Galapagos’ Floating Kabarette and Other Holiday Party-Hopping

OR: Great Bacon at a Jewelry Show, Indian Sob Stories at a Dance Show, Bluegrass at a Chinese Restaurant, and a Crooner, a Sword Swallower, and the Junior-Miss-Pussycat-Dolls on Concrete Lily Pads

Madame Rosebud

By J.D. Oxblood

Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009

Yes, it’s true, I totally and completely hate Christmas.  And Xmas.  And “The Holiday Season.”  And your mom’s eggnog and your grandma’s fruitcake.  Though I will drink the rum your mom bought for the eggnog while flirting with your grandma’s granddaughter in the kitchen—coz let’s face it, the only bitchin’ aspect of the descent of winter (and accompanying descent of commercialized hordes on sidewalks and subways)—is the party-hopping potential.  Office parties, house parties, annual parties… so long as the snacks are delish, the booze is flowin’ and the babes are randy, bring it on, and keep the scenes varietal so the flavors rotate like a lazy susan spicerack.

Jewelry by Karina Clark; photo by (TK)

I can taste it in the back of my throat as I stomp across 5th Avenue… it’s going to snow.  First stop: a launch party for Karina Clark’s line of jewelry.  I’m not on the market myself, but I know 200 strippers who might be.  And her shit is dope—dig the crazy-clunky sea glass necklace both the artist and her superfine model are rocking.  Cut into the back room and scarf on some stellar bacon atop some kind o’ cream cheese atop golden delicious apple slices.  I’m snarfing like a preggo chick and schmoozing… and wow, there’s the prosciutto, and the cab they’re pouring ain’t bad, either.  I wish the artiste luck and bounce back into the cold.


Second stop: a wacky upstairs loft in Billburg with a gi-normous studio-quality dance floor, the home of Sleepdance and Studio A.I.R., a monthly left-of-hip scene that regularly shows the work of hottie choreographers Stephanie Sleeper and Jackie Moynahan.  Always a snack and a sip in the kitchen—Sleeper makes these wicked oatmeal cookies that keep me coming back, and tonight the spread and the schedule are super-sized as it’s the anniversary affair.  Most of the crowd are artists, so it’s more commune-style than commercial—dig the crazy selection of seats in the main studio, espesh the rolled-up carpet for lounging, my fave—but I’m too early for dance.  Instead, the certified bad-ass photog, music archivist and sound designer John Gurrin is showing videos he recorded in India.  We only get a couple minutes of actual recorded musical incredible-ness, laced overmuch by the downer untouchable story, but remember this is edutainment.  Our sage-like presenter shifts to show us the long-format video he did for Metallica, then Minos Papos shows a uniquely mysterious short dance film featuring Sleeper, we move to a schmooze intermission before the dance portion—I promise to come back for late-nights if I’m not too loaded, stuff some cookies in my pocket and bounce out—

—to hear the M Shanghai String Band at M Shanghai.  It’s their penultimate performance at “the Den at M,” as May is moving her house of fantabulous dumplings around the corner.  More on that topic early next year.  But the band is an old fave of ours at CC, kick-ass down-home bluegrass, and I might have stayed longer if it weren’t so tremendously packed.  Good for the band, a little too much for my nerves—still sober.  Dr. K was waiting for me and hadn’t even managed to bully his way to the bar.  We bailed.

Olga and Bjorn

And FINALLY made the scene at the new—improved?—Galapagos space in DUMBO.  First thought: wow.  The place looks phat and sexy on the inside, lots of water, lots of red, and a big, tall, theatrically-friendly grid that spells a home for aerialists.  Second thought, wow.  Separating the audience from each other on individual lily pads is cool, but not exactly conducive to mingling, which naturally leads to the kind of shenanigans that bring people out to see live nudity to begin with.  Or maybe it’s just me.

