Conscious Party: ABSFest Speakeasy Allstars

BASKET BALL: Arial Vanator and fellow ABSFest performers conduct a festive basket raffle for the ACLU at The Orange Peel in May. The burlesque and sideshow festival's Speakeasy Allstars return to the venue on Aug. 19 for a performance that includes another raffle to benefit the nonprofit. Photo by Isaac Harrell

WHAT: A burlesque and circus arts show with raffle to benefit the ACLU

WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 19, 8 p.m.

WHERE: The Orange Peel, 101 Biltmore Ave.

WHY: Between silk aerials, acrobats and burlesque acts, Madame Onça O’Leary’s Asheville shows feature a raffle within the event for baskets of items donated by local businesses and the performers themselves. Past nonprofit beneficiaries have typically been groups focusing on women’s rights (Our VOICE) or helping disenfranchised populations (Western North Carolina AIDS Project), but for May’s ABSFest, O’Leary chose the American Civil Liberties Union.

“With the tone of the radical changes that are trying to sweep the country right now, we felt like it was time to open our lens to something that was really more about addressing the whole system rather than a specific part of the problems facing this country,” she says.

“And of course North Carolina has a terrible reputation across the country right now for being a hotbed of injustice, and I really wanted to make sure that we were using out platform to address that. Our event is committed specifically to empowerment, to letting people have a good time while engaging in activism.”

The ACLU will again receive proceeds from the raffle during the ABSFest Speakeasy Allstars’ Saturday night show. While enjoying the talents of the likes of eight-piece Virginia mountain swing band The Judy Chops, Dance Club Asheville burlesque starlet Boo Velvet, Charlotte acrobatic aerial bellydance duo Satarah and Madame Onça herself, raffle tickets will go for, in O’Leary’s words, “$2 each, 3 for $5, 10 for $10 or $20 for the length of a leg.”

ABSFest Speakeasy Allstars will perform at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 19, at The Orange Peel. Tickets are $20 general admission, $35 VIP seated (includes gift bag and photo with performers) and may be purchased at the door and online at


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About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) and North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA). Follow me @EdwinArnaudin

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