By J. D. Oxblood
I may have previously indicated my distaste for the holiday season, but one factor that always piques my interest—and is especially true in the City to End All Cities—is the holiday party quotient. They come in all shapes and sizes: the office holiday party where people who see each other every day are suddenly thrust into an alcohol-laden free-for-all. People who hate each other grope in the copy room or do it standing up in the executive washroom and everyone spends the rest of the year wondering if their husbands/wives will find out about it. Fortunately, New Year’s clears the plate and no one remembers come the post-holiday return to work. Then there’s the annual holiday party thrown by groups of friends who never see each other except for the annual holiday party, providing ample opportunity for former lovers to eye each other suggestively across not-crowded-enough rooms and uncomfortably make small talk with each other’s current beaux. Then you have the large, fantastic house parties thrown by people who just love to throw parties and don’t see a demonstrable difference between Cinco de Mayo and Christmas: cue the cocaine, the tequila, and hooking up with random people because, hey, the more the merrier, and these are the parties where you meet people you’ve never seen in your life and will never see again. And then there’s the truly weird, spontaneous “OMG it’s Christmas!” parties that you never see coming and never completely recover from. (Please don’t ask how I ended up dancing at 7 a.m. last Boxing Day, whacked on E, with grown men stuffing cash into my pants.)
This year … not so much.
I don’t know if you’ve read the paper lately (do they still make papers?) but everyone is broke, and I haven’t even stumbled across any large-scale, tragically boring (but open bar) parties usually thrown by big corporations, let alone any swanky, intimate soirees by anyone I actually know. Which is why I was so excited last Friday when a friend invited me to go meet a friend whose friend was hanging out at a friend’s holiday party. Thank Dionysus for friends. And you never saw so many people over 30—and so few Gossip Girl extras—in the meatpacking district. The entire top floor of a building just spitting distance from the Gansevoort was a raging, madcap, grown-up party, with free drinks, an impressive spread (try the ham) and a smoking section at the end of the room where the building gets all Flat Iron-y. Don’t mind the guy doing bumps in the coatcheck room. We got our dance on until the DJ inconceivably killed the dance floor, and the entire place emptied out inside of 20 minutes. Maybe these people really were grownups—had to get home to the babysitter. But things got weirder when we tried to find a place to hit last call—no one would let us in and it was barely 3. Is the meatpacking district always this lame? The girls flirted up a doorman and we walked into a glitzy bar that was deader than disco, but I stumbled downstairs and right into the most slamming party of the season—dark, a packed house, raging hip hip beats, and I didn’t see any other white people. Yes! I grabbed my crew and we made the scene and tried to get some drinks. That’s when the tall, obnoxious Eastern-European bouncer threw us out. And THAT’s when I realized we were the only people in the room who weren’t young black men on the DL. That tall Slavic asshole threw us out like we were about to out HIM. Thug life, baby. Anyone who can get me the low-down on THAT subculture I will gladly pay for the scoop.
Just wanted y’all to understand how burnt I was walking into the Holiday Edition of Angie Pontani’s “This is Burlesque” at Corio. The show starts at 7:30, and after the DL Thugly party and the ensuring after-hours events, it’s hard to fathom how I ever got sufficiently suited up to make Angie’s scene, let alone pick up hot-ass dates for me and my editor, in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, the host wouldn’t call us a couple of fags again. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Miss Astrid, dashing in a white dress, a Russian fur hat, black gloves, jackboots and chicken-wire hose, led the girls in a “cheery opening number,” and my first relevation was: Helen in a black wig! For those who may not have the history down, Helen Pontani was always a brunette… until she cut her locks off and went all blonde, breaking my heart into a million little pieces. But when Helen and Peekaboo Pointe came out decked like Santa’s little (tee hee!) helpers, and I saw Helen back in black … I ordered another. But that also might have something to do with the fact that Astrid was playing “What the fuck are you drinking?” which consisted of making the rounds of the audience and mooching free sips from damn near everyone, guaranteeing a buzz for the evening and a delirious hangover come morning. “Don’t worry,” she assured us, “I only have herpes downstairs.”
Now remember, these girls do four shows a week, so you can’t be bummed about repeat acts. I personally love them, as the second time around it’s easier to actually watch and not be so hypnotized by the spectacle. Angie reprised her bang-the-drum act, in a dress and gloves with leopard trim and—yes—a leopard skin corset. Dig the way she licks her tongue to her teeth. That’s specificity, baby, and white-hot at that. (When I get tired of watching Angie bang a drum, I’ll let you know.) And Peekaboo’s reprise of her white half-shirt act (dig my previous coverage) proves that she’s spent a lot of time in the mirror practicing that action. Delish.
Helen tapped to Satchmo in a white tail coat, a tiny top hat, and a jumbo-sized candy cane, with shorts striped in gold and red. So many “candy cane” sexual double entendres flooded my brain I almost had a seizure. (I won’t go there, because I respect Helen as a woman, but I am thinking of a particular James Brown song and his shout-out to Maceo Parker.) If you’ve never seen Helen drop to the splits, you haven’t lived.
