New York Burlesque Festival Friday Premiere Party

Friday, October 1, 2010; The Bell House, Gowanus, Brooklyn

There’s an old saying that goes something like, “If everyone walked into a room and everyone put all their problems on the table, and you could choose someone else’s, you’d pick yours back up and walk out of the room.”  I don’t know if it’s completely true—I remember wishing I had Owen Wilson’s problems back when he tried to off himself—but it does sum up the singular glee that I find in Scotty the Blue Bunny.  I know that as much as I’m a freak, a perv, and an outspoken/misspoken miscreant, that kid is WORSE.  Just knowing he’s out there makes me feel more square, and, well, safe.  And he reminds me that I still have room to grow.  Cue evil grin.

Here we are, back at the Bell House, perched on the edge of the apocalypse, with Scotty leading the charge to the end of the line.  First things first:  NO INTERMISSION.  Which means you’ll be standing still for four fucking hours, so don’t wear heels, don’t crave hydration or urination.  I can only wonder how the house or the liquor sponsors make any money with no intermission, but what the fuck do I know.

What I DO know is that Minnie Tonka opened up with what must be my favorite number by her EVER, and that’s saying a lot since I’ve seen her at “Revealed.”  She gets my pick for spacegirl of the weekend, freaky-deakied out in hot pink purple Jetson’s wear and 80s flat shades, wiggling to “Planet Claire,” wherein the B-52s ripped off the theme to Peter Gunn.  Minnie’s hoops skirt necessitated tiny steps, and out of the skirt she did a 60s shimmy, like a twist that originates in the shoulders, not the hips.  Finding yet another place to hide glitter, she whipped out a New Year’s Eve honker; struck poses, downright vogueing; stripped to hot purple bra and panties, stripped to electric blue pasties, and ended on a hard stop.  Now THAT’S how you kick off an evening.

Fast forward four hours, add a little booze—just a little—and shake well, and you’d have one of our last acts of the evening, recent New York transplant Vicky Sin, who came out as square and 50s housewifey as possible and descended into decadence.  All in bright, bright colors, rocking the oven mitts, Vicky’s prop was a pink pie—get it?  Or am I the only one dirty enough to think that?  I know Scotty doesn’t get that hetero humor—besides, I’m cranky at Scotty for announcing “there’s a new dyke in town”; give the girl a break, maybe she wants to turn over a new leaf in NYC, swing a little.  Give us girls a chance, Bunny—ANYway, Vicky is hot, cute, and a little twisted as she bends over to lick the meringue from her cotton candy pie, drops to the splits, turns the pie upside down to lick it some more, finally dropping all clothing and using the pie to create custom, on-the-spot, candy pink pasties.  Somebody call Herb Alpert, she’s playing his song.

For sweet, part the third, we Gal Friday in her trademark pink diaphanous gown, hair in what could only be called a ponytail if ponies were made of waterfalls, flipping up her skirt for a crotch tease in the first steps of her surf tune ballet.  This girl does more with less than just about anyone—sure, she’s plenty hot, and has body for days, but a simple reach for the sky becomes poetry, the crowd hanging on her every bite of the glove.  Tensing a disrobed bra to slowly grind her ass against the string—it ain’t what you do, it’s HOW you do it, and Gal has mastered the art of directing the collective eye of the audience.  Look here, now here, gooood, now watch me here—no, over here—gooood.  Reaching for the sky at the end, slowly licking her lips like she just ate us, Melody Mudd turned to me and said, “No one can undulate like Gal.”

But speaking of eating us, while the sweet triumvirate whet my appetite, it’s not off topic to think that any one of those three acts would have been right at home in Vegas.  What will always get my rocks off about the NYBF are the acts that would NOT be seen in Vegas.  Give me the freaky, give me the deaky, give me the freaky fuckin’ deaky.  You won’t see Scotty onstage in Vegas deep-throating a microphone and saying, “Whatever.  I’ve made out with mens’ assholes.  You think this mic scares me?”  Or my personal fave, “Gonna suck a dick up to the hiccup.”  (Damn, that line makes me sad to be straight—it’s hard to find a woman so committed.)  And you won’t see Kristina Nekyia carried onstage in leg braces.

Ok—this is some dark shit.  Kristina’s in tighty whiteys and an A shirt cut at the midriff, wearing leg braces that force her legs onto pointe.  Not that those shoes would let you walk any other way—the heels are so high her toes barely reach that far.  She crawls up onto a chair and sits, head down, hair matted and hiding her face like that creepy chick in “The Ring,” and when she slowly, slooowly looks up—whoa, crap, that’s scary.  It’s in the eyes, man, in the eyes—and I’m not talking about the gnarly mascara.  A slow grind of the pelvis, stares us down.  Rising on crutches, a slow walk, a slow ass grind—throws the crutches, slams her body on the floor, flips over, rolling at the photographers—and the side of her face is a bloody mess.  Back in the chair, bends back as if broken, rips her shirt off revealing hospital tape pasties, legs spread obscenely.  It’s not fair to the other acts, but I have to mention that she really did bust her head open—though she was none worse for wear save a shiner.  I totally BOUGHT it—man, how did she get that stage blood on her face so quick?  Nope, that’s real shit, and that freak didn’t blink.  Cue Scotty: “What a weirdo.  I love you.”  I second.