Dr. K and I sat down next to the coolest New Yorker ever—Julia Bloch—not really sure why she’s the coolest New Yorker, but she bribed me to say that—and her disturbingly sexy entourage—and Melody showed up to snap with a hot Colombian visitor in tow, and we felt doubly blessed when the rapscallion Bastard Keith joined us for cocktails and triply when the ever-suave Brian Newman finished his set and crammed in to talk shit.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Some highlights:

Dirty Martini

Co-hosts Olga—tiny thin hotness, high-pitched monotonic voice, in a silver tutu and tube top—and Bjorn—good-natured chubby, Williamsbeard—jive off each other, seep happiness, offer to sex everyone they talk to, and hand out free cocktails—provided that you shove your hand up the ass of a fake dog.  Olga had me at “Ay yi yi!”—why does a German—or is she really a Pole?—repeatedly slip into Mexican expletives?  They’re “Kung Fu Fighting” routine is sheer ridiculosity.  And yes, sign me up for eating noodles out of Olga’s jock.  Damn.  She beat me to it.

Lady Aye does a blockhead act with a spoon.  And a Tootsie Roll Pop.  The girls on either side of me positively shiver.  Aye follows it up with a double sword-swallow.  I spend the rest of the night contemplating the term “scissoring.”  The fact that she could die performing that act is, indeed, part of what makes it so perversely—voyeuristically—enjoyable.

Jenna Rocha and Her Painted Ladies

Jenny Rocha & Her Painted Ladies do wild-haired chairwork, return to the stage for a routine of geishas and fat-suit sumos, and to the timeless tune of “Maneater” take to the lily pads to, um, eat the audience.  Straddle the unsuspecting, fork and knife fu—and going the extra distance with a dude’s arm in a hot dog bun, add the ketchup.  While not exactly burlesque, the choreography is tight, the girls are hot, and it’s fun variety-act fare.  We’ll hold our breath for some disrobing.  Meanwhile, their boxing routine quickly descends into a water fight—glistening bodies and snapping towels.  HOT.

Jan Manke, an aerialist from Berlin, working the static trap, stone cold hangs from his TEETH.  And spins at breakneck speed.  I mean—I don’t even know how to describe it to make it sound any more bad-ass.  He hangs by his fucking TEETH and spins around and around and around.  Ladies, imagine what this guy could do to your downstairs.

Julia and her gang deciding they’ve had enough to drink and pass off their leftovers to us.  What was that green stuff?

The couple sitting in the table in front of us totally make it to second base.  I think the dude is trying to steal third, but that could be the bourbon talking.

Brian Newman, on a big stage, backed by a high ceiling, next to a lovely baby grand.  Working it.  Really fitting to see this kid on a big stage.  As much as we love him in cramped downtown venues, his tall personage cuts a mad frame in this setting, and his big sound expands to fill the hall as the bell of his horn reflects the stage lighting in a glamorous corona on the bricks behind. God bless ‘em for bringing him back, again and again, spacing out the night with a heady dose of class.  When he sings, “I love all of you,” you believe him.

Lisa Natoli

Lisa Natoli, described in the program as “Aerial Beauty.”  Think the lithe, thin body of an Eastern European gymnast in a black leotard doing drapework—graceful twists and holds with the occasional slow fall—to Euro funk.  Was that Gary Numan?  Better yet, later Brian Newman and his pianist provide accompaniment as she does a slow, hypnotic climb with dramatic falls … and a sultry descent.

Madame Rosebud in a pink teddy and a Lady Gaga mask, taking off the mask LAST.  Madame Rosebud peeling off a teal dress to reveal a black gimp suit.  Madame Rosebud soundtracking herself to Shirley Bassey doing Lionel Richie’s “Hello.”  Madame Rosebud peeling that Wendy O. Williams tape OFF.

Madame Rosebud

Madame Rosebud.  Full stop.

Kiss kiss,


All photos ©2009 by Melody Mudd unless otherwise noted. Performers who would like high-rez images, please contact her at

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