Tito Bonito – Journey to BhoF
I have always been a sore loser. Let’s just get that out of the way. For that very reason, when it comes to my performances, I prefer to showcase rather than compete simply because placing greater value on one piece of art over another softens the whole experience for me. But this is the Burlesque Hall of Fame. It is our community’s “Oscars” and it is truly an honor for me to have been given a spot on that stage this year. It’s more than enough to be able to show yourself off to the best of the best in burlesque around the world. Especially in front of so many legends! I left it up to the selection committee this year to decide whether my application would be accepted to showcase or compete, if at all.
This is my third year applying to the festival but my second time attending. Last year, I was fortunate enough to have a totally positive experience my first time at BHOF. There was no pressure of performing so I was able to just enjoy myself, network, and be there to support my mentor/best friend, Burlesque Top 3 Industry Figure, Jeez Loueez, as she competed for Miss Exotic World. This year, I will be competing for Mr. Exotic World and to have her by my side will mean the world to me. “Win” or “lose”.
My boy scout act, “Scout’s Honor,” was chosen to compete and over the years it has become an audience favorite. The idea initially came from Mr. Exotic World 2009, Hot Toddy, who had envisioned me as a boy scout in an piece where I was constantly trying to “pitch a tent.” After a few different incarnations, the Nicki Minaj / Sir Mix-A-Lot / Assels version of the routine became the official one fusing my comedy and sexuality seamlessly. I didn’t necessarily feel that confident about this particular piece until I started doing it at Donna Hood’s “Tease If You Please” in LA. It consistently receives a standing ovation and especially after, LA bestie and Miss Exotic World 2017 hopeful, Jessabelle Thunder told me to submit it, I listened. She’s usually right.
I am preparing for this year’s Weekend by reminding myself of the whole reason why it exists; to support the Burlesque Hall of Fame Museum and preserving the history of burlesque. This resurgence has helped me live an honest and fulfilled life in the city of my dreams and I am willing to do anything I can to keep it going. The challenges ahead for my performance on June 3 are mostly my costuming (which is notoriously underwhelming) and making sure I fill up that stage. I’ve also recently gained a bit of weight (weighing in at 195 pounds) and getting back into shape to do this act properly is essential to my overall happiness with this journey. So, I will definitely be taking advantage of this opportunity to showcase the absolute best version of this routine as I love to entertain. I love to make people laugh and I believe that “Scout’s Honor” perfectly embodies both.