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Let’s do the time warp again! And by “time warp” I mean warping to an alternate universe about six months from now when the Nouveau Burlesque, downtown New York’s indigenous revival of the Great 20th Century American Burlesque, opens on The Great White Way. Now, this is an alternate universe, so it looks similar, but it is not identical to our own. In this alternate universe, some greats of our contemporary scene have different names and different histories: Jo Boobs is still the boss, but the alternate Boobs is still partying like it’s 1979. The famous, gritty theater where it all goes down is either The Box or the Slipper Room crossed with the Minsky’s National Winter Garden Theater, circa 1925, and the beautiful ingénue isn’t a brainy, erudite Fordham grad, she’s an NYU doctoral student writing a thesis on alternative gender performance, circa 1995.

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One fine afternoon in the early 00’s, after having consumed several beers, two hot dogs, and probably as many cheese burgers at the Gowanus Yacht Club, my companion and I stumbled down Union Street headed East to Park Slope. After we passed the canal I saw the following graffito on the side of a building: “Go anus”. Someone had done a reverse Letter Man and taken the “w”.

The canal itself has never been pleasant. One source says “The opaqueness of the Gowanus water obstructs sunlight to one third of the six feet needed for aquatic plant growth. Rising gas bubbles betray the decomposition of sewage sludge that on a ripe, warm day produces the canal’s notable stench.” The environs around it aren’t much better. After you pass Hoyt headed East, the nice front yards and townhouses of Carroll Gardens give place to many warehouses and factories, many of which appear abandoned. It was in one such abandoned warehouse turned crackin’ night spot — The Green Building — that my date and I caught Michael Arenella‘s Winter Ball last Saturday night.

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The Minsky Sisters ~ photo by Erin Patrice O'Brien

The Minsky Sisters have been on our radar for some time, so we asked them to tell us about themselves.

CC: We’re here with Jen and Kristen, the Minsky Sisters! Hello!

Jen: Hello!

Kristen: Hello!

CC: When did you guys get your act together, so to speak?

Jen: We’ve been performing together for several years but Minsky sisters became a thing July 2008. Our friend Shien Lee, the producer of Dances of Vice, asked us if we would do a tap number. Both of us have been dancing for most of our lives. And we didn’t have a name, we were just ourselves. We didn’t have an identity, and we performed just thinking we were gonna do just one dance and that was going to be it. But people really liked us and we started getting asked to perform at other venues, not just Dances of Vice, and we thought, OK, I guess we’re a thing now — an act. So we got a name.

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This Friday, November 6th, check out the glorious return of This Is Burlesque with The Pontani Sisters and Murray Hill!

Cultural Capitol talked to Angie Pontani about the new space and the new show. “The new space is fantastic,” she told us. The stage is upstairs at Sweet Carolines on West 45th between 8th and 9th Avenues. “It has a much larger stage and better sight lines for the audience, yet it maintains the intimate style of Corio.  We are also pretty excited to be in Times Square!”

If you loved the extended Pontani burlesque famiglia you won’t be disappointed with the new lineup. Murray Hill, The Pontani Sisters (Angie, Helen, and Peekaboo Pointe) with guests-in-residence Melody Sweets and Little Brooklyn are still the hardest working family in showbiz.

I asked if there were any surprises in store for the upcoming run. “Yes,” Angie said, there will be “new numbers for sure and bigger and better then ever.  With such a large stage we are going to be able to use more props and perform larger group numbers.  The Gin Bath act has a new home — I am so excited to do that act every weekend!”

Friday will be an extra special evening because it is also Angie’s birthday! (Happy birthday!)

Get your tickets now!

This Is Burlesque

Every Friday and Saturday night at 9:30

Sweet Carolines, 322 West 45th Street

For advance tickets call 212-977-3884

diane

Diane Naegel

We here at CC were intrigued by the Jazz Aged themed parties called “Wit’s End“, so we decided to talk to their hostess to find out more.

CC: Hi Diane! I guess my first question is, where are you from, if not from NYC? Why did you move here, what do you do for work, if that isn’t planning these events? What got you into this style of dress / music / literature? Who is your favorite artist in those genres / periods? What are your other interests? For example, are you into Steam Punk, Victorian Gothic, or 40s swing?; alternatively, do you like macs and cheese, Big Macs, macrobiotic vegan fare? Macrame, textiles, rough spun yarn or spandex? Are you also active in theater or music?

Diane N: I’m actually from the Midwest- Cincinnati, Ohio! I went to fashion school there, and the University of Cincinnati has a cooperative education program where you take six paid internships in your field while you’re in school- so I got to live here in NYC, Seattle, and LA while I was getting my degree…so if you look at it that way, I’ve lived here off and on since 2000- but permanently for the last 4+ years. I’m an accessory designer by day- I actually do all of the kids accessories for OshKosh B’gosh!

