Applications for The Philadelphia Burlesque Festival 2018 are now closed.


Casts will be notified via email.


  • First of all, it’s the best party in town!
  • The chance to take the stage at one of Philly’s historical performance venues…with ample dressing room space to boot.
  • Every performer earns a guaranteed $50 stipend.
  • High-quality photos and video of your performance.
  • A thank you package from our sponsors and a token from the festival.
  • Free admission to attend any of the weekend’s events.
  • After-parties and social events curated to welcome you to our city.
  • A private complimentary send-off brunch on Sunday Morning.

Plus, we’ve got your guide to Philadelphia’s fantastic shopping, vegan-friendly eats, art museums, and beautiful parks. And we help connect out-of-town performers with local places to stay (or hotel discounts if you prefer that room service life.)


The Philadelphia Burlesque Festival is all about bringing together a show that’s unlike any other in the city!

We are highly committed to growing our sizzling burlesque scene, and consider it the highest honor to review so many incredible applicants in the search for the most exciting acts possible.  We do not take these decisions lightly and strive be fair, unbiased, and thoughtful.

Submissions are ranked by numerical rubric on the following:

  • Entertainment factor: We’re looking for acts that captive an audience from start to finish! What makes this piece funny, sexy, creative, original, innovative, dazzling, daring, etc? How well are you connecting with the audience? Are your entrances/exits powerful?
  • Technique/theatricality: Judges are looking for stage presence, confidence, and a command of your movements. We will also consider whether the way you remove or handle your costume pieces is well-executed, with exceptional skill, ingenuity, or wit.
  • Costuming: Judges will consider attention to detail with costuming, stage-makeup, hair, props, and overall personal style. Is your look ready for the big stage? Does your costume have any surprises? If you had malfunctions, how well did you recover? Note: Your act must contain some form of clothing removal.
  • Musicality: Not everyone is a trained dancer! But we’re looking for overall smoothness, coordination, and rhythm. Whatever you’re doing, are you owning it? 
  • Story arc: So, why are you taking your clothes off? Tell your story. Show us work with purpose.
  • Inspiration factor: How will this piece inspire the Philadelphia burlesque community? Show us your spark!

When selecting a cast, we also consider the overall stylistic, demographic, and geographic diversity of the show.

In total the process requires of 50+ hours of thoughtful evaluation across multiple rounds, and each video is reviewed a minimum of two times.

Click here for tips for your best application.

Performers can apply with up to three acts,  but only one act per person can be accepted per year. Application fees are $15 per act, or $10/act for Philadelphia-based performers.