September 27, 2015
Highline Ballroom, NYC
Sunday night at the New York Burlesque Festival can only mean one thing: the sheer creative craziness that is the Golden Pastie Awards. I love the irony of dressing up for a night at the swanky Highline Ballroom to see not only some freakin’ awesome burlesque, but also to see the community vote on and award their peers large glittering pasties for categories such as The Olivia Pope Award for the most scandalous performer in burlesque (congrats Burlesque Beat team-mate Dangrrr Doll), the Testy Tummy Award for the performer who faces the most challenges while eating on the road (congrats Minnie Tonka) and the “Huh” Award for the performer most skilled at leaving the audience unsure of what they just witnessed (kudos Tiger Bay).
If you’ve never seen Scotty the Blue Bunny—which I hadn’t until this day—you have no idea what fantastic angst you’re missing. Yes, he’s big, he’s blue, and he wears killer heels. And he did an amazing job emceeing, not only introducing acts, but dealing with the awards, which apparently were sealed in bunny-proof envelopes.
There was a wide gamut of burlesque—from Bettie Blackheart’s beautifully costumed and multi-layered saloon girl to Medianoche’s sparkling butterfly act (which had the most awesome headpiece), to Lucy Sky Diamond’s classic pin-up beauty in that gorgeous tiger print dress—mrowr. And when you finally have a chance to see Nasty Canasta make a martini with her butt, you know you’re going to be asking for them that way at the bar from then on because… awesome. I had a chance to see Ben Franklin do a hoop act at last year’s NYBF and it was great to see him do one again at the Golden Pasties. And although the Big Ben projection added to the storyline, it made it harder to actually see the hoop work, just sayin’.
Peekaboo Pointe as always reminded us of why she’s such a beautiful and classic performer, coming out in just a fur wrap of royal design and teasing us with one naked body part or another before her final stunning pose. And Lou Henry Hoover, I don’t know where you come up with all your amazing character ideas, but your merman act was fabulous right down to the conch shell jock. I’ve come to admire Matt Knife’s creative quirkiness and his interpretation of the honey badger, complete with nature voiceover (“honey badger don’t give a shit”) was truly brilliant.
If you ever wondered what a truly disinterested ballerina would look like, Miss Cairo’s act perfectly personified a blasé diva from slouching on pointe to almost falling over when taking off her stockings. Loved it so much!!! Of course if you ever wondered what a burlesque performer with a conjoined twin would look like—well, Kay Sera had that one covered with the (movable—shvrrr!) little feet sticking out from her belly and her back.
The XO Sisters brought a little romance to the stage with a song and story about the love between a pineapple and a coconut (and their mutant offspring). Then there was the large yellow bird in the form of Lady Francesca strutting across the stage, with a tail full of billowing feathers, ending up in a tub full of glitter and rubber duckies as pasties. The majestic Raquel Reed is someone that I have been dying to see and finally had the chance the Golden Pasties. She did not disappoint with the most gorgeous and glittery costume and headpiece and silky wings that she expertly maneuvered across the stage.
The most emotional moment of the evening for me was watching ÜlaÜberbusen’s performance as a glittered up, perfectly coiffed and dressed, bleach blonde beauty queen who kept revealing body shaming and bullying words written all over her body as she did her striptease. This really hit close to home, and watching her up there, mask in place, trying to recover from “stupid” and “worthless” and “fat” was tough but empowering in the end. On the flipside, one of the most comical acts of the evening was Cherie Nuit’s dumbstruck tourist—khaki knee length shorts, tacky shirt, visor, fanny pack—who sported large tourist maps as her fans. Ingenious!!
I have to give a big, sexy thank you to Sunny Sighed & Bal’d Lightening for making me appreciate all the different and beautiful words out there for our body nasties—especially “hoo-ha”—which sounded so classic when sung operatically. And finally, FINALLY, I got to see the Schlep Sisters’ fantastic Schlep-A-Con, I Feel for Jews act. And watching Minnie Tonka and Darlinda Just Darlinda in their gold and blue sequined pant suits dancing to that 80s groove had me reliving my teens—magical!
The evening would have been perfect… but for the lighting, a simple request for next year: lay off the pulsating, super bright white, right into the audience lighting. I’m not asking as just a photographer but also as someone who doesn’t want to go blind or have a seizure. ‘Nuf said. Otherwise—thanks for the awesome evening Angie, Jen, Melody and JD. The seats were awesome and the company even better.