From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
|Photographer. Performer. Provocateur.|
|Real Name:||Teresa Ines Belasco|
|Known Aliases:||Tessa Burlesque, Lady B., Tessa B.|
|Age:||Late forties, Early fifties.|
|Occupation:||Model, Performer, Photographer, Celebrity.|
|Place of Birth:||Albany, NY.|
|Base of Operations:||Faultline, Paragon City, RI|
|Marital Status:||In a Relationship|
|Known Relatives:||Georgia McKay-Belasco (sister), Giorgio Elliot Belasco (brother), Seneca Adeline Belasco (niece)|
|Empathic Manipulation and Minor Psychic Intuition(Inert)|
|Drop-Dead Gorgeous, Sartorial Mastery, Cheesecake Maven, Professional Modeling and Photography skills.|
|High-End professional digital camera, business cards, saucy clothes, Blackberry, VIP pass to most anywhere.|
|NCAA Basketball All Star for the Paragon Lady Protagonists 1987.|
Lady Burlesque is the registered codename for an Italian-American Retired Hero who conforms to the "blaster" archetype. Lady Burlesque is not at this time explicitly active as a hero or any other kind of costumed, powered adventurer. She is currently self-employed as a performance artist, photographer, and model. While she was reasonably visible during heroic career (spanning from the late 1980s through the first Rikti Invasion), most of her present celebrity and acclaim is drawn from her current vocation. As such, her civilian identity (as Tessa Burlesque) is well known to American society.
History in Brief
Teresa Belasco's early life was, by many standards, blessed with a number of captured opportunities and well-earned achievements. Tessa, as she liked to be known, graduated from high school as an All-America Athlete and obtained a four year scholarship to Paragon University for her exceptional performance in Basketball. She excelled with the Paragon Lady Protagonists, bringing the team a Division I championship in the mid-eighties. Tessa's academic skills were respectable, but she had difficulty in settling on a major. She eventually pursued a program in Chemistry, but her studies and athletic career was stymied by the events which lead her to adopting a heroic persona.
Origin and Heroism
As typical for her field of study, Tessa was required to spend long hours as a laboratory assistant in the Paragon University Science department. Despite her interest in the subject, Tessa dreaded her lab hours as her supervisor was obviously, unhealthily obsessed with the young athlete. She managed to dodge his subtler insinuations and frankly, explicitly dismissed his more obvious overtures. Tessa petitioned her advisor to have her assignments transferred, but the process became mired in red tape for several weeks.
Unknown to Tessa at the time was the fact that her supervisor was a dupe for the infamous Dr. Egon, who was using the facilities of Paragon University as a decentralized refining facility for prototypes of Superdine-derivatives. Her supervisor had been contaminated with a compound which increased his intelligence while having the side-effect of drastically accelerating his libido. Fixated on Tessa, her supervisor devised a completely ludicrous plan to engineer a "love potion" he could use to ply the young co-ed into succumbing to his desire. The senior chemist, using his enhanced intellect, synthesized the serum with ease, tailoring it to Tessa's genome to prevent anyone else from using it effectively. During one of Tessa's many graveyard shifts in the lab, the chemist attacked and subdued the student, and applied the serum.
The result was not exactly favorable as the chemist was later found in his apartment, dead from ecstatic heart failure. His autopsy further revealed the presence of Egon's drugs in his system, which ignited a firestorm of activity that eventually let to Egon's trial and execution. For Tessa, life would never be the same. Panicked, Tessa fled into the underground for several months struggling to control the hedonistic abilities she now had at her beck and call. She was rescued by a group of outsider heroes investigating an curious cult of personality surrounding Tessa. After some work, they managed to convinced her to face the consequences of the chemist's death. Once cleared of wrongdoing in the accident which gave her the empathic and pseudo-psychic abilities she attained, Tessa took on the persona of Lady Burlesque, and pursued a storied career as a costumed crime fighter in Paragon City and beyond during the 1980s and 1990s.
Rikti War and Retirement
The Rikti Invasion and war shattered Lady Burlesque's career as it prematurely ended the career of so many other heroes and superpowered individuals. Tessa's abilities had already taken their toll on her body and psyche for years before the Rikti first step foot on Earth, and she was quickly tiring of the life of a hero. However, when the portals opened and innocent lives were on the line, Lady Burlesque set her doubts aside. The destruction, as the histories show, was previously unimaginable. As an empath, Tessa was devastated by the carnage and despair, leaving her significantly weakened by the first day of the assault. However, as the citizens of the Earth rallied, Lady Burlesque took strength from their faith and found a spot among the respected members of Alpha Team when the final assault was planned.
