Friday, December 9, 2011

Back Bar Beauties Burlesque

One of Seattle’s newest troupes, Back Bar Beauties Burlesque, is attempting a new approach to building their audience base. Their holiday show is playing three nights in three different bars, and three different neighborhoods. Last night this gypsy troupe of burlesque performers was at Sonya’s Skyy Lounge in Downtown Seattle. I am a big fan of the traveling show format.  Some of my best experiences as an actor have been with such shows, so I am excited to see a troupe embracing this in the burlesque community.

I applaud the Beauties’ for this concept and the guts to go this route with their shows.  It is hard work and creatively very challenging.  I do want to caution them that they are going to need to ramp up their game if the troupe is going to have staying power.

Individually the acts were all pretty solid, aside from feeling a bit cramped (Sonya’s back bar has a tiny little stage), but as a collection the show felt a bit… lackluster. At first glance the show seems pretty varied. Laela Lovechild’s tap dance routine was high energy and spirited, and I was impressed by her choreography. Tin Pan Sally and Olatsa Assin’s musical theatre themed acts added a lovely element of vocal performance to the show; and Tin Pany Sally's Misery themed piece was pretty darn funny. Madisun Avenue’s wind up doll was a beautiful and fun take on the classic Nutcracker’s Columbine, and Donatella Melies engaged the entire audience with her Christmas tree act. All of this was great!

Where the show lost me was that despite the apparent variety, nearly everything ended the same, followed the same arc of the tease, and honestly there wasn’t enough teasing in the show for me. Stripping and baring a beautiful body is all well and good, but I wanted so much more from these lovelies. I wanted more power on the stage, more confidence, more sensuality. I wanted more costume, more pieces to remove. I wanted more spectacle, perhaps a touch of pageantry.

My final critique is that the group act felt superfluous. It neither introduced something new nor topped what was previously seen. As a finale it kind of dragged. As an encore however it would have worked fairly well. My advice to the ladies of BBBB is to switch the order of curtain call and your group act.

All of this boils down to the structuring of the show. A good burlesque show is itself a burlesque act. There should be an arc, a tease, and a solid finish. The audience should want more but feel satisfied at the same time. This takes practices, trial and error and flexibility to switch things up and if this group sticks with it I think they’ll put together some really fun collections.

Back Bar Beauties Burlesque, with Laela Lovechild, Olatsa Assin, Donatella Melies, Madisun Avenue and Tin Pan Sally, has one more performance of their holiday show coming up at Coppergate in Ballard, December 18th. Help support this troupe and give them some love and encouragement. There is potential here!


Fosse Jack

PS: If you continue to use the personable and lovely Miss Anita Goodman as your hostess, remember that Anita is the ‘eye of a hurricane’, the calm within a storm.  Don't be afraid to bump it up a notch to provide a stronger contrast with your emcee!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Upcoming Show: Christmas Stockings

I am the proud brother of a United States Marine. My brother has been an anchor of support for me, accepting me as gay when the larger part of my family has not been able to accept that part of my life. He is clueless of course as to how same-sex relationship work and I have to say I laughed really hard when he asked me if I was the “man” or the “woman” in the relationship, but that aside I cannot begin to fully express my gratitude for him personally or my pride in what he does.

I cannot agree or be happy with many of the choices the US government has made over my lifetime or is still making, but I will continue to lend my emotional and vocal support to the men and women who serve in the Armed Forces. Now I get to help out with more!

Seattle’s Miss Kitty Baby (also a US Marine!) and her Pinup Angels are having their holiday show fundraiser to help raise money for care packages which they will send to US Troops the world over. The show, Christmas Stockings will be held at The Rendezvous on December 17th with a performance at 7:00pm and a second at 8:30pm. The lineup is super sexy and will include Miss Kitty Baby, Lucky Penny and Tamara the Trapeze Lady among others!

I would love to encourage all of you to add Christmas Stockings to your holiday show list (I know there are a lot!) because the cause is a really good one. Whether you agree with government policy or more likely do not, I know that my burlesque comrades won’t be able to say no to supporting the offering of sexy cheesecake and goodies to stressed out men and women!

Help ensure some Angels’ ears will ring and come to Christmas Stockings.

The Pinup Angels present Christmas Stockings: A Burlesque and Cabaret Fundraiser featuring an all-star cast of Seattle talent. All proceeds will benefit our care package fund to send morale to our deployed troops.

Dec 17, 2011 TWO SHOWS!
7:00 PM & 8:30 PM
$15 Advance... $20 DOS
Get Tickets Here!

Fosse Jack

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bootleg Burlesque, Top Shelf Burlesque at Recession Proof Prices

Last night at Happy Ending Urban Mercantile, a store front repurposed for the evening as a performance venue, hosted a theatrical throwback to burlesque’s fringe origins in Seattle. The show, Bootleg Burlesque, produced by Solange Corbeau and Flirty Sanchez, paid homage to prohibition era entertainment and depression era values … doing taboo things on the cheap.

