel and blog that brought fans up close and personal with their favourite music, television and movie stars. Now, with my hilariously nerdy partners in crime, we are hiding our nerdyness no more! Twitter: @Kristin_Downer

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