By J.D. Oxblood
City Winery is a big, fat, wooden room that would make a vacationing couple from Vermont feel very at home. High ceilings smattered with rotating fans, a pervasive blonde woodtone, and a stage so deep you could stack the Rockettes 6-deep and they could still kick. We rolled in around 10 to witness the changing of the guard—upper East Side diners were paying the stiff tabs for their undersized tapas & pricey vino as downtown hoodlums played musical chairs, vying for decent seats as they became available, nestling up to the stage and onto the raised dining area in back. This was a big room … could Doc fill it?
He did, but the sound system didn’t. The PA was lacking, but I quickly forgot about it as the shapely Bird of Paradise came on to warm up the crowd with a little gogo to surf music, in a purple sparkly bra and a short skirt cut on an angle, accentuated with bangles and nude fishnet stockings. Babe-o-licious.
The show kicked off to “Hot Stuff,” with Anita Cookie, Madonna and Britney in stereo. Albert Cadabra announced Harvest Moon in a loud, booming voice… and nothing happened., Gigi LaFemme and Sapphire Jones working a fan dance and sharing a lesbo kiss like
Nice to get the glitches out of the way early. And even nicer to see Gigi, still one of the most gorgeous women in the burlesque scene—seriously, folks, this gam-o-rama queen need take nothing off to turn heads—covering for the fuck-up. She pointed out her cute little onesy and told us that she wasn’t wearing underwear—man, are we easy to titillate—and vamped. Harvest didn’t disappoint, though, losing her red gloves, her red and gold corset, and her red skirt to balance a champagne glass on her head. She got onto the floor and executed “the plough”—all you yoga-mat toting vegans know what I mean—glass still in place on her head—and picked the glass up by pressing her calves together and flipped her whole body over so that she was supine face-down on the floor. Then she did it in reverse and stood up with the glass on her head, finishing with a handstand and the glass in her mouth. Man, I love this girls circus-licious style.
The old, fat couple next to us were still seated stageside. Guess they were swayed by the spectacle, which says a lot about burlesque’s ability to cross the class divide. Service was slow so we started double-ordering Manhattans, and I was grateful to actually be SEATED and have a surface upon which to take notes. Maybe these upscale venues aren’t all bad.
Back to the show: Motherfucking Ruby Valentine. Wow. I mean, is this girl hot or what? Check out these pics Melodie Muddd shot of her and TELL ME she’s not Marilyn-y to the max. Theramin music and a space-age silver outfit with cascading silver cape, flying around the stage and striking lust into the hearts of men and envy in the hearts of women. The night took on a rotating motif of MCs—everyone took their turn. Anita Cookie introduced Johnny Porkpie, and Nasty Canasta—in a stunning floor-length pale blue dress—introduced the new, the luscious, the vulpine Sapphire Jones, who is not an old “S-word” like so many of the other performers. Now, what did Nasty mean by “S-word?” Slut? Stripper? Serial killer? We may never know.
Now I preached the virtues of Sapphire back when Jo Weldon turned her out, and AMEN to Jo for introducing us. Sapphire is so delectable a treat that I… er… Will, could we do an X-rated blog in which I espouse the particular sexual acts that performers’ bodies are especially well-suited for? This is still a family show, right?—and I don’t want to sully our good name. Let’s just say that I know EXACTLY what I’d do to Sapphire if I ever got locked in a coat closet with her for seven minutes following a bull fight.
But looks aren’t everything, and Sapphire blew us away with her high-concept routine: decked out like a bellhop in a pillbox hat, black vest and gloves and—wait for it—a pink tutu, she gave us her best sad face in front of a sign reading “elevator out of order.” She took one glove off—just one—and showed us the label on her panty waist: “Lobby.” Going down, indeed. The jacket hits the ground floor, her pink and black bra above floor buttons stuck to her washboard-tight midsection, moving into a graceful peek-a-boo, holding the single glove over her breasts as she lost the bra—an exploding shower of silver glitter to reveal her pasties, “Down” buttons. Pushing my buttons, dahling. You had me at the Lobby. Not to say that I don’t appreciate the delicate touch of the quim at the finish.
