Bozeman’s Burlesque Takeover

Kathleen Johns  |   Monday May. 1st, 2023

The dramatically lit keyhole on stage peeks out amidst flowing velvet drapes, giving off an air of mystery, of excitement. Elegant cocktail tables dot the room as neatly attired servers table hop, taking food and drink orders, filling water glasses, and making certain guests are comfortable. The moment arrives, the house lights dim and the alluring voice of the show’s emcee, Jupiter Everhard, comes through the sound system. Laughter, whistles, catcalls and other expressions of appreciation from the audience echo as, one by one, the performers take the stage to tease, shimmy, delight and dazzle. Time and place transcendent, this cabaret could exist in any decade in any major city. Welcome to Jupiter’s Lounge, Bozeman’s only 21+ burlesque venue.

Jupiter Everhard, producer, creative director, burlesque artist, amongst other titles (“I do it all”), has been a performer all his life. He recalls his earliest childhood memories being interwoven with aspects of burlesque, and proudly remembers the myriad of local theatrical and musical productions he’s been a part of since he was a preschooler. “I grew up in a small town with not a lot of artistic opportunity, but dance and theatre were the performance outlets I was able to jump into. When I was five or six, I saw the circus for the first time. That was the click. I knew I had to do that; aerial acrobatics mesmerized me the most,” he recalls. “At 14, I moved to Bozeman and did several major high school theatre productions. At 19, I got into aerial arts, and for the last 12 years that has been my life. My main edge in shows I produced and performed in has been combining burlesque with aerial. Part of the goal at Jupiter’s Lounge is to show people through our unique performances all the different artistries and varieties of talents that burlesque is made of.”   

Not only does burlesque variety include aerial, dance, singing, comedy, and more, it also includes audience participation. “It feels like people are craving live performance art and have been for a while here, especially the kind of performance art where the crowd can get a little more rambunctious and be a part of the show,” says Everhard. “Burlesque is a special art form in that it casts a broad net, attracting a wide range of people, which is one of the things I find most beautiful about it. The biggest energetic exchange for me is when the audience is giving the performers this love and adoration that energizes us and helps us feel more confident about what we are laying out there on the stage. In return, what we give back to the audience is permission to tune in to their own sensuality and sexiness. The whole point is to inspire people to go home after the show, put on sexy lingerie and move their bodies to sexy music, to love themselves, because we all deserve to feel that. Taboos in society can squash that. It’s liberating to move and feel sexy in your skin. Stripping is empowering, sexy, glamorous, comedic, erotic, and thought provoking.”

By definition, burlesque is an absurd or comically exaggerated imitation of something, especially in a literary or dramatic work, a parody. Knowing this, it’s important to remember that, above all, burlesque is fun — it’s okay to make fun of your self, too. “People walk away from a show and can take the inspiration they got and channel it into their life in a way that hopefully makes it better,” says Everhard. When asked if Bozeman audiences differ from audiences in other venues he has performed in, such as Fred Wildlife Refuge and Triple Door in Seattle or The House of Blues in New Orleans, Everhard says, “A lot of people here are not used to burlesque; for many, it is their first time. We recognize that Bozeman is also super diverse, with people from bigger cities. I really appreciate that we have that diversity. The support is astounding in this community. That community aspect is what makes Bozeman crowds so special.” As for what inspires Everhard to grow as a performer, producer and creative director, he gathers inspiration from everyone. “I take tips and guidance from each performer I see that inspires me and has that special ‘it factor’ on stage. So many people have been muses to me. I try to pull my creativity from a lot of different sources and styles so that audiences never quite know what to expect from me.”

Vera Visceral fell in love with burlesque in 2003. Studying dance by age 11, Visceral recalls, “I did jazz dance and then modern and contemporary as I got older. I heard about burlesque and how it was having a comeback; it felt adjacent to what I was already doing but with a lot more glamour and fun,” she laughs. “I started working with other performers, putting on shows at venues like South Paw, Don’t Tell Mama, The Haunt, all in New York. I got a lot of exposure, thanks to many cool people who were interested in reviving burlesque. It was fun, so I continued to do it. My character has evolved; now, I am a more comedic performer. I love creating costumes and concepts, coming up with choreography, gags and jokes for a new number, a song to sing, choosing the props and rigging. I enjoy performing the number live, feeling the response of the audience in real time, the comedy and the silliness and mixing that up with the sexy. It is so fun — I never take myself seriously when I’m doing it. Comedian Carol Burnett was one of the inspirations I looked to in developing my character. I absolutely adore her comedy work. I love finding weird, wacky, unexpected things to bring onstage to surprise the audience with. Burlesque can be whatever you want it to be: comedic, funny, sexy, seductive, or serious. There are a lot of things you get to express in three to five minutes onstage.”

Fair Elise, also a regular Jupiter’s Lounge performer, caught the dancing bug by the age of 10, due to the influence of a sibling. “I originally wanted to start dancing because my older sister was dancing; I wanted to be just like her. I started classes and my parents took me out — they said all I wanted to do was stare in the mirror during class,” she laughs. In high school, Elise realized that dance was what she wanted to pursue and, eventually, if possible, make a career of it. She earned a BFA in dance performance from Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts. Having never performed burlesque before, one of her professors suggested she audition for an open spot in a local Seattle area troupe. She did, and found that burlesque was a fit. “Classic burlesque is the art of the striptease,” she explains. “Neo-classical burlesque, or more widely, cabaret, can be anything from song to dance to theatre to striptease, finding ways to make it fun or to make a statement and say something through the piece, draw the audience in, make them feel like they are participating in something exciting and special. The shows at Jupiter’s Lounge have an act for everybody. Not every audience member is going to connect with my act, but they may connect with Vera Visceral’s absurd, hilarious comedy, or they might connect with Jupiter Everhard’s sensuality. I hope this group gets to work together continuously into the future because I enjoy each one of them so much. We are hoping to make this a long lasting staple in Bozeman so people can come to a cabaret club to enjoy a drink and a show every weekend. We are hoping to continue to get enough people to support this vision and to show that Bozeman is thirsty for cabaret and for burlesque and for a venue like this.”

Fair Elise’s hopes for a permanent Bozeman stage are shared amongst the troupe, including lounge owner Sam Williams. “Finding a home for Jupiter’s Lounge is the next goal. The land that the building currently sits on has been sold. By March of 2024 we will need to find a new stage,” Williams states. In speaking of why he chose to open a cabaret venue as a business, Williams, a senior in MSU’s Civil Engineering program, says, “After two incredibly successful burlesque shows in 2022 at the Emerson Center (Anthology and Laboratory), I realized there was a market for burlesque here. I decided that if I was going to stay in Bozeman after I graduated, I needed to do something about the local lack of entertainment and try to help build a vital night-life scene. This was the impetus for creating Jupiter’s Lounge. As a civil engineering student, I am trained to identify the problem and work out a plan, which I have done by partnering with Jupiter Everhard and trusting his artistic vision, Sadie Barac, owner of Starlite Bozeman for the use of the space, 406 Mobile Bar to give the lounge a dinner theatre element, and all the performers and employees behind the scenes who bring their talent. Now, on to the goal of finding a long-term venue. Burlesque’s versatility connects to the kind of audience that can support this endeavor, and I believe that audience is here in Bozeman.” 

To catch an upcoming show at Jupiter’s Lounge, please go online and visit   

About the Author(s)

Kathleen Johns

Kathleen Johns is the owner/founder of Mantra located in Bozeman, MT. Kathleen holds a degree in English Literature from MSU/Bozeman and is an avid high altitude gardener. You can connect with Kathleen through her website at

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