The assault, as is well known, was horrific in its costs. Tessa was quickly incapacitated within the first minutes of the battle and evacuated while those who could teleport her had yet to be defeated. She would not learn of Earth's phyrric victory until weeks later when she emerged from her coma. She was released within a few days, but by that time she had concluded that the life of a costumed hero was simply no longer something she could live up to. Lady Burlesque contacted the decimated HeroCorps and filed an indefinite leave of absence.
Post-Hero Career and Celebrity
Despite having never been an A-List hero, Lady Burlesque had enjoyed a fair amount of cult popularity among the underground and outsider communities she enjoyed frequenting. Her empathic abilities, salacious banter, progressive feminist ideals, and frank opinions on sexuality contributed to building an image of Lady Burlesque as a sex symbol for the counter-culture even during her crime-fighting career. After the furvor from her retirement died down, Lady Burlesque emerged from outsider subcultures as a photographer and performance artist specializing in her namesake's anachronistic, light-hearted, and provocative artform. The new Burlesque movement quickly adopted her as a rejuvenated star ready to take on new challenges and champion an art movement long maligned and discounted by mainstream society.
At this time, Lady Burlesque has arguably become the patron Hero of the New Burlesque movement, with mainstream reporting setting her among the most visible icons of this subculture: Dita Von Teese, Catherine D'lish, Immodesty Blaize, Michelle L'amour, and others. She is occasionally seen in celebrity gossip magazines, and has been photographed by some of the most prominent and acclaimed fashion, fetish, and glamour photographers presently working in the field. She has also been a guest editor on SuicideGirls.com, CatgirlsUnleaded.com, and maintains her own website, LadyofBurlesque.com.
Tessa Burlesque was considered for the role of Persephone in The Matrix Reloaded & The Matrix Revolutions, but lost out to Monica Bellucci due to better scheduling availability. She was given a cameo part in Revolutions as part of Persephone's retinue. Tessa noted in her online blog that actress Carrie-Anne Moss was the one of the only person she had met who wore PVC better than Tessa herself could.
Historically, Lady Burlesque has been connected with several hero groups, the vast majority of which have been disbanded, destroyed, or otherwise fallen into obscurity. She founded The Burlesque Battalion as a potential group of saavy and seductive heroes and heroines, but this group did not last more than two years before disbanding into other projects.. As mentioned above, she was a member of Team Alpha, although she does not like to acknowledge this fact.
Lady Burlesque retains a very small connection to Arachnos due to a brief stay in the Isles (see Footnotes). She also has tenuous connections to the Knives of Artemis, having been honorarily initiated into that sorority as the result of some unusual adventures.
Lady Burlesque is also the roommate of burgeoning contemporary hero Cryopulse, although both parties have attempted to keep this knowledge private. Contrary to speculation, they are not romantically involved with each other. Tessa's romantic interests and pursuits are frequently discussed on her website's forum.
Tessa also helps to sponsor and promote a roller-derby team, the Faultline Furies, although she does not compete with the team. The team shares several members with her Burlesque Battalion. They sustain a simmering rivalry with the down-and-dirty derbydolls of the Brickstown Bombshells.
The Siren Serum
Lady Burlesque's abilities are drawn from the effects of the serum she was given by her crazed professor, a concoction dubbed "The Siren Serum" in his feverish notes. Although his scientific notes were patchwork and erratic due to the wild psychological derangement that the professor was suffering from, it appears that the Siren Serum was some kind of amalgam between recombinant DNA therapy, aggressive retroviral infection, and a number of pseudo-scientific and quasi-alchemical techniques. The Serum was also highly specialized to ideally interact with Tessa's biochemistry and individual genome.
Physical Effects of the Serum
Despite the oblique composition of the serum, the effects are well documented. The serum altered Tessa's body in subtle but intrinsic ways. She possesses a nearly-ideal, preternatural physical beauty. As the decades have progressed, Tessa's natural aging has proven to be either significantly retarded or completely eliminated. Her metabolism was altered to be significantly more efficient than a normal human's: allowing her nutritional needs to be more easily satisfied and permitting greater gains from even minimally-strenuous exercise.
Empathic/Psychic Effects of the Serum
The physical benefits of the serum were pale in comparison to the intangible effects of the Siren Serum. Lady Burlesque exudes an aura of adoration, sensual attraction, and an indefinable allure to those around her. This appears to be at the subsconcious, semi-empathic level - Tessa does not exude unusual pheromones or overt psychic manipulation. As time went on and Tessa learned more about her abilities, she discovered that her empathic abilities could be focused and manipulated to control the feelings and actions of other people.