Give me more dark—Madame Rosebud, bringing down the motherfucking house.  Grace Jones, “Corporate Cannibal.”  Rosebud stalks the stage, fetished-out, mask over face, a black net covering her flame-red Mohawk, a dress of black shroud, black leather gloves.  She is stalking us from the stage like a panther, and you can almost feel the audience lean back a little—this shit is intimidating.  She’s doing some weird open-close hand gesture, hands bent like claws, and it doesn’t help that Jones is intoning “I’m a man-eating machine.”  When she finally turns upstage to remove the black mask, she turns back to us with a net still over her face—utterly fierce—pulling her dress half down over her ass, losing it, grabbing her ass and throwing herself onto her knees on the stage, beating it.  The music is winding up and the crowd is flipping out.  In the chair, she’s giving us that LOOK.  Black mesh over a bondage asterisk of leather and buckles across her midriff, hands on the chair, body in front of it, pulsing, a pelvic grind that is more accusatory than seductive, tongue tasting the air like a snake.  Over her shoulder, in the stage left wings, I can see at least half a dozen heads of her peers, peeking out to see what the fuck she’s doing.  She ends beckoning to us.  The crowd goes absolutely nuts, the vibe more rockstar than burlesque.

Which reminds me of Ruby Valentine’s totally surprising offering.  Ruby did a fucking nunchucks act.  Totally serious.  Apparently she really looks up to Bruce Lee—I know, I wouldn’t have guessed it either.  All in black, with fishnets, she pulled out a pair of nunchucks and started working them, hand-to-hand flips, a throw flip, bouncing them off of her hips, spinning them around her neck and getting her skirt off.  And then—yup—TWO pairs of nunchucks, wielding them like a pro, slapping her ass with them.  Fucking NUTS.  Next time, I want to see nunchucks with some really scary music, shaft lighting, and opponents.  Ruby, you must BECOME Bruce Lee.  For more darkness, we got Vancouver’s gorgeous Melody Mangler crawling onstage in a blood-drenched nightgown, rocking out to the Reverend Horton Heat, drawing a gun (thanks for blowing that suspense, Scotty) and touching her tongue to her lips so overly-eroticized it was almost—almost—hotter than watching her push her skirt over her ass.  And BTW, Melody was on a plane with Rudy Giuliani AND Scotty the Bunny en route to NYC, and I think there’s a joke in there somewhere.

For a totally different kind of darkness, you had to really slow down your heartbeat and get into Peekaboo Pointe’s quiet, slo-mo, heartfelt depressed-married-woman-in-the-mirror routine, which I will write into a thesis the next time I see it.  And I’m also looking to interview the Incredible, Edible Akynos, because like the white boy I am, I have to ask—what the FUCK are you doing with your body?  Seriously—no one else moves like that.  What are those side-to-side moves, those arm positions that make Egyptian bas-reliefs look lazily akimbo?  We need to talk—I don’t have the vocab to confab.  And for sheer energy, HOLY SHIT it’s Leroi the Girl Boi, in a big Chinese dragon costume that borrows fancy dance colors and almost comes across as more of a Balinese Barong, whipping her train, doing the Tigger! right in front of Tigger, and whipping her tassels and striking the dragon pose—claws out! Damn.

Other standouts in a stand-out evening:

Darlinda Just Darlinda’s black-light marathon “Moby Dick” tassel twirl, and it’s too bad that certain photographers kept using flash and fucking it up.  Flying Fox—as a fucking stage kitten?  I mean, do I have to spell it out?  Vivienne Vavoom demonstrates the right way to use a half-and-half costume, turning her puppet upstage and making Drac’s mauling of her totally convincing, and keeping us engaged without losing more than gloves.  Ruby Champagne—ok, my notes literally read, “thinking of sex—what a body—wow.”  Orchid Mei—always so gorgeous—and Miss La Vida, from New Zealand, whose act I didn’t understand but whose face could launch at least 999 ships, and should really work pinup if she’s not already.  Oh, and Bunny Love: WTF?  A dog?  I get the whole “Lady and the Tramp” thing, but, really?  I gotta draw the line at bestiality—and if you weren’t thinking that, you should have.  No, darling.  No.

But, YES, Little Brooklyn.  I can’t even go into it without starting to cry, and a man should never cry when leaning over electronic devices.  The whole NY crew threw a blessing-laden baby shower for Little Brooklyn, seven months along and GORGEOUS, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.  Besides, most of us don’t get to see pregnant women in such glory, and since even the Scotty’s of the world came from one, it’s gosh darn religious.  Again, this piece needs its own thesis, burlesquing baby showers, burlesquing burlesque, and honoring motherhood in a blooming celebration that never becomes saccharine.  If you’d like to hear the music, check out the Rockabye Baby version of Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.”  I don’t want to, either.

Scotty, take us out—“One stitch for daddy!”

Kiss kiss,


All photos ©2010 Melody Mudd. For images please contact her at, and find her on facebook, flickr, twitter.

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