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This video is a sample of what J. D. got at the Vegas show. Enjoy!

Ruby Valentine

Ruby Valentine

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?

Bird of Paradise

Bird of Paradise

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.

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Murray and friends at Corio Saturday April 25 2009

Murray and friends at Corio Saturday April 25 2009

Don’t get any funny ideas from the title of this post. When I say I spent Saturday night on Murray Hill, don’t think I was drinking at the Rodeo Bar.

I was the special guest of legendary Murray Hill for “This is Burlesque” at Corio. “That’s impossible!” I hear you say. “You’re just an anonymous blogger whose idea of a good time on Saturday night is to get stress management counseling at the Bay Ridge Community Service Center.” Yes, that may be true. But thanks to Twitter, I made a new friend, and he made my night.

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Jo Weldon with her pupils Friday night at the Slipper Room

Friday night (April 24th) was graduation night for Jo Weldon’s New York School of Burlesque at the Slipper Room.

Each and every one of the women who performed are stars and gave standout performances. But natural talent only goes so far. Ms. Weldon not only knows how to pick them, she also knows how to train them.

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by J.D. Oxblood

Our livery car driver has inexplicitly decided to roll all the way down Flatbush, which is like a Christmas Eve parking lot considering that it’s Saturday night in Park Slope.  I’m wearing a gangster-fied pinstriped double-breasted jacket, my editor is in a full tux, and our other accomplice looks like a 1950s cartoon character.  We’re rolling with three gorgeous women and a bodyguard; I somehow feel that we’re one gorgeous woman short—I like to ride with a spare.

We arrive at the Montauk Club, designed by Francis H. Kimball and completed in 1891.  The story goes that he was inspired by a palace on Venice’s Grand Canal, and the imposing Venetian gothic architecture rises from the banality of the Slope like a monolith in a highlands desert.  Stone.  Mahogany.  Stained glass.  My jacket pocket feels suddenly empty—I really should be packing hooch to fully be in character.

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357 performs at the Coney Island benefit party at Southpaw Saturday night

.357 Lover performs at the Coney Island benefit party at Southpaw Saturday night

The band .357 Lover promises on its website to sacrifice their souls so that we may be properly rocked, and Saturday night they delivered.

The Coney Island benefit party at Southpaw was Brooklyn to a T. Freaks, Geeks, Hipsters, Lezzies, Homos, Straights, Bents, Rockers, Mods, Burlesquers, and B-Boys all showed up to save the dilapidated symbol of Brooklyn Soul. The World Famous Bob co-Emceed the Burlesque potion of the show with Miss Astrid, and let me tell you dear reader, they are two of the funniest women in show biz. (Murray Hill, who was not there, is the funniest man.)

It was a night of New York burlesque all stars including Julie Atlas Muze, Gigi La Femme and the World Famous Pontani sisters who performed together and separately.

Peekaboo Pointe

Peekaboo Pointe

You can’t go wrong with that lineup. Angie Pontani sealed the deal with her show stopping tub act, courtesy of Hendrick’s Gin. After that it was hard (so to speak) to walk out of the club upright.

The special surprise of the evening, what made it really special and not just really good, were the Daisy Spurs. They tore up the stage with sizzling energy and heart-pounding dance moves. It was my first time seeing the Daisy Spurs, and I was so impressed I imediately updated my mobile FB status to “Daisy Spurs, my new favorite crazy.” That impressed.

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“Come on, let’s go downtown, Trixie and the Monkey are performing at the Slipper Room.”

“No, no… I’m drunk, I don’t have a notebook with me, I don’t have my camera—“

“Let’s just go see the show!”

“Ok, fine, but I’m not working!”

Famous last words. Hear me, O children, as I say verily unto you, once one has started down the path of wickedness, there is, truly, no turning back. And truly, once one has committed oneself to the recording of said wickedness, merely being wicked will never again suffice. Which is a long-winded way of saying, I went to the Slipper Room and totally blew my cover. It had been so long… I was just so HAPPY to be back in a burlesque venue, and the show was so show-stoppingly amusing, and I so show-stoppingly inebriated, that I just couldn’t HELP myself from talking to the performers and generally making a total ass of myself.

Click here for the HIGHLIGHTS!

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Hey kids, if you’re looking for trouble on a Friday night, but the Recession has put 24 hour raves off your to-do list, why not check out Brian Newman After Dark at Duane Park?

