by J.D. Oxblood
Friday, March 9, 2012
Parkside Lounge, Lower East Side, NYC
“Ya want some fries with our shakes?”—reads the excellent tagline, touting “now the ONLY show of its kind in New York’s nightlife,” an only slightly-cloaked reference. I’ve talked before about the similarities between the scene percolating over at the Parkside Lounge and the former BQ HQ The Slipper Room. The producers vying at the Parkside are trying, though the vibe is differentiated by the division of space—at the Slip, the action at the bar always threatened to overtake the stage, and even the semi-privacy of the back tables was intruded upon by the rancor pouring from the stage. The Parkside shows are in the back room, so it only gets sloppy when the patrons do, and the dive-bar ethos of the front room evolves unfettered, the patrons swilling PBRs and playing trivia with impunity, possibly unaware there is a show going on mere feet away.
New York is change. (And stasis, if you take the long view.) No one really knows what will become of the Slip, but the rumors are flying, and if it’s true that Habacker sold the building, it’s a 50/50 coin toss whether the venue—when it does reopen, and in true Gotham fashion, it’s overdue—will become a high-class successful performance venue like Galapagos, which will almost certainly need high cover charges to accompany the high drink prices, or if the New Slipper Room will quickly become Something Else—the kind of place the Ruling Class like to hang out in when slumming the “El-Ee-Es.” Time will tell, and in case you haven’t been paying attention, time is a bitch.
Meanwhile, we have the Parkside, and shows that keep the old downtown rough-and-tumble flame alight, like Drive Thru Burlesque. I don’t know what the name is about, but to me, it’s instructional: the best way to taste is actually to drive through—pop in for an hour, pop out to blow a joint, pop back in as the next producing team takes over, pop across the street for a slice, and overall, get fucked up, get riled up, and get off.
Drive Thru is produced by the inirascible Sizzle Dizzle and Lefty Lucy, who’s on tour, lending us the stand-in Clams Casino, who looked stunning in a long, bright orange kimono, and spent the evening camped stage right, refusing to take it off. For a show opener (the “Early Bird Special”) we got the always-terrifying Iris Explosion, who was introduced as “the Mimic Octopus of Burlesque”—this is bone-crushingly high geek factor—and wrapped a strip around a game of Mousetrap, removing her clothes to find the pieces hidden about her body and assembling the board piece by piece. (The diving man was in her ass, natch.) I’m still trying to figure out what Mousetrap has to do with Santa Esmerelda’s “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” better known as “That hand-clapping song from Kill Bill.” I can’t believe that I.E. would have picked it arbitrarily.
Anyhoo, let it wash, it’s only the first act, and you’re gonna be here for hours, drinkin’—and here’s Lil Brooklyn, doing her Richard Simmons workout act—lower geek factor, but still, I wondered how many youngsters in the crowd know who R.S. is. Was? Is he dead?
Intermission means gogo, and we were treated to the bendy styles of Briana, aka Bendy Bri, a cutie who probably wasn’t even born yet in the 80s but is rocking the half-long, half-cropped 80s do, some killer-cute zippered platforms, and a stellar ass.
On to Act II, the Chef’s Choice, which tonight is all about Coney Island, and hosted by Adam the First Real Man, who lights a stack of cigarettes and eats them, dousing each on his tongue. He proceeds to pimp the upcoming Webster Hall show (March 24th—you should check it out) throughout his Borscht Belt patter, and brings out Sizzle Dizzle for her fantastic Ms. Pac Man act, and BB Heart for her “naked” strip.
The other true Coney Sideshow regular in attendance is a longtime crush of mine, the wonderfully skilled fire eater named Insectavora (something about the facial tattoos inspire obvious sexual fantasies). No fire tonight, instead we’re treated to Insectavora’s take on boxed magic tricks (such as the multiplying bottles), nevertheless entertaining due to Insecetavora’s irresistible charm. The girls’ got patter, she feigns guilelessness well, and damnit, she’s cute. We also—later in the show—got to see her do a human blockhead act, and while the sinuses are never my first choice for insertion, I’ve never seen anyone do a claw hammer extraction with such charm.
Adam the First Real Man stuffs his mouth with dental floss and a stack of double-sided razor blades (the ones that look like movie tickets and are seriously infamous if you’ve spent any time in Bangkok), and proceeds to work his mouth to the music (Adam loves his mouth) and spit a string of blades, tied neatly to floss.
And heating the room to the boiling point is BB Heart’s excellent black fan dance to a searing Spanish soundtrack, the “Gasolina” -inspired booty shake that blew the beach away and earned her the title of Miss Coney Island. May her reign shower us all with glitter.
Overall, the challenge for Drive Thru—like any show—is to get more people Driving Thru. We could have used some more people in the room to truly light it on fire, and the slovenly crowd in the main bar weren’t joining in. The past always seems nostalgic, but remember that half of what made the Slipper Room such a success were the dickwashed douchebags that swung by to howl, heckle and hurl in the basement bathroom. We need fuckwads like them. If I were tossing out suggestions to the producers, I’d say, Get more girls, keep the gogos rotating like mad (a louder crowd will bring people in from the next room), and consider the Subcontractor Solution: an hour-long show here, an hour-long show there, maybe with completely different producers and casts, casting a wider net in getting people in the door.
And if I were offering suggestions to the audience of New York, I’d say—you people need to get out more.
All photos ©Peter Marquez for Burlesque Beat. Performers may use shots for promotional purposes, but please credit properly with photographer’s full name and a link to this piece. Those who would like hi-rez images, please get in touch.