Can I just tell you how much I fucking love Broadway Brassy? I feel like I can’t say it enough. This girl has got pipes and penache, and I’m starting to suspect that she’s super, super young. And every time I see her she teases us a little more—if we keep watching, she just might take it off. She blasted her way through a blistering rendition of “Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean,” casting a spell of elegance laced with decadence, a-la Southern Comfort on the rocks with a splash of Dilaudid.
Porkpie came out to wind down the last act, fondling the purple grapes on the costume of Stage Kitten Sizzle Dizzle, and I had to hold my tongue. Man, once them Manhattans start kickin’ I get more bitchy than a gay man and a 12 year-old girl watchin’. Cue intermission act Maiah, a sway-hipped belly dancer who shared the stage with an equally sexy performer, an 8-foot albino python. I wanted to ask her if she was Burmese or Reticulated, but she acted coy and wouldn’t even give me her digits, just kept sticking her tongue out. [Eds. note: All “trouser snake” references have been deemed juvenile and removed forthwith]
the second act booms with Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady,” as the stage is crowded with ladies in 70s ‘fro wigs doing a spread-leg-shake of a chair act. Could someone please set me straight on the name of this troupe? The credit was read quickly, the performers were new to me, and I was already drunk. That being said, this was ONE. HOT. ACT. The climax had every girl rubbing herself and licking her fingers. Snap.
Anita Cookie is as drunk and as adorable as ever—been awhile since I’ve seen her—and did a slow routine to Patsy Cline, almost fooling us into thinking that she’d take her panties off, but she didn’t. So leave it Gigi La Femme to go all the way, rising from behind a flower bed—prize for biggest proop of the eve—and truly springing for spring, with intricate hand gestures and hypnotic turns up and down the deep stage, stripping to nothing but a pair of silver pasties and hiding—but not all that well, amen—herself behind one lucky some-bitch of a vine. Gigi, as Louis Jordan once said, has got class she ain’t even used yet.
Albert Cadabra gave us a great audience participation act; a cheap force of a card trick executed brilliantly, leading the not-so-innocent blonde rube to actually try to stuff her hand down his pants to retrieve her card. Instead, he reached into his own pants and pulled out a gopher, a pack of Mentos, a string of flags, and, finally, a strip of cards that were all hers. Fucking fantastic, Albert. Oh, and did I mention that he took his shirt off? Whoa. A girl at the table next to mine whispered to her friend, “If onlyhad a body like that.”
Nasty Canasta brought it home with her pink furry routine, previously discussed on these pages. And Nasty, please don’t read any negative into the previous line—I LIKE to see routines for the second, third and fifteenth times, because then I can stop paying attention and just WATCH. Love that act, love your originality, love your killin’ body.
And for the last surprise of the evening, as if we didn’t love Gigi enough already, she can fucking SING. The duet with Anita, “Thank Heaven for Little Girls,” said it all.
So what’s up, Doc? You got us all spoiled out in Brooklyn, what with Monday Night Burlesque always weighing in at 3 hours for a $10-buck entrance, and this show was barely an hour & forty, with an intermission. What’s up with that? Do I think the show was fanfuckingtastic and a cheap deal at ten bones? Yes. But you can’t seduce me with full service and then expect me to get used to mere handiwork, dig? There is a specific arc to an evening of burlesque, and it mimics the rising drunkenness of the crowd. Early on, everone’s sober, the reactions are muted, people need to loosen up. After an hour or so we start to catch up with the performers, and by an hour and a half, everyone’s on the same page and the room is bouncing with booze and sexual intensity. THAT’S when the night starts to roll. The evening needed to go on a little longer….
So we went to the Slipper Room, but the show was over. The next day I woke up and berated myself for forgetting that the love of my life was performing at Duane Park with Brian Newman. Sorry, Helen. I totally suck.
But not as bad as that uptight bitch of a python. I bet she wasn’t even a constrictor.
Photos courtesy of Miss Melodie Muddd