Don’t get me wrong. I have all the respect and admiration in the world for classically trained lady burlesque performers. And as a lady-loving lady, I fully enjoy the art and tease of traditional female acts.
But boylesque? Maybe because it’s a fairly new genre in the burlesque arts, but it seems that there’s more wiggle room (ahem) in terms of gender-bending, and having men or the male-expressed come up with more boundary-pushing ways of showing off their bodies.
Last Friday night. I hadn’t gone to the Teaser Party at Re-Bar the night before, so I had only a fair idea of what to expect. Can you believe I had never seen BenDeLaCreme perform before? She only hosted, but she was every bit as charming and amusing as she was on RuPaul’s Drag Race Season Six. (There’s a reason she won Miss Congeniality that season.) Even though she spoke quickly and seemed nervous, she still had clever turns of phrases and kept the audience upbeat and fully entertained! I had no idea she had roots in burlesque, but I suppose it makes sense considering her stage persona. She made raffle-number calling sound 800-number sexy, to boot.
Thank you to Jen Gapay of Thirsty Girl Productions for scoring me the fabulous Booth 31 at the Triple Door! My seat was completely in the center of the theater, so I had the best sound and view of the stage. The 7pm show was the first that evening, and it looked like there were only a few empty seats.
Folks, boylesquers know how to get the job DONE. Every single act was either strikingly mesmerizing or wickedly hilarious!
Mod Carousel opened with a stunning three-man act involving acrobatics, dance, and of course striptease. There also happened to be more nerdlesque than I could have hoped.
- Tito Bonito, “Teenage Dream.” Batman’s Robin, burlesqueing to the Katy Perry song. Every bit as awesome as you can imagine, because I KNOW all of you have done/heard/seen the years upon years of gay Batman/Robin jokes. Quite the treat!
- Jonny Porkpie brought exactly what I’d expect from a New Yorker: an act involving ironical surprise, with commentary on both his own act as well as the politics of boylesque. Ridiculous fun!
- Iva Handful brought her love of Prince to the stage as she performed in full purple velvet with a tiny glittering piano. She proved once again her love of ’80s music.
- Mr. Gorgeous brought some unique humor to his act; basically he made fun of failing at his own act. The result was unequivocally hilarious!
- On a more serious note, The Luminous Pariah (part of Mod Carousel) did an aviary-costumed, technically precise dance to Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer.” To be honest, if someone had not done NIN, I might have been upset. He had such grace and poise I couldn’t help but recall the early days of Trent Reznor and squee inwardly.
- Another part of Mod Carousel, Paris Original, chose to bring a little drag element to the mix with an instrumental jazzy tune and a red fringe flapper dress. Hail to the 1920s. He looked sublime as he pranced about—the bee’s knees!
- Was anyone else reading this at the show? Can we just chat about how incredibly TALL Izanni was? Like the casting call at the end made it QUITE apparent that they were both easily a foot taller than almost everyone else. Of course, their height made the affianced couple from Portland no less perfect in their aerial act. They brought the most captivating performance of kink/BDSM the audience had probably ever seen. Whips and chains, oh my!
- Serge. French. Dancing with a cube. ‘Nuff said.
- Lou Henry Hoover was the most adorable. She made it apparent that boylesque doesn’t have to be about showing off the male body, but more about expressing what it means the portray varying degrees of masculinity. Her sailor act involved a strip, then a re-donning of the outfit, all while dancing as though her body was made of a viscous liquid hopping in and out of containers.
My personal favorite, however, was Russell Bruner, hailing from Portland. He was *the* personification of vaudeville! Costumed in a bowler hat and pinstriped suit, he danced a classic vaudevillian number with Hoover, then later did a solo act (with a lady helper) where he seemed to have perfected the old Buster Keaton straight face.
Let’s not forget the ending, however! Our dearly beloved Waxie Moon, of…well, Everything Ever closed the night with a bang and a smile to an instrumental medley of intros and bridges, ending in The Beatles’ “Let it Be.” Not to be outdone by anyone, the audience witnessed at least three outfit changes by the last chime of the song. Wink!
I have not laughed so hard or so constantly throughout a stage production in all my life! It struck my brain suddenly (not being trained in the arts) how awe-inspiring it is that the performers have to be supremely comfortable not only with the other dancers, but with their own masculinities and sexualities as well. Stuff like this in Middle ‘Murica just wouldn’t fly…the dancers have to keep their wits about them at all times and possibly face harsh adversity outside the theater. They must have rigorous training, be it mental, physical, or emotional…and be sure not to touch each other’s nether parts. If I may broach a rash generalization here, it may be easier for women to dance with other women, but with men there’s the whole “society has a stick up its ass about two guys touching” thing.
Thank you, Boylesque Fest, for saying “Fuck You” to society.