New York Burlesque Festival 2015: The Brooklyn Bowl Bash

Albert Cadabra performing at the New York Burlesque Festival 2015 Friday night premiere party at Brooklyn Bowl.

September 25th, 2015

Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn

What an incredible weekend!  It’s taken me two full days to recover from all the glittery festivities and catch up to the pace that JD and Melody have set for me. [It’s taken us two full weeks to keep up with our own pace! —Ed.] I’m one of those total newbs JD was talking about. This is only my second New York Burlesque Festival, so I’m still wide-eyed and full of wonder at the magic that burlesque is, was and can be.  I’m pretty grateful for the opportunity to share my burlesque thoughts and dreams with you guys. And with that, here are my highlights of Friday night’s premiere party.

Cunio rocked the Brooklyn Bowl stage with amazing, high energy covers and an incredible range. I got to watch them from the front row and they definitely gained (at least one) new fan.  The night kept getting better as the go-go dancers shared the stage with Cunio for a few songs. After their set, the mic was passed to another bald man, a running gag, and Albert Cadabra took his place as the night’s host. He looked like the rockstar he is, crowd surfing and belting Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker.”  Albert kept the pace and energy up all night and talked to the audience like familiar old friends. Maybe because half of them were.  I’ve got to say, as a total magic geek, I was hoping he had a trick or two up his sleeve. Alas, he did not. But shout out to DJ Momotaro who audibly accented Albert’s quips perfectly.

Coney Bow performing at the New York Burlesque Festival 2015 Friday night premiere party at Brooklyn Bowl.

Coney Bow

Opening the show was Coney Bow with a chair dance and costume reminiscent of Tinkerbell that gave us a tiny taste of the sparkle that was to come. With fifteen of twenty five performers being NYC locals, it’s a nice change to be able to see examples of burlesque around the world. I wonder how many other New Zealand performers applied to the fest this year.

And then there was Tansy. Oh my, Tansy. Much like this year’s Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend, Tansy owned the night and did an act that will have people talking for weeks to come. Her tribute to burlesque legend Dee Milo and her now infamous red dress was elegant, poignant and riveting. (If you don’t know the story of Dee Milo’s dress, look it up!) Tansy is both a strong actor and a strong dancer and it’s great to see her talent and classically beautiful flesh being displayed on the stage.

Tansy performing at the New York Burlesque Festival 2015 Friday night premiere party at Brooklyn Bowl.


The Slaughterhouse Sweethearts, out of Boston, did an innovative zombie number. Now I know the words innovative and zombie are nearly oxymorons at this point, but this trio brought new life to the concept. They made great use of the space, with two members crawling out of the audience and onto the stage. They had a clear story, great costumes, well rehearsed dancing, sexual chemistry and they made me laugh—everything I love most in a burlesque act. [Dead] girls after my own heart.

Cassandra Rosebeetle delivered some beautiful imagery in a head-to-toe white veil, and not much else but a wedding ring. What her jilted bride story lacked in context, it made up for in powerful eye contact and body writhing. She is such a dynamic character on stage, I’d like to see more from her.

Cassandra Rosebeetle performing at the New York Burlesque Festival 2015 Friday night premiere party at Brooklyn Bowl.

Cassandra Rosebeetle

I hate to say it, but I was disappointed in what the ladies of The Ruby Review brought to Friday night. They did a tightly choreographed dance routine to Lady Gaga’s “Teeth” in pretty standard, out-of-the-package nurse costumes. There were no dental references, no rubber glove snap, no vagina dentata, none of the things that could have made the act interesting… just a single glove peel. I’m usually a big fan of their work, but this act left a lot to be desired.

Gogo Harder, whose reputation preceeds him, burlesqued the classic porn trope of a pizza delivery boy. He made great use of his props, a spinning pizza pie with a detachable slice and crust, and something that can only be described as dick cheese. He served up attention to detail all the way down to his crystalled kicks. He was a lot of fun to watch.

Gogo Harder performing at the New York Burlesque Festival 2015 Friday night premiere party at Brooklyn Bowl.

Gogo Harder

Other highlights include: Always the crowd pleaser, Chris McDaniel and his 40-foot rope and Sheriff badge pasties. Shelbelle Shamrock who  put a  new spin on vintage with an 80’s break dancing bit to Bell Biv Devoe’s “Poison.” It was nice to see the Texan’s personality shine through in the act. Nikita Bitch Project, with her silly and adorable ode to Godzilla; Ivory Fox showing off her insane amount of strength and skill on an aerial pole: she did the whole thing dressed in all black without a Swarovski in sight and it blew the audience away. Nona Narcisse and her “Cousin It” inspired fringe cracked me up which she managed to do with most of her face hidden.  Calamity Chang did some serious hair work that could only be fully appreciated from the first few rows. The Varsity Interpretive Dance Squad delivered laugh after laugh with their very lyrical, very silly pop music dance mix. They even picked up after themselves!

Chris McDaniel performing at the New York Burlesque Festival 2015 Friday night premiere party at Brooklyn Bowl.

Chris McDaniel

And closing out the epic night is the equally epic and gargantuan Mr. Gorgeous. It’s really hard not to be biased when it comes to Gorgeous because aside from being a genius performer, he’s a genuinely great person. He could probably rub bird crap all over himself and I’d still rave about him. Actually, that’s exactly what he did and here I am raving. Mr. Gorgeous, in true form, brought his signature style and ridiculous charm to his parrot act. He’s expressive, engaging and he knows how to laugh at himself. Ok, I’ll stop. I’m swooning. But boy, was that a great show. I can’t wait to tell you what happened on Sunday

Check out all our New York Burlesque Festival coverage.

All photos ©Allen Lee and used here with express permission 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. All other requests please contact us to acquire permission.

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