By J.D. Oxblood
March 30, 2011
The back room at the Parkside Lounge has a grungy, dumpy quality that conjures up alcohol-repressed memories of the old Slipper Room, with the added value of being fronted by a classic dive bar that went uber-düchbag in clientele sometime in the early aughts. So imagine my culture-shockiness on a random Wednesday night when an anticipatory burlesque audience is lined up literally from the entrance to the back room ALL THE WAY out the front door to the street, surrounded on all sides by college-aged—hipsters? Beardophiles? WTF should we call these people anymore, anyway—I thought trucker’s caps were tres post-911 syndrome—well, anyway it was a tale of two cities, and all I could do was marvel at the awesome level of promotion.
Even more exciting than a packed house is a house packed with audience, i.e., non-performers, not people you recognize. We’re trying to spread the disease, right?—not just re-dose the infected.
When the door was opened we padded into the venue and were met with the lubricious sounds of Julee Cruise’s voice and offered free donuts. The tables—ice cream tables with marquetry chairs, and this may be the only venue in town with such cabaret-style seating—were topped with ads for themed cocktails. This is production, people! Onstage, a prone blond woman wrapped in plastic. Or maybe
not. As she started to writhe, billowing the plastic, I realized that was our gogo for the preshow—and when said gogo ditched the plastic it revealed a painted face with serious muttonchops—a dude in a suit gogo-ing to Angelo Badalamenti. Not freakin’ easy. And truly, whatever the hell Dr. Flux, Phd was doing up there had more in common with performance art than gogo—complete with making the audience totally uncomfortable. This went on for awhile, as he slowly disrobed to track after track, as the audience trickled in and ordered cocktails, as Bastard Keith tossed out the odd insult from the sidelines. And while Flux’s chops might be spirit glued-on, that collarbone-to-waistline landing strip is all-natural Wookies-ville. The fed suit gives way to an ugly print shirt with an uglier patterned tie, and Flux is in the house making skin crawl. Or turning people on. It was hard to tell. The dude is fucking awesome. JD, please give that last line a rewrite. No, other JD, “the dude is fucking awesome” is actually a pretty good, if underwritten, pullquote. Go Flux. Cue jock strap… brown eye… and I’m sitting in the front row.
Bastard Keith, who always opens with a song, went the distance and sang the lyrics to Julee’s “Falling”—and nailed it, giving it a soaring, blistering quality even while he was sotto voce-ing how his delivery resembled David Bowie. You can’t blame him—everyone WANTS to be David Bowie, but sadly, no one can be. Not even his own son, who may be having a good month but is still playing second fiddle—in blowjob frequency—to Jake Gyllenhaal. It’s ok, Keith, I understand. You still nailed it.
I never was hot for the Log Lady, personally, but I might have to rethink that ‘tude after seeing Amelia Bareparts’ take on the gum-chewing weirdo. After sticking her gum under her chair and wiggling her glasses at her log’s dirty suggestion, she ditches her skirt and top down to thigh highs and garters, licks her finger and rubs her log, and bends forward to use the log as a rolling pin across her tits. And you know she’s going to ride it… you just know. And that’s super fun, coz Amelia has one of those capable, square derrieres… you ever get behind one of those? Makes you forget your troubles at the office.
Bastard Keith describes not enjoying Twin Peaks when he was first exposed to it, and then rediscovering it years later… I can only assume, after he discovered marijuana. His running gag with Gemini Rising (as Audrey Horne) casts him as Agent Cooper, but I was waiting for him to “DO” Cooper, or at least turn on that tape recorder in his hand and bust a “Diane.” Next time.
But the hotties are in place, and Foxy Vermouth is, like, super hot. Hot in a wistful, teenage daydream kind of way—blonde, long-waisted, drawn by Vargas—and tied up in white ropes. Sick custom-made white rope bra, and the way she starts out in bondage and barely dressed without very far to go, and gets there slowly… frees hands, slow grinding to blues, doing a slow string bikini pull with a deadeye look on her face that begs howls from the crowd—a quick smile, an ass flash, biting her skirt strings, popping a bra strap. A half-lip kiss that taunts into a smile. She ends on the floor with her legs up, burning the rope that ties her ankles together with a Zippo. Pouts offstage.
Franny Fluffer uses her first act to sing and practice her fan work. Franny, the fearless producer of the Pink Room, has a long face, a thin Russian nose and an honest Irish smile. Which I totally don’t trust. White fans reveal a black dress and a coquettish demeanor. Her upper body can only be called immaculate; small breats, flawless skin—and her final move is a slow, open fan reveal to display her pasties, a rapper-sized owl necklace, and the slow exit of a pulsing body.
One of the things that keeps me crawling back to lick Madame Rosebud’s boots is the fear she brings to the stage. No, she’s not scared—she scares the crap out of us. Ok, tribute to One-Eyed Jacks, Rosebud in a big blond wig, ok, I’m onboard, she’s facing the upstage wall in a red corset, white thigh highs, black panties and red gloves. But she demands that we scream before she pulls the gloves off, moving to chair work to lose her shoes behind her back, pulling her stockings off with her teeth. And then live, without a net, crawls into the audience, leans over a girl, and makes out with her. That’s the fear part. Coz you know half the audience is wondering if the woman in the audience was a plant—she wasn’t—and the other half is wondering if the woman in the audience is actually gay. I don’t know and who the fuck cares. You just gotta respect Rosebud’s “fuck all y’all” attitude that crosses the line and crosses back. Serious splits, electrical tape for pasties. Hot fucking stuff.
