by J.D. Oxblood
Orleans Showroom, Las Vegas
Thursday, June 2, 2011
You arrive at the casino and realize that there is not much difference between the people you came to see and a convention of the highest-selling life insurance agents from the greater Dayton, Ohio area. Yep—you’re all a bunch of dorks caught up in your little world, and the second you set foot inside the Orleans you can’t take five steps without running into someone you know. The excitement and anticipation is as palpable as paranoia in a room half full of cops and half full of potheads, and the overflowing feeling of freneticism rolls right into the Orleans Showroom. It’s opening night, baby, and if it’s a little uneven, it may be because we don’t know what to expect, or maybe because it’s been rebranded again, but it’s probably because we’re all a little too well-rested and a little too, well, sober. Not that it matters. The energy is contagious, and we’re all exactly where we want to be. Have a drink and let it wash over you….
We begin our tour in Colorado. (Colorado? I know, right?) And not even Denver—Hazel Humdinger is from Colorado Springs, less famous than Boulder or Vail, and let none of this trivia infringe on the fact that Ms. Humdinger is cute as a bug’s ear and works her ass off—literally—to not only open the night but open the WEEKEND. Hat’s off to you, honey, that is one tough post to draw. And draw our eyes she does, ditching a red sparkly dress and making it all about the assels, building to an energetic climax with 360 turns, twirling tassels and assels both.
Pan over to North Carolina—where DON’T there be burlesque nowadays?—where Meka la Crème sports a white flowered kimono and balloon tits. No, I’m not being disgusting, I mean she actually had balloons popping out of her kimono. Almost as far as my eyes popped when she popped the glitter in those balloons to reveal a
lean, flat belly, small breasts and a slow, leaning demeanor that made the eyes fail to stray. Nice choreo, including a headstand and Charleston steps, and an agonizingly slow bra removal to pink tassels and a blue wig. Fun AND hot, my favorite one-two punch.
From across the pond, London’s Kitty Bang Bang, with a die-topped showgirl hat and a skirt made of balloons which also glittered when popped (this is the kind of thing that you have to ding the curators for, it just ain’t the performers’ fault) and I started to wonder if the act was a hodgepodge of too many things at once, when I
realized she was on pointe. And had been, the entire act. What vaults this performer into the “wow” is the execution of non-ballet steps on pointe. Jazz steps, ballroom steps—do we have that shot of her absolutely LEANING?—all on pointe. And the severe face, kohl-black hair and Rodin ass don’t hurt, neither. I realize London has a different aesthetic and I only wish I could afford to visit. Can we get a correspondent?
Then there’s perennial New York favorite Leroi the Girl Boi, who seldom performs because she’s like a secret agent or something—we’ll find out once Scooter Libby spills and it gets made into an ABC movie—but when she does, holy fuck. I’ve already raved rabidly about this mongrel Chinese lion act—which, to my mind, echoes Balinese Barong almost as much as it emulates late-90s club kid excess—but really, read the pics, I’m boring me. This girl is the fucking shit.
The evening started to gain momentum and I started drinking… missing much of Italian Sweety J’s act while trying to score a drink during intermission, but her face is lovely, her leave is divine, and her costume freaky-deaky, a half-mask framing her face and a twitch in her frame. Then Siren Santina as a pilgrim with a wimple, severe black cloaks revealing turkey legs—literally—an enormous plumage, and yes, also a feathered tail. Cue yellow stockings, bird beak, and 60s music driving
this blonde bombshell from Knoxville, Tennessee. KNOXVILLE, folks. See, I live in this big bad city of 9 million people, and I know most of my fellow Newyorquinos have NOT been to all 50 states, so they may not feel how awesome it is to see risk-taking art from a place where letting your freak flag fly has not been… um… traditionally… encouraged. Santina, I’m making a construction paper hand-traced turkey card for you this T-giving.
Continuing our tour, Portland’s Nina Nightshade dropped her dress without—and I swear I was looking closely—even touching it. BTW, Portland has a strip club on every corner. It’s like: video store, strip club, bar, strip club, sushi joint, strip club—so if you can make it there while keeping some clothes on I say hell yeah. It’s about time we saw some serious shit coming out of that town.
