by J.D. Oxblood
Friday, June 7, 2013
To the epic sound of Harry Belafonte’s “Banana Boat Song” (aka “Day-O,” immortalized by Beetlejuice et al), The Evil Hate Monkey rummages through the audience at the Slipper Room, scampers onto the stage, climbs the proscenium, and swings on a suspended drape over the heads of the delighted punters. When the curtains open, we’re greeted with the welcome sight of Trixie Little astride a giant fucking banana. It’s banana-tastic, it’s a-peeling, it’s potassium-rich, it’s Trixie and Monkey’s Velvet Banana Cabaret!
As Trixie and Monkey opened the show with their duo hosting routine, they immediately pimped the drink specials and offered up toasts to several members of the audience–a brilliant move to get people DRINKING. Certain forms of entertainment are better with booze. Well, most forms of entertainment.
Monkey starts us off with a slide show of his life–quaintly droll, but more hilarious by his effort to macaque his way into the crowd with his slide projector. Then Trixie shows us her flea circus, which is an actual flea circus gambit, complete with super-bad puns for the flea names–Fanny Legstrong, the bicyclist; Fleavil Knievel, the daredevil; and, of course, Dita Von Fleas, “plucked off a crazy horse in Paris” (that’s actually a good, hand-crafted joke) who jumps off Trixie’s nose to splash into a martini glass. Now, settled in and ready for it, Trixie starts the nudity with her “Flea-Scratch Strip,” being itched all over and flecking her way out of her clothes, ending with the reveal of a big ‘ol bush, which she proceeds to comb.
If you’re not getting it yet, you may not–this show is more comedy than striptease, and should be taken as such. It’s a show about BANANAS, man, and if you don’t think bananas are funny, you should probably take that banana out of your ear. Monkey, in red and yellow spandex, does a slow peel–the banana, I mean–and almost gags on it before tossing bites to the audience. He gets a woman in the crowd to bite the banana from his crotch, and then leaves her onstage to throw bites at him in the house–and damn if he doesn’t Gibbon it up by catching banana bites.
But nothing is quite as funny as a random audience member being happily lampooned, and Trixie somehow convinced a woman to not only get onstage to help with her condom PSA, but got her to put it on a banana with her mouth. I’ll bet that she’s never put a condom on with her mouth before–the so-called “Italian method” is actually only very rarely performed by amateurs–which made watching this young lady pull it off–I mean, tug it on–not only erotic but erotically hilarious. It only got better when she was unable to deep-throat it down all the way, and the ever-helpful Trixie coaxed her to side-swipe it, then helping her out on the other side–and yes, that’s two women, tag-team en-condoming (latexifying?) a banana, lips on either side of a yellow erection.
Wait a minute–my notes say that it was the MONKEY who helped the girl put the rubber on. So then I asked Melody, who ALSO remembers that it was girl-on-girl banana action. Well, either my notes were wrong, or more likely, my wife and I are both such pervs that we WANTED to see two girls porn-slurp a banana, and blacked out that, really, the MONKEY DID IT.
Either way, it’s just stupid. And if you don’t love stupid, please take that banana out of your butt.
The hits keep coming. Trixie and Monkey bust their Kama Sutra trapeze act–brilliant, but my previous efforts to describe trapeze have been pretty pathetic, so you’ll just have to come see the show your damn self.
In the second half, Trixie wears a stunning banana dress and Monkey helpfully peels her out of it, working her way into a semi-classic tease with a large yellow boa. I took the op to run upstairs for this act–I’m embarrassed to admit it, but it was our first time in the newly re-opened Slipper Room, and I’ve heard many complaints about how tiny it is and how terrible the sightlines are upstairs. It’s true that you can really only see from the rail upstairs, but the view from there is delightful–as Trixie pulled the boa across her shapely legs, mounted the giant banana, and twirled tassels, I had an aces Colobus view of the goods.
Monkey rounded it out with his BHOF Best Boylesque-winning ballet act.