The surprise of the evening was Philadelphia’s own Miss Rose, mixing bathos with pathology as Leland Palmer, in a stewardess outfit with gold clubs to “Mares Eat Oats.” Miss Rose is super, super cute, and, quite possibly, totally insane. Which is like the best combination. After a nice recovery after knocking her clubs over, she sings into a 5-wood and vamps before discovering a severed arm in the golf bag. This causes her to cry convulsively—think Lucille Ball—before snapping out of it and continuing on happily, dancing and stripping her clothes off—before succumbing to hysteria again, finding a bloody golf tee—more happy stripping—you get the idea. What you don’t get is how brutally effective of a weapon Rose hewed out of a tired trope: the manic depressive performance. She collapsed at the end, crying while cuddling the severed arm, and it was… really hot. Also totally disturbing. And if you’re not down with hot PLUS disturbing you’re just wasting my time. This is one demented chick; one to watch.
Gemini Rising gets a nice break as Audrey Horne, and puts forth the effort to bring it home. Her cute face and heavy lids suggest good casting, and she walks with an
exaggerated stride, smoking. Dr. Lux holds up a temporary shoji screen made of playing cards while Gemini cops a costume change in front of us but unseen, stepping back out in a red corset, a black negligee, and rocking a weird-ass mask. The two sides of Audrey Horne, and all the Sherilyn Fenn fantasizing that goes along with that. Come on—I was in college when Twin Peaks was on—Ms. Fenn is barely older than I am, and I was smoking enough weed back then to actually believe that it could happen. ANYway, Gemini manages a stiffness to her lips, like she’s either about to crack a smile—or perhaps spit in your face. It’s a strength. So is being able to tie a cherry stem in a knot in your mouth that quickly.
Franny Fluffer gets to wind us down, and she does Laura Palmer—platinum wig, long plaid skirt, white shirt—you know, your basic hubba hubba school girl fantasy. Which is half the fucking reason any of us sat through Twin Peaks to begin with. That, and the weed. Franny consults her diary and snorts glitter—she was a cokehead, remember? Best use of glitter so far in 2011. The music shifts to the early 60s ballad “Daddy’s Home,” she pushes her skirt up, faces upstage to unzip, and then gives us a tortured, crying face as she takes the skirt off. Again, some twisted fucking hot-ass nonsense—which is what we paid to see. The act deteriorates into an emotional conniption fit of controlled fear as Franny’s face goes full-frontal terrified as her luminous skin vibrates with terror. So scared; so hot. Daddy’s Home. Everything that’s wrong with me responds to everything that’s right about Franny Fluffer. Where the fuck did she come from? (I didn’t know the answer, so please see below Q&A for a quickie with Franny.)
I got that excellent feeling that I’ve been missing since getting back to New York City. Ah… there is a point to all of this. Or at least a muthafuckin’ PAYOFF.
Thank you, Franny.
All photos ©Melody Mudd. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for permissions. Thrilled for performers to use shots for promotional purposes, but please credit properly with photographer’s full name and a link to this piece. Performers who would like hi-rez images, please get in touch.
A QUICKIE WITH FRANNY FLUFFER NUTTER
How long have you been performing burlesque and where did you get your start? I had my first burlesque experience years ago in Boston performing in the chorus line and gogo dancing for Thru the Keyhole Burlesque with Tallulah Starlight. It wasn’t until I discovered the NY School of Burlesque and met Jo “Boobs” Weldon that I found a way to break into the NYC burlesque scene. I performed my first number at the Slipper Room just over a year ago thanks to the tutelage and TITalage of Dr. Lucky PhD. I can’t believe that in only a year’s time I am performing in festivals and producing but I feel that burlesque has been bubbling inside me for years.
What was your original indoctrination to the work of D. Lynch? Twin Peaks was my gateway drug to the much harder & edgier works of David Lynch. I had fallen asleep on the couch with the TV on and the dreams I had during the pilot episode of TP reflected what was going on in the show. It was freaky and most kids my age would have started crying but I was hooked. I didn’t understand much of it but as I got older I delved into Blue Velvet then Wild & Heart.
What made you think that crossing Lynch with burlesque would work? Everything that I love about burlesque is what I love about David Lynch’s work: the quirky comedy, the non-traditional storytelling and most importantly, the raw sexuality of his mysterious femme fatales. As with anything, I wasn’t 100% sure how the show would work out but I was inspired by Agent Coopers quote in Twin Peaks, “I have no idea where this will lead us, but I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange.”
This project seems to be taking off–you’ve added another show and the audience is responding–has this surpassed your expectations? As my first producing venture I had no idea what to expect and I only hoped that there were enough Lynch fans in New York to peak interest in the Twin Peaks show but I was overwhelmed by the response. I feel as though this needed to happen for the fans and this was the perfect time to do it. The first show took place on the eve of Laura Palmer’s death and needless to say we KILLED IT!
If you exhaust the Lynch catalog, what happens next? I hope to continue producing David Lynch-inspired shows for as long as there is interest but as a veteran of the movie “biz” I will always be inspired by cinema. The next installment of The Pink Room – Blue Velvet Burlesque on April 27th will follow a cinema-themed show called Franny’s FLIck’s – who doesn’t love watching the previews before the main attraction?!
DON’T MISS THIS WEEK’S INSTALLMENT OF THE PINK ROOM!
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Franny’s FLICKS, 8pm, followed by
The Pink Room – David Lynch Burlesque, 9:30pm
At the Parkside Lounge
317 East Houston Street (at Attorney)
$10 advanced tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/170605
$15 for both shows at the door 21+, 2 drink minimum
Hosted by Bastard Keith
Performances by: Creamy Stevens, Dangrrr Doll, Iris Explosion, Fem Appeal, Franny Fluffer Nutter, Gemini Rising , Miss Rose (Philadelphia), Rosabelle Selavy, Tina Tassels, Tiny D & gogo dancing by Foxy Vermouth.