Peekaboo, the “slut of the family,” as Astrid so kindly put it, did a dazzling do in a poofy white dress with red polka dots, white kid gloves and—yes! Is it my birthday?—a brunette wig. I’ll have to look up that 60’s girl group Christmas song but, meanwhile, check out Peekaboo doing the can can. And I know Weirdee Girl is hot, and so is this dazzling cocktail waitress, but it’s fucking hard to see through them. Yes, we’re way in the back and Peekaboo keeps disappearing behind… other cute girls. Am I complaining? Am I drunk? Peekaboo strips down to glitter fringe and tassels and does her signature back bend twirl. You can spot the virgins in the audience a mile away: they’re not howling, and they’ve stopped stuffing their faces for a moment, fork poised, mouth agape.
Special guest tonight… (“Please let it be Trixie and the Monkey, please let it be Trixie and the Monkey, no whammies, no whammies!”) Little Brooklyn! Ok, you can’t cry about that, but seriously, when are T&M moving to NYC? L-Brooklyn put the kink back in clowning—red nose, classic white-with-black-pom-poms Pierrot hat, a checked skirt with striped hose, working it out to “Minnie the Moocher.” She played it stumble drunk, stripping down to black and white polka dotted bra and panties, and finally revealing swirled black and white pasties. She slayed ‘em in the finish… as the song wound down and recorded applause rang out, she finally decided to take off her gloves, drawing applause out of the live audience and milking it for everything it was worth. That’s showmanship.
The Pontani’s did their chair act. I think I can stand to see it a couple hundred more times—fucking classic, from Angie smoking to Helen slugging Jack Daniels, to their decision to do it—in sheer holiday spirit—to a cover of the theme from “The Godfather” featuring a sleazy saxophone. Oh, and in red skirts and white gogo boots. One of the ladies accompanying us had just been asking me, “What’s so hot about gogo boots?” Um… I dunno… what’s hot about anything that makes me think of sex, or anything that makes a woman’s body look more alluring, even, than she might be naked. Gogo boots are just hot, empirically, whether you’re more Nancy Sinatra “These Boots were Made for Walking” or Velvet Underground’s “Venus in Furs.” Anyhoo, Astrid kept bad-mouthing the Italians, and all I can say is that the Pontani’s are the hottest thing since sliced prosciutto.
Astrid did a Santa routine, putting girls from the audience on her lap and asking them what they wanted for Christmas, which seemed to titillate Astrid more than anyone. Maybe that’s because none of the girls asked for a spanking. It was a stiff crowd—and not in the good way. Here’s the trouble with live performance, ladies and gents—you are half the show, especially when it comes to audience participation. We ordered more drinks.
Angie busted a glamorous holiday surprise in a diaphanous white gown, which she skillfully used as a gossamer scrim. Lit from behind, she spread the garment out wide, her flawless body visible in silhouette, striking poses, giving us the side view, flashing that perfect smile, the act ending in the final reveal—with a snow machine blasting her naked body. Hot, cool, and classy. I think Bing Crosby would have approved.
Thank Eros for hot girls, thank J.T. for bringing sexy back, and thank Maker’s for stiff drinks. My hangover forgotten, my buzz back in force, by intermission I knew I would never be able to read my own notes and decided I didn’t give a shit. It was a holiday party, after all, and Angie was passing out free shots and I wanted to make out with someone in the copy room. Where is the copy room in this joint? I chatted up a couple of squares while standing in line for the bathroom and the girl asked me the same fucking question I get everywhere: “What does J.D. stand for?” I gave her the dead eye and said, “Jingle Dick.” She didn’t think it was funny, but, oddly, her boyfriend did. Nothing like a holiday burlesque party for being inappropriate.
Astrid sings “Blue Christmas,” sounding a lot like Madeline Khan, and the Pontanis do an act with tambourines, leotards, and donkey ears. The bestiality theme continued as Little Brooklyn performed in a reindeer costume. I started to get a little confused about my sexuality, and wondered who the hottest Christmas character really is, and who might be coming next. The Channukah Armadillo? Mr. Heatmiser? A trio of nutcrackers? (Please let it be nutcrackers, no whammies, no whammies…) Or Frosty the Snowman?—does that bitch take it in the ass? Wow, isn’t this a family show? What’s wrong with me? How many manhattans have I had?
Helen reprised her hot all-in-black tap act, the crowd—finally drunk—bellowing heartily as she busted the Charleston, and though she was back in blonde I decided, with a face like that—launch a thousand ships, no doubt—it just doesn’t matter. Dye it puce, you’re still gorgeous. I was actually starting to feel a little guilty about my inability to take my eyes off of Helen when my editor leaned over and admitted that, for him, it would always be Peekaboo. It was a eureka moment. Why are the Pontanis so World Famous-y incredible? Because there’s something for everybody. No matter how girl-crazy you might be, you’re bound to pick one as your favorite, just like watching Charlie’s Angels as a kid. (For me, it will always be Jaclyn Smith. For you youngsters … just pretend I said Lucy Liu.) They are each as unique as the three elves, Snap, Crackle and Pop. Is it Angie’s gravity-defying tits, fly-rite tattoos and shameless exhibitionist glee? Peekaboo’s curvaceous body art, infections smile and dizzying tassel-twirling? Or Helen’s classically beautiful face, timeless grace, and furious tapping?
For the finale, we got Peekaboo in a silver, glistening nightie, Helen as a gingerbread girl, and Angie—it’s just so perfect—as an angel. It was so beautiful, I cried. No, wait, I was crying because our bill came. THAT’s why we’re all so fucking drunk. Next year, I’m bringing my own snow.
As always, I can’t thank Angie enough for the tickets. And, as always, I can’t thank Helen enough for existing. You’re all I want for Christmas.