As a closer, we got the now-classic “Total Eclipse of the Heart” duo acrobatic routine, which I’ve written about several times. (Like this chestnut, from 2008.)
Trixie’s introduction was sort of fantastic–how they’ve done the act a zillion times in so many cities and countries, and still never tire of it. Neither do we. There is something so hard-wired about that song, it elicits such a macabre sentimentalism in spite of ourselves, it’s impossible to NOT be moved. While the actis funny, and sort of silly, as the song reaches its climax and Trixie runs to Monkey and dives, and he catches her in a beautiful lift timed perfectly to the music–it gets me. Brings a tear to my eye every time. It’s… squalid, in the classic sense. It torments and moves you, makes you remember that love is both beautiful and awful, that it destroys as it creates.
What truly puts this show over the edge is the off-the-cuff, next-door-neighbor charmingness of the duo onstage. And yes, I know the proper word here is charm, but I’m sticking to it. My favorite moment of the show was when Trixie addressed the crowd from downstage center, and gave us the answers to their frequently asked questions. I’m summarizing here, but it sounded something like, “People often ask us the same questions, like… ‘Do you still eat bananas?’” A grin moved through the crowd, if that’s possible–not a chuckle, but just a quiet grin as people who hadn’t questioned offstage banana consumption weighed the ramifications of eating several on stage, nightly. Trixie answered, “Yes, we still eat bananas.” And people also ask, “‘Are you really together?’” And then announced that, yes, they are together and have been for a long time, and are now married, which got a sweet “aw” from the crowd that you wouldn’t consider predictable.
When people talk about what they love about burlesque, they say a lot of unsubstantiated shit. You know, like –”it celebrates all body types,” which is the kind of thing said by people blind to ignoring the trend of breast implants that is as widespread now in burlesque as it is in “gentlemen’s” clubs (a recent visit to Rick’s Cabaret on 33rd street netted 2, maybe 3 pairs of augmented breasts out of a possible baker’s dozen–it ain’t the 90s anymore). Or “it’s so empowering”–well, maybe, to the women on stage, if they’re good and get booked often, but not necessarily to all the women in the audience, many of whom still forget that the woman on stage doesn’t really look like that when she hasn’t spent a half hour on her eye makeup. Chicks be seriously self-conscious, even un-empowered, which is fucking obvious if you think about how much Tucker Max has gotten laid. ANYway–
My point is this: One thing I really like about burlesque is the shamelessness and honesty with which recent couples have announced their coupling. I’ve known bartenders who took off their wedding rings before going to work, because, let’s face it, if the suckers on the other side of the bar THINK they have a chance with the smokin’ hot bartender, they’ll tip more, and that they don’t have a chance is inconsequential. The other side of the stage is the same story–gentlemen’s club strippers, burlesquers, gogo dancers at sex parties–all these professions provide a good reason to appear unencumbered. But, fuck it. This crowd doesn’t really give a shit whether or not you scumbags want to get into bed with us or not–hell, if that’s your fantasy, go ahead and have it. But meanwhile, here’s the truth: Trixie onstage, sweetly admitting that she loves her Monkey; Mat Fraser, at a recent Dead Sexy show at Times Scare, baring it all by admitting how happy he was that the next performer, Julie Atlas Muz, had chosen to marry him; and even the Long, Lean Crooner himself, Brian Newman, admitting that for his next guest, Angie Pontani, of all her nicknames and taglines, his favorite is “Mrs. Newman”–I love this shit. It’s awesome that this subculture, in New York, at least, is comfortable embracing their normal-ness, even in the same breath as they invite a room full of strangers to openly ogle and catcall their mostly-naked life partners. If that isn’t confidence, trust, and “empowerment” in the most kinky and self-deprecating kind of way, I don’t know what is.
J.D. Oxblood is co-founder and Editor-in-Tease of BurlesqueBeat.com. His burlesque writing has also been seen in Burlesque Magazine, 21st Century Burlesque and Zelda. His academic work has been seen in Borrowers & Lenders. Follow J.D. Oxblood on twitter.
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