New York Burlesque Festival 2016: Thursday Night Hangover Highlights

Jen Gapay and Angie Pontani onstage at the 2016 New York Burlesque Festival Thursday night show at The Bell House. Photo: Don Spiro

Jen Gapay and Angie Pontani, photo: Don Spiro


When Burlesque Beat Editor-in-Chief Melody Mudd (have you seen her new haircut?) dubbed my next-day BHOF missives “Hangover Highlights,” many assumed it was a riff on the state of the readers—but New Yorkers know what it’s really about. And few days on the calendar year are as predictable as this one: the day after Thursday night’s New York Burlesque Festival teaser party. Remember, Mel Huckabee? Tecates in the front bar? Last night was no exception—and who was that DJ last night? #FuckingGreat. I still have the Mary Jane Girls’ “My House” in my head—with an image of Francine straight-up cutting a rug.

I came in just before intermission, just in time to see Gigi BonBon basically body-shaming everybody by showing them hers. I mean, Jesus, stop it—we’re just gonna go home and cut ourselves. Sadly, I’d just missed Baltimore’s Kay Sera—legendary fairy godmother for anyone who habituates BHOF—although a trusted friend noted she showed fierce commitment in the eyes. Candy Applebottom (aptly named) and Aemon Well-hung (we assume likewise) did a hilarious duo reenacting “Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” where he found a vibrator in her picnic basket and a pleasant pas de deux degraded into fetishistic play and well-placed breadsticks. This would be foreshadowing, to Johnny Porkpie getting flogged and pegged by none other than Jo Weldon. Like I keep asking—when is that sex tape gonna leak? (We’re still waiting on the Rachel Weisz/Daniel Craig.)  


Johnny Porkpie and Jo Boobs performing at the 2016 New York Burlesque Festival Thursday night show at The Bell House.

Johnny Porkpie and Jo Boobs


Any talk of standouts has to start with Sizzle Dizzle, to whom I could only ask, What’s wrong with you? And I mean that in the most wonderful way, as she gave us what can only be called geriatric porn. Wait, I had something for this: Granny drag. Short grey wig, doing the hoedown to “Cotton-Eyed Joe,” and pulling the old lady face—really, such an expressive face. And somehow ending with a skunk pelt, which I don’t understand, but love. Is that a skunky vajine joke?

They say the sense of smell is the closest tie to memory, and some smells you can’t shake: the smell of the old bathrooms at Lit Lounge, the smell of the old bathrooms at Trash Bar, the smell of the old bathrooms at the old Slipper Room… and the smell of some of the patrons at the Bell House last night. Dudes, it’s late September—Burning Man is over!


Sizzle Dizzle performing at the 2016 New York Burlesque Festival Thursday night show at The Bell House.

Sizzle Dizzle


Fortunately, there was Boo Boo Darlin, who smelled ah-maze-ing. And looked delicious, in creamsicle colors, decked out like a crawfish with antennae, eyes, and a plump, plump tail. You know the music, you know the kitchy half-steps, and just when you’re about to nod and say, yeah, that’s a retro burlesque act, the needle drops and “Back That Ass” bumps, and Boo Boo*—who’s slipped into some gold sneakers, MFer—is bumpin it and rubbing her tail. You’d hit that, even if you were allergic to shellfish.


Vaudeville Vixens performing at the 2016 New York Burlesque Festival Thursday night show at The Bell House.

Vaudeville Vixens


And as the Tecates started going down way too easy, Gin Minsky was—as ever—gorgeous and killing it. The Great Dubini did a wickedly fun Jesus act, rocking a crown of thorns and a kipa, walking on water (which he poured on the stage) and turning water into wine, to—wait for it—”Personal Jesus.” (Dubini: Try it with Johnny Cash’s cover. Just try it, I could be wrong.) We got a lovely fan act from the gorgeous Fanny Damour, and the pleasing pageantry of San Diego’s The Vaudeville Vixens, spinning spiralled parasols and showing off a perfect pantheon of ass. Those ladies have really nice asses, if you’re into that kind of thing. (I’m into that kind of thing.) Speaking of, in an act structured like Boo Boo’s—classic and then suddenly kablammo—Bettina May shook her ass nonstop for minutes on end, an act reminiscent of Michelle L’Amour’s famous “backing up” act, only forwards. And, she cut from “Diamonds are Forever” to Chingy’s “Diamonds,” a clever crossfade for the DJ nerds.

In a true climax, Akynos brought two other women onstage with her—sporting black T-shirts with “No to Trump” on one side and “Say Her Name” on the other. And brought the house. Down. with unison choreo and wicked, unleashed attitude, Akynos lip-syncing Beyonce’s “Formation” like she wrote the joint. I’d like to see that again.


Akynos performing at the 2016 New York Burlesque Festival Thursday night show at The Bell House.



Stay tuned! The weekend is just getting started. Lola Frost and Melody Mangler just left town—which I don’t understand—but there’s plenty to look forward to. Boo Bess is making her NYBF debut—which I don’t understand—and Sapphire Jones promises to do an act about food. Which I do understand. Some things still make sense in this weird world.

Like hugging good people. I saw so many wonderful people last night whom I don’t see often enough, and all of the conversations were about good times and good memories made on the blurry sidelines of nights like last night—sloppy decisions, good jokes, great outfits. In good times and bad. It’s heartwarming. And it’s a great reminder: we’re all gonna die, people, so let’s make sure to enjoy this life, and enjoy our time together.



*You can track people by their musical choices: Boo Boo just loves Juvenile. We first saw her rock the New York Burlesque Festival stage on Golden Pasties night, to a sped-up remix of “Slow Motion.” #nerd.

Check out all our coverage of the New York Burlesque Festival throughout the years.

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All photos ©Melody Mudd unless otherwise noted, 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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