MESMA S. BELSARE – Oh, Mesma. Mesma, Mesma. A few years back, Karin and I were teaching a gender workshop to a group of GLBT youth with our troupe All The Kings Men. As we entered the space and looked beyond the banister to the large open room beyond, we saw there was another workshop going on, and we were told we could just hang out in a side room and prepare until it was done. None of us moved an inch. In the center of the room was one of the most beautiful women we had ever seen- an Indian woman, speaking in a calming, distinct voice, explaining the language of a native dance, every inch of her relaxed and graceful (as only lifelong dancers can be). As she moved and spoke and engaged her listeners, we were utterly captivated. I felt completely mesmerized by this woman- it was as though when she spoke, the entire room turned still for her, made room for her quiet voice… it was maybe the most tranquil moment of my life, standing in this bare giant room, silent except for the stories she told with her voice, her hands, her feet.  Peeling myself away to get ready to talk to teenagers I didn’t know suddenly seemed wildly inappropriate, like kicking over a trashcan in a quiet church.

            We came to know this woman as Mesma- Karin and I approached her shyly afterwards and were completely awkward, as though this was our one moment to meet the Queen of England we were totally, totally blowing it. I felt about 10 years old.  But she was as gracious as could possibly be imagined- elegant while totally approachable, engaged and serene and… I don’t know… honest. She was bare and honest. Later we found out Mesma is trans (it hadn’t really occurred to us before then… though this was a GLBT conference) and pushing against enormous walls in her work as a traditional native dancer. This is someone who fights, someone who engages and enlightens on many, many levels with her work, someone who comes out and stays out over and over and over. She is perhaps one of the most entrancing and graceful people I have ever met, and we are thrilled beyond belief to bring her work to our stage, and to continue to get to know Mesma and her art. 

To see for yourself, Mesma will be performing in the upcoming Bent Wit Cabaret: Grotesque on May 9th at 8pm. For tickets, hit up


At Axe To Ice we dedicate ourselves to bringing the best acts we can find to our stage and, as such, tend to have rather a love affair with the performers we book. In order to better acquaint our audiences with the people we work with and our reasons for working with them, we offer you this handy, ongoing guide to our love. This is a partial list of acts present, future, and past that inspire us, change us, or just plain twitterpate us: First up, an act we booked the second we had the theme of Grotesque! Catch them this Sunday at 8pm!

BLACK CAT BURLESQUEWe heard about Black Cat Burlesque long before we saw them. They were a unique “must see”, we were told. They were different, edgy, smart… all the words we wish would always precede “burlesque”. It wasn’t until Karin did a show at the Coolidge to mark the anniversary of Edgar Allen Poe that we were able to see them and work alongside them. Onstage, this troupe is diverse and deliciously original- they at once embrace the melancholy and yet still deliver a piece that is celebratory. (Backstage they are kind, well-organized, and inordinately agreeable- a producer’s dream!) Their passion for what they do, and the ideas they dissect, is palpable and raw—I am convinced they are delighted to revel in ideas so seemingly removed from the bounce of burlesque- convinced that the trickle-thin line they dance between obscure and inviting totally delights them—that I cannot help but get swept in to the worlds they create. And when it’s done, I have seen something totally, totally different.

For all the fluff that burlesque can get away with, we are exceedingly happy that this clever (and ferocious) troupe asserts from the beginning what is sexy to them and makes us agree before we can think twice about it.