These abilities could be turned to devastating effect on any sentient individual (as well as sub-sapient creatures), causing intense emotional and mental discomfort as Lady Burlesque pushed the force of her emotions and discontent toward her opponents. This could, for example: cause intense remorse and despair on an individual (causing their aggression to implode into a incapacitating depression), ensnare an individual with overwhelming, paralyzing desire for Tessa (defusing their violent actions), trap a target in suppressed emotions and memories, or crumble a criminal's self-esteem with a focused blast of Tessa's disdain and acidic disapproval. Wielding such a barrage of emotional and empathic power, Lady Burlesque was often able to disable criminals and violent maurauders without having to place her manicure at risk.
The Siren Effect
These abilities were not without their drawbacks. Becoming a figurative goddess in the minds and eyes of her opponents and acquintances was a mixed blessing. Few heroes have ever had as many obsessed stalkers, overzealous fans, and moonstruck suitors as Lady Burlesque. The constant flood of those who desire to inculcate themselves into Tessa's life is a fatiguing, neverending drain on her patience. Worse still are the rare individuals who actually came to enjoy and solicit Tessa's degradation abilities, who twisted the negative and painful effects of her powers into a masochistic desire for sensual punishment.
Lady Burlesque has, over the years, discovered many turnabouts in her abilities. Despite her abilities, Tessa is quite susceptible to empathic distortions and psychic manipulation. Sister Psyche, who was never particularly on good terms with Lady Burlesque, noted that Tessa can never actually suppress her own abilities. Lady Burlesque has an "open door" on her emotions and empathy  - which means that she can usually easily access her abilities, but she does not have the means to block out concentrated psychic or empathic intrusions or transmissions.
The Siren Serum has also developed a darker need in Lady Burlesque for constant attention and approval from those around her. Perhaps seated in some tragic neurosis buried in Tessa's subconscious, the Siren Effect also tends strength from positive emotions and attention placed on Tessa. Essentially, the more that people like and approve of her, the more powerful she becomes. The inverse is unfortunately true: the more disdain and indifference which surrounds Tessa, the more weakened, depressed, and desperate for approval she becomes. Her cadre of Rogues has used this weakness against her many times, often crippling Lady Burlesque with the force of their hatred and contempt. The villain Requiem very nearly killed Lady Burlesque simply due to the overwhelming malefic aura surrounding him, although this was not the worst she had ever suffered for this weakness.
The final aspect of the Siren Effect is the fact that the serum does not provide permanent alteration of Tessa's system. After more than twenty years, her powers have worn off to the most minimal levels (providing some diminished empathy and her baseline allure) while retaining many of the drawbacks and side effects. A renewed application of the Serum would likely rejuvenate Tessa's abilities, but she has refused to do so, despite having cracked the Serum's formula only a few years ago.
Tessa Burlesque often joins in pickup games in the Basketball Courts in the northeast corner of Skyway City. Most of the regulars know her fairly well, but she does occasionally surprise a newcomer to the neighborhood. She tries to keep touring heroes from interrupting the games, although they do frequent the courts with puzzling regularity.
Lady Burlesque is an unlockable player in EA Sports' College Hoops: Slam Sisters, as part of the 80s All-Star Team. A cheat code is available on the internet which accesses a simulation of her powers (an unblockable drive and jump shot), while a bit of dummy code can be accessed to swap Tessa's Paragon University uniform for her provocative hero costume.
Mostly, this was supposed to be an off-screen NPC for my other character, Cryopulse. However, I decided to build a version of the character for RP scenes. She is presently not very active (and very recently re-rolled for i12), but could be interesting in the future. I placed her on a full VV page (and not a subpage) as to keep the category lists free of subpage spam, since she's in a lot of categories.
- ↑ For Dr. Egon, the result was too close to zero-sum: What use were people with IQs of 300 if they thought about sex 24/7?
- ↑ Despite public outcry, many Capes who managed to survive the Rikti War either publicly retired or vanished into obscurity due to a number of personal problems (post-traumatic stress disorder being only one possibility). Many citizens and media commentators were less-than-sympathetic to their plight when faced with escalating chaos and crime in their absence.
- ↑ Those within the subculture debate the importance of Tessa Burlesque's contributions to New Burlesque
- ↑ With the exception of SG, these are not real websites. Don't go searching.
- ↑ Tessa has retained legal rights to the group name, and uses it for her street marketing and promotions team
- ↑ Even the site of the injection was carefully chosen, being at the sacral chakra, Swadhisthana
- ↑ At least one of these individuals, a fellow psychic and master social manipulator named Randolph Zehr, actually succeeded in corrupting Lady Burlesque into becoming a villain for a short period of time in the early nineties.
- ↑ Acridly, Sister Psyche also commented there were other aspects of Lady Burlesque's personality which were also door-like. Well, door-knob-like.
- ↑ Malaise once managed to draw Lady Burlesque into a showdown in suburban Tehran. The monumental force of the fundamentalist Muslim conservative paradigm crushed Tessa into an unresponsive coma for three months.
- ↑ Signaled by a wolf-whistle, of course