Burlesque Hall of Fame 2015 Hangover Highlights:
Movers, Shakers and Innovators Showcase
Your Hair of the Dog for Friday morning
[Full show coverage and photos by Photolena to come—Ed.]
Thursday, June 4, 2015
Orleans Showroom, Las Vegas
“I believe everything I see onstage.”—Blanche Debris
Welcome home. We all missed you—it’s been too long. We all got super dressed up for you, and can’t wait to embrace you, to kiss your face. We want to hear all about the good news in your life, and if need be we’ll hold you while you cry. We know; it’s hard out there for those who are different. But you’re home now, and we’re so excited to spend a long weekend with you just getting dressed up, getting undressed, and chatting and drinking and splashing in a pool. Welcome home.
That’s what it feels like to get back to the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend, and if you’re reading this from anywhere but the Orleans, we miss you too.
The official kickoff—not counting the VIP party for sponsors, casual outings to Absinthe, catching up with friends at the Alligator bar, or the Finishing School’s title holder panel on why title holders should be invited back to perform at BHOF—was last night’s Movers, Shakers and Innovators show back in the Orleans Showroom. And back in the loving arms of hosts Blanche Debris and Jonny Porkpie, who rub against each other like a feather boa and a well-worn velvet jacket—snuggly and with just the right amount of static electricity.
Iva Handful opened the show—and the entire weekend—with force and brio, proving that the most challenging post position can indeed be an opportunity. She brought a fully-curated DJ set that ran the gamut from Mozart through the old-school techno Carmina Burana to “Rock Me Amadeus,” and stripped from a stage-stealing-sized dress to a crinoline draped with what looked like shimmery black chain mail, and finally to the skeletal crinoline itself, spinning animalistically under strobelight.
On the opposite end of the aesthetic spectrum, April O’Peel turned in yet another gem of ridiculosity as a janitor mopping to BTO’s “TCB.” She falls for her mop, bursts out of her overalls, marries the mop and goes episodic: having his baby (a toilet brush), catching the mop in bed with a broom. Seeing her bite off a yellow rubber glove was almost enough on its own. Blanche Debris: “A broom? She can do better.”
Harvest Moon and Jason Mejias as Aero Trapeze presented in an emo rock-star look to Yael Naim’s moody, desolate cover of Britney’s “Toxic,” the duo climbing onto the trap as if crawling back into a dream. The piece built up to a series of off-axis holds, first him holding her off-kilter and slowly turning her, including holds with a single arm, and then Harvest holding him with a foot, slowly turning him. A firmly sensual piece with holds seemingly inspired by Gravity Plays Favorites, a very strong showing indeed.
In new wonderful weirdness from Japan, the Nikita Bitch Project. We’ve all seen full-body animal costume acts (done to death), but she truly burlesqued the form, entering as Godzilla in a jerky monster style, getting depressed, and then bouncing up to a poppy jazz-dance choreo style to Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” stripping to just Godzilla head and feet, and ditching the head when she couldn’t get her “GoGo Godzilla” T-shirt off over it. Fun stuff, with a “back to work” ribbon-tongue coda.
Bazuka Joe strode on in traditional Thai regalia in full Crouching Tiger quick-small-step mode taking threatening martial-arts poses to a thunderous drum rumble. He took up two tiny fans and managed to use the feminine tools masculinely, almost as weapons. A strong meditative act, and the audience responded heartily.
The evening also included a sensual turn from Paco Fish, and what could have been a companion piece by San Francisco transplant Sugar Cane, a leggy creature doing intricate floorwork reminiscent of Perle Noire, with a ballsy belly-flop to a slide onto the stage. New mom Cherrry On Top appeared in a big hoop skirt that transformed into a spaceman jumpsuit, with the always-alluring move of adding clothes mid-act. Lando Blaze and Narcissa presented a scarf-juggling duet—“Scarfnado”—Porkpie said it belonged in the category of “stupid-lesque”—that was a true crowd-pleaser, a Barry Manilow schmaltz-romp.
San Francisco’s Fishnet Follies presented a fully-staged tale about victory-party girls turning the tables on a team of burglars, with a suggestive set including a door, and while there’s definitely talent there, the focus of the overall piece was scattered—you didn’t know where to look. I’d like to see this act again with more careful staging appropriate for the scale.
And I’ll probably catch hell for saying it, but Mr. Gorgeous’ stepdown seemed like a step down from his usual fare, in a human cannonball act that didn’t quite jell narratively—but, of course, was carried off with his ever-present charm and paradoxical bashfulness. Oh, and that BOD.
The unmistakable barnstormer of the evening—and the only full-scale, roof-rattling standing ovation—came from New York’s Tansy with newcomer Leon Lightfoot (name not yet in cement), who works with Pilobolus.
Tansy, who debuted in 2012 with a solid act that didn’t quite translate to the larger stage of the Orleans Showcase (the “postage stamp” cliché about New York venues is only a slight exaggeration), clearly took that lesson to the bank when conceiving this lion tamer act, which used the stage like a whip uses flesh. Tansy entered in a giant lion-tamer coat and top hat, sweeping the coat dramatically, gathering energy hungrily. The track was “Primitive,” Richard Vission vs. Luciana, a big, industrial sonic battering ram that filled the stage as well as the performers did. In a quick reveal, she opened the coat enough to show off her spanking shorts, eliciting whoops from the crowd. As the curtain rose behind her she turned to it, and turned back to seemingly release a lion from the depths of her coat, who savagely rushed the lip of the stage. Tansy tamed the beast, snuggling it to her, offering treats and getting the big cat to do tricks—jumping Tigger-ishly, riding him—before he stripped her out of her outfit. The lion jumped over her into a somersault, rolled back to flip her up on top of his shoulder, and she sat atop him, twirling her tassels.
This is nothing like anything we’ve seen from Tansy before, which is about the strongest compliment you can give to a performer and the reason we’re all fucking here.
I gotta get in the shower because I’m being interviewed in about an hour by Tigger at the Kiki. You should come—because he’ll also be chatting with legendary photographer Don Spiro and Legend Marinka. You should really come and see Marinka.
AND DON’T FORGET—tonight’s Legend’s show starts at SEVEN O’CLOCK, so don’t piss *BOB* off. Again.
Care to comment? Don’t be shy. Leave your opinions below. And check out all our BHOF coverage to date.
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