There were two rules that every performer had to follow. 1) They could not spend more than $50 on a costume (which is a feat to be sure!) and 2) any pieces they repurposed or borrowed could have never been used as part of a burlesque act before. So this group of artists stretched the limits of their creativity to create acts that were both visually entertaining AND inexpensively fashioned, and despite these limitations they all succeeded.

The venue itself presented both challenges opportunity. The size of the performance space was a hindrance, and more than once I was afraid a performer was going to crash into one of the nearby pieces of furniture or the audience. Being space conscious myself, it was not a venue I would have felt comfortable performing in, for the sheer fact that from the wall to the audiences’ noses I wouldn’t be able to extend my 6’4” wingspan (damn lanky limbs). As for the audience, I was fortunate to have a good seat and even I lost sight of the performers from time to time. If the producers are going to continue producing here they will need to either reformat the staging or lower the ticket price. The front row had a $15 view, but most everyone else ended up just a little cheated.

That being said if the producers reconsider the staging (perhaps consider doing a floor show in the round?) the space offers some amazing opportunities that almost make up for the disadvantages.

Last night Bootleg Burlesque allowed Seattle burlesque performers to break the last major taboos of our performance community. In an alcohol free venue the legality surrounding nudity is loosened and the removal of a pasty becomes the final reveal that Seattle audiences have yet to experience. I am glad that most of the performers retained their nipple coverings, because it made the couple of times where nipple was bared all the more powerful and sexy.

The cast of performers never failed to impress.

Hostess Diva Le Deviant was in her element in this intimate space, and wearing little save $50 (seriously she had $20s for pasties and a pair of $5s as a merkin!) she titillated the audience with her unique blend of elegance, class and over-sexed bawdy humor. Diva darling, you are a Tigress among future-Cougars.

Musical artist Sara Dippity serenaded us during the pre-show and intermission with some beautifully sung, sultry jazz pieces. It is hard work to entertain an antsy audience during their break, and it can be thankless but Sara took it all in stride and I very much appreciated her performances.

Polly Wood opened the show with her blend of classic bump and grind, silver-screen inspired storylines and musical theatre camp. I love it when a burlesque act tells a clear story and Polly is one of the best storytellers in the art form.

Harriet Scary followed Polly. Harriet is what happens when you take a performance artist, lock them in a dark room and starve it. Than after a couple of weeks you unleash it into a flock of captive audience members. I mean this as both a compliment to the artist and a warning to any future audiences that get to experience this off kilter trany-wreck.

The next performer was new to me, but I will have to say that he can join the trio of plushy-pals on my bed anytime. Gosh I could snuggle with Teddy Bare for hours. Teddy’s act was short, sweet and funny, and he had a mastery of comic self-consciousness that few artists can affect with any level of truthfulness. I hope to see more of him in the future.

Solange Corbeau entertained us with her love of whiskey (which is a real and very romantic thing… I’ve heard her discuss this passion before), in a solid piece of moonshiner comedy.  Her opening was the funniest thing of the night, I love it when a performer can make me laugh by doing 'nothing.'

Another performer new to me was the first act closer, Fanny Tragic. With my brief experience of this performer I feel confident in saying that Fanny is the love child Lucille Ball and the Clown from It. There was a little too much time between the first and second parts of her act but the audience seemed to be entertained enough to allow it, so I will too.

The second act was opened one of my favorite camp-artists, Lady Tatas. Tatas performed her Dimestore Diamond act with finesse and flare. Her costume was also the most creatively crafted, using trash bags, beads and other mundane objects to create a rather dazzling show girl ensemble. Lovely.

Watching Madisun Avenue perform is like watching the collision of a group of gossamer clad coryphées in slow motion. She is graceful, limber and mesmerizing. Her three part act structure is also refreshing allowing the audience to bask in her presence for longer than a single song.

Olatsa Assin packs a lot of attitude into her petite frame and her number last night embraced that attitude. I would have liked the act to go for a little longer, because two minutes of Olatsa just isn’t enough. I haven’t seen anyone tie a tie in a reverse strip yet. Hint. Hint.

Flirty Sanchez embraced the repressed energy of Prohibition Era and the drive and passion of the coinciding Suffrage movement in an act done to spoken word poetry. It was fascinating and I couldn’t help but compare Flirty to Catherine Hepburn as her regal presence captivated me. Normally such an act, that is one without a strong musical anchor, would have lost the audience pretty quickly but Flirty commanded them and they obeyed. Brava.

Randi Rascal was the final performer of the night, and her performance will have a lasting impression on me. Like Flirty, Randi used minimalistic movement to convey her message. But while Flirty’s motivation was to simply express the truth, Randi’s was to actively dominate her audience and that she did well. Randi’s reveal of a single bare nipple was terribly sexy, but it was the appearance of a whiskey flask hidden somewhere upon her nearly naked person that brought the house down. She pulled WHAT our or her WHAT? Seriously yo, that was some sexy sh!t.

Last night the performers brought game to a playing field that was far from ideal and they rocked it. I’d like to applaud each of you, and look forward to seeing more of this kind of awesomeness in the future.


Fosse Jack