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Larry Litt


Contemporary Burlesque
A Gigi La Femme & Doc Wasabassco Production
Under St. Marks
94 St. Marks Place, NYC
Reviewed by Larry Litt Sept. 17, 2008

Many years ago I went to see Ann Corio's long running burlesque review, "This Was Burlesque." I was so thrilled and delighted I immediately became a fan of the art and science of striptease with a sense of humor. For me if was just like the poets of stage and screen ask, "How can you keep the boys down on the farm once they've seen real burlesque?" I was a dedicated fan of what, by the 1960s, had become a lesser art form.

Many times while living in Miami Beach I wandered wondering past the now defunct Miami Beach Burlesque Theater. One night I was invited to a bachelor party at that venerable but seedy building. Its secrets were revealed slowly and teasingly onstage. The dancers and comedians were veterans of the pinnacle burlesque era of the 1930's and 40s. They were now grandparents with apparent deep pride in their diminished art. The women were, well what's the best way to put it, past their prime, but still able to provide a witty, titillating show. The geezers in the audience loved them nostalgically. The youngsters loved them as novelty. I in particular loved them because a dancer placed my bald head in between her boobs and whispered, "you're special, I don't do this any more." Whew and double whew with panting!

It was also the costumed burlesque comedians with their innuendos of sex and a bawdy talk society. Looking back they seem almost puritanical. Those old guys were having fun entertaining an audience with ancient dirty jokes right out of joke books. It was a raw and funny show with performers who tried their damnedest to please. From the thunderous, raucous laughter they succeeded mightily.

So that my standard for burlesque. Are the performers having fun and is the audience with them? Naked women performing in public aren't novelties - go to any over priced, high security topless bar. You'll see as many boobs and butts as you want, from all over the world, until you're bored or go into the VIP lounge for a massage.

So what makes "Revealed" different? First and foremost is the youthful energy, irony and faux sophistication of the emvcee of "Revealed," "Bastard Keith." He loves all the ladies, they're all his favorites. And why not? They're all beautiful, sexy, mysterious women who love to expose their dancing and performing skills. Keith kept the audience laughing while creating a rapport for the show girls. His own comedy riffs were timely, topical and brief. Wise when the audience is waiting for girls.

Supposedly the dancers of "Revealed" are an ironic mix of tradition and what is now called Neo-burlesque, a form that parodies its predecessor. But does it really?

If these burlesque performers made social comments on contemporary issues rather than the historical art form, I'd rave about their work. I want to know their opinions and self reflections on their art. Obviously they take it seriously in both a fun and studied manner. We're supposed to play along with them, root them on, but know they're really nice college educated girls with theatrical aspirations.

Except for Gigi la Femme, who is clearly the most outrageous risk taker of all the performers. Her act is a combination of male fantasy and female desires. She transcended the night with concerted actions, wit, and a wild, infectious enthusiasm. She made men blush and women faint with her eroticism. No small feat.

The opening act, Peekaboo Pointe filled the house with an awesome, mysterious silence as she mimed the end of day routine of a beautiful but woman's return to her boarding house. Men stopped breathing, women sighed with lust. Her enigmatic beauty shrouded the audience until Keith broke the silence.

The best campy actress award of the night went to Miss Ruby Valentine, a well known Marilyn Monroe look-a-like. Yet she too was very traditional, not commenting on the life of her character.

Mistress of Animation, Ms Tickle, turned the audience into birdwatchers during her hypnotic flutter of intense movement with feather fans.

If you've dreamed of watching the girl next door grow up to become a burlesque star then Anita Cookie is your reality. Witty, charming, almost wholesome in a Carol Burnett way, Anita asked the audience to watch her eat dessert and then the dessert ate her. Made me hungry for Twinkies.

The one really strange act is dancer Kobayashi Maru. I believes she's commenting on the whole Neo-burlesque scene. She proves anyone can become a burlesque queen, it just takes courage, moves and glitter in the right places.

You can't go wrong at "Revealed" if you're looking for a night of escapist fun and classic entertainment. And you can drink in the theater. Doesn't get much better than that.

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