By Sean K. Young
Saturday, June 9, 2012
The Allways Lounge, New Orleans
The Dirty Dime Peepshow – if you thought other burlesque shows were risqué, in the words of Randy Bachman, “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet!”
When Bella Blue created Dirty Dime, she wanted to push the limits of burlesque. Leading up to her latest show, she teased us via Facebook with quips like “Leave your judgments at home,” and “We finished installing the hard point for suspending humans this evening” and my personal favorite, “you’ll want to punch yourself in the taint if you miss this show.” Finally, on the day of the show, she wrote, “ The Allways Lounge requires you wear a pillowcase over your head so you don’t get brains everywhere when we blow your fucking mind.” Seriously, this better be epic.
The photo wench and I got to the Allways a bit early as she wanted to catch some of a 24-hour theater festival that was wrapping up before Dirty Dime. Most of you probably do not know this, but once upon a time, Tonya was a thespian and still occasionally pines for the stage—maybe we will see her in pasties one day. We caught the tail end of the performance and it was great. The ladies of The National Comedy Company, a local improv group, were especially entertaining. I foresee a show in Southern Babylon’s future.
But I digress, we were really here for the Dirty Dime.
As the theater audience filtered out, the late night folks started pouring in—by midnight, the Allways was jammed up like a blood clot and it was a decidedly rowdier crowd. Then, to my surprise, Bella asked if she could put a couple of her friends at my table, and who was I to refuse our esteemed hostess? Little did I know that I would be joined by none other than local glamour gals Ruby Rage and Roxie Le Rouge. This night was just getting better by the minute.
Mastering the evening’s ceremony was Slow Burn’s Ben Wisdom, but the master of the first act was Kinbaku artist Gabriel Black. Dressed as a Samurai, Gabriel is followed on stage by his Geisha, Angel V, whom he undresses and methodically binds. V stares over the audience with an unfocused look of concentration as Gabriel seemingly draws power from the pumping industrial music. Once bound, V becomes the aforementioned suspended human. Gabriel then spins and pushes the hogtied maiden both literally and figuratively, whipping her into a frenzy. This was way more than a little slap and tickle, and when Gabriel finally lowers V to the stage and leads her off like a pet, the crowd is a little in shock. It was powerful, uncomfortable for some but powerful, and this was only the first act of the evening.
Aquatic Sam was the first of two contortionists of the evening, and while her act was not quite as serious as the previous, it was no less engrossing. Sam’s back bending ballet was beautiful to watch, but I cringed as she bent so far backwards I thought her head might actually go up her ass. I think she may have had her spine surgically removed.
Lightening the mood was Bella’s first performance—though I suppose that really depends on how you feel about religion. Bella pranced out on stage carrying the good book while wearing a Catholic schoolgirl skirt and a T-shirt stating “Jesus is My Rock Star.” Taking off her skirt to reveal her tighty whiteys, Bella began spanking herself with a cross and proceeded to masturbate to a poster of Jesus while Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” played, eventually proclaiming her faith with her WWJD pasties.
In one of the more bizarre acts of the evening, Vinsantos DeFonte, who is quite possibly the love child of Marilyn Manson and Hannibal Lector, gave us a dark gender-bending cabaret. Carrying a handbag and cradling a rubber face like a beloved pet, Vinsantos lip-synced a duet with said face until he ate it. Appropriately, the tune was Roberta Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”. Much to Ruby Rage’s dismay, we never found out what was in the bag.
The always funny Michael Miller followed as his stage persona the strangely foreign Conway Clitty. Conway sang about blow jobs and his pants, naturally. Speaking of BJs, earlier in the evening Bella and Ben requested that the audience tweet the most outrageous thing they have heard during oral sex. There were some interesting tweets for sure, but the clear winner was, “What day is this toilet paper from?” The tweeter’s prize was a personal strip from Bella who eventually got down to an icing g-string(?). As she spread the sugary merkin on, Roxie turned to me and said “That is going to itch later.” Good to know.
Just when I thought the show could not get more outrageous, Ben announced the Lady Lucerne. This girl is forever pushing people’s buttons and tonight was no different. Dressed as a fetus with a coat hanger in its head—yes, you read that right—she danced to Destiny Child’s “I’m a Survivor.” She stripped down to a diaper, of course, and whipped her umbilical cord around the room, whacking people that were close to the stage. I would love to know what goes on in her head.* Poor Chatty the Mime went on stage after with her comparatively tame Splish Splash routine, which is fun and light and without a trace of placenta.
What came next blew me and everyone else away. Introduced simply as Fleeky, I had no idea what I was in store for. His herky-jerky spider-like movements made me feel as if I had dropped some serious acid. If Fleeky were just a front-bending contortionist, his act would be cool, but he is also an extraordinary hand balancer. Words can not do justice to how amazing he was. Fleeky is a must see act if you get the chance. I overheard one audience member say, “That is some Cirque du fuckin’ Soleil shit there.” I could not have said it better myself.
In the final act of the show, Bella Blue and Lady Lucerne faced off in a wild west gunfight/strip off. It was the Good, the Bad, and the Filthy. I thought it was brilliant when they got down to sheriff’s badges for pasties and panties and then whipped them off and started flinging them shuriken style. It took about a half second to realize they were baring all. But wait, they were not done… Lucerne commenced to whipping the apparently unarmed Bella with Mardi Gras beads. Little did she or anyone else know that Bella was carrying a concealed weapon. Bella pulled a string of pearls from her pink oyster to fight back the evil Lucerne. Unbelievable.
The Dirty Dime Peepshow may not be for everyone. It certainly took people out of their comfort zones, but love it or hate, Bella did her job—she blew our fucking minds.
Until next time people, good night.
[*I would not. —Ed.]
This piece originally appeared here.
New to the burlesque scene, Sean K. Young is the managing partner of a New Orleans-based I.T. firm. He and Tonya Armbruster have recently launched the NOLA culture blog Southern Babylon.
All photos ©Tonya Armbruster and used with express permission by Burlesque Beat.Performers may use shots for promotional purposes, but please credit properly with photographer’s full name and a link to this piece in all instances. Performers who would like hi-rez images, get in touch.