Lulu Lollipop stepped out of a bathtub, her costume outfitted with cotton balls posing as soap bubbles just damn clever, as she tore it off to snarling clarinet music and showed off her divine white complexion. Now she’s just down the road in Philly so I don’t know why she never comes to visit. She could work with New York’s own Clams Casino, who turned in her famed silhouette act, or Jonny Porkpie, who brought us his “Howard Cosell” act—where he’s got the sports announcers telling us how well he’s doing in his striptease—it’s fucking hilarious, and this was the best I’ve ever seen it.
Wisconsin’s Moxi Rhodes & Kitty LaRue get mad points for using hip hop—in this case, Trina featuring Trick Daddy—posing as cops with light-up batons, waving traffic to “Pull Over that Ass Too Fat.” And there ain’t nothing like two white girls complaining about an ass being too fat. When their bras came off, the straps stayed in place, giving them a shoulder-holster kind of militant chic. And what’s up with Wisconsinites, anyway? Does all the cheese and the lack of sunlight just make them wonderfully TWISTED?
And then there’s Tokyo, which I’ve long given up on trying to understand. I was there in February—it was barely 40 degrees, and every girl on the metro was wearing a skirt that stopped six inches above her knees, and stockings that ended an inch or two past them. So every single girl in Tokyo was showing that crucial
few inches of skin—in fucking winter. It. Was. So. Hot. That I had to leave. Literally, in under 24 hours, I got the fuck out of town. So here’s Bee Tiny Tot, rocking out to that “Hairspray” song about how you can’t stop the beat, and she’s ditching big ass overalls for a bright green and pink skirt, flipping her bra into tiny fans, and stripping the clothes off her tiny stuffed bear. Cute, hot, ludicrous, and all-over entertaining, and plus I had Bastard Keith sitting three rows back and his raucous laugh was shaking the mezzanine.
As a climax to the evening we had “featured” performances, first by Trixie Little, who began with a perp walk in an orange jumpsuit, being told to stab out her confession, and then got into a sleazy blues, pulling off her heels to reveal—heels, which was slap-your-forehead awesome. Biting off the jumpsuit she showed us her fishnet derriere and worked handstand splits into floor splits. Her confession? Guilty. And tearing down the house, now that we no longer need it, is the indefatigable Julie Atlas Muz—y’know, I used to brag about her being from New York, but she spends so little time there, is it really fair ? We’re greeted with two figures in white radiation suits; one chokes and dies, one is the little girl from Chernobyl. It’s all black light, and she strips down to reveal day-glo pink hair,
green bra and panties, orange gloves and flaming pink pasties, and slowly raises a bright green isotope to throbbing German prog rock, and eats it. There’s more but I’m not telling.
If I’m going to single out an innovator, I want to talk about Surlie Temple—great name, btw—for creating a pullaway sweater dress. The song? Weezer’s “Sweater Song,” natch, and her tight-fitting red dress with yellow stripes was all middle-America arts n’ crafts—I’m gonna say knitting, though from this distance it could have been crochet. The yellow stripe is an actual yarn running around her body, and as it’s pulled, the dress comes apart. Scrambling on the floor, a single yellow thread undoes her tight blue mid-calf knitted stockings. She gave the yarns a delicate little pull, a sloooow pull at her breasts, and an incredible little wink before revealing pom pom pasties. Trixie Little—Miss Innovation herself—was sitting at my elbow, and murmured to me about Surlie’s level of commitment: “She has to reset that every time!” No nonsense, yet all silly, this is my kind of act—and I can’t wait to see more from the Badship Lollipop.
And from a totally different aesthetic but for similar stylistic execution, I’m gunnin’ for Ray Gunn, who—like Jett Adore last year—was strangely missing from the boylesque competition. Like Surlie Temple, he drew attention to HOW he got out of his clothes rather than hide it. Ray Gunn played himself like a violin, rolling himself along the surface of the stage to a moody soundtrack, bowing himself and sawing off his sleeves—pulling out white strings and flipping them to the floor—doing a casual one-handed back handspring—and facing upstage to saw off his pants. The concept, the movement and the execution were all flawless, and his ass was so perfect that it truly made me HATE him. As he turned downstage—well, by then it was too dark to see. Everyone always talks about the boylesque—and Ray Gunn and Jonny Porkpie got the only standing O’s of the night.
All photos ©2011 Melody Mudd. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for permissions. Performers, please do 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, get in touch.