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By J.D. Oxblood 

“I can promise you, if LAST CALL AT THE STARLINER LOUNGE isn’t one of the most original shows that you’ve ever seen, then I will eat a pack of cigarettes.”  With an offer like that, how could I refuse?  Yes, that was the inimitable Snuffy Patterson, and I was half hoping the show would suck so that I could watch him suck ‘em down.  No dice, but it turns out I still won:  he eats a cigarette in the opening as an ad for “Turkish Cigarettes—the cure for halitosis.”  The sourpuss face on this kid is priceless.

We’re back at Corio, another night of hopeless debauchery, shaking off the post-holiday season delirium tremens.  It’s a Wednesday night and cold enough to freeze the rye on my breath.  Seems that all the gorgeous dames in this place only work the Pontani shows; the skirt serving us hooch is looking a little long in the tooth.  Maybe it’s a good thing that she’s not in a corset.

Brian Newman and his band loosen the crowd with a couple of standards, starting with “All of Me.”  This kid looks about two days past getting his draft card, and so thin you could pick your teeth with him.  He can warble, though, so damn well I wondered if the horn in his hand was just a prop.  But he made a sucker of all of us and blew the damn thing better than Gabriel.  He’s backed by keys, skins, a bull fiddle who can lay down a bass line that walks with a ten incher down the left leg, and a sharp-dressed urbanite blowing a thoughtful motif on a tenor sax.

I settle into a cold one and tried to follow the convoluted plot.

Snuffy, our narrator, picks up as Softy Malone enters

This ain't no sausage party.

This ain't no sausage party.

 

By J. D. Oxblood

Friday, December 5, at the Slipper Room. It was a cold night and the oglers were queued up outside the roller doors, waiting for the Slip to open up and let us in. I’d been invited by the inimitable Jo Wheldon, headmistress of the New York School of Burlesque (a.k.a. Jo Boobs), to check out the latest fresh talent. For those who haven’t been to the Slipper Room, it’s a fantastic combination of dirty downtown watering hole and faux glamour—a small, thrust stage and a gorgeous red curtain, with a handful of tables, booths in the back, standing room, and, of course, a bar. A perfect venue for burlesque, the Slip has, indeed, been hosting such events for nine years—or, as Jo put it, “longer than Flashdancers.” And she should know.

Jo hosted in a stunning gold brocade on black dress, giving a shout out to all the peeps who came to see their “friends strip for the first time.” It didn’t hurt that the peanut gallery closest to the stage was full of performers—cue hysterical screaming at every drop of joke or stocking.

The theme of the evening was “Any Holiday but Christmas”

By J. D. Oxblood

Through a random sequence of events and acquaintances I was invited to attend a party at the Crunch Gym on Lafayette, just below Astor Place.  I was a little confused—a party?  At a gym?  Like a work-out party where we all hang out and pump each other up?  Chat with personal trainers and drink some smoothies?  Rub each other down in the shower?  I am IN.  But, no, it was a party party, with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres (that’s French for “snacks”).  At a GYM.  I had to check it out.

Click to get pumped up

Chapter 3:
Sunday, 9/21: The Golden Pastie Awards Show at SOB’s
By J.D. Oxblood

Photos by DJ 13

Helen Pontani, Angie Pontani, Jen Gapay

Helen Pontani, Angie Pontani, Jen Gapay

Needless to say (but I’m gonna say it anyway), I stayed up till 7 in the freaking morning with miscreants and derelicts, and Sunday had a hangover the size of Wisconsin and could. Not. Believe that I was going to look at more T&A. Is there no limit to what a man can endure? Someone has to do it, folks, and that man is me.

The single greatest thing about Sunday’s Golden Pastie Awards was that the audience was full of performers. All the great, hot, sexy women that I’d been drooling over all weekend were there, in the crowd, with the scumbag likes of me. What’s hotter than watching hot women with a bunch of hot women?

Click here to find out!!!

Chapter 2:
Saturday, 9/20: the Saturday Spectacular at Le Poisson Rouge
By J.D. Oxblood
Photos by T-Bone Caruthers, Willy G., and Jane Smith

Ruby Valentine

Ruby Valentine

[***3 kisses indicate J.D.’s faves.]

The crowd at the Saturday Spectacular was decidedly older and more well-heeled. And completely sold out. Turns out that getting people to the West Village is easier than getting people to Gowanus—who knew?—and the place was weirdly, if not wisely, laid out to accommodate VIPs at tables close to the stage and standing room only everywhere else. Which is to say that if you didn’t pay the tab or have the connections to score a dope seat, you couldn’t get within fifty feet of the stage. My entourage and I were lucky enough to find a quaint little spot wedged in between the exit door and upstage left, putting us in the path of performers entering from stage left (Trixie Little rubbed up against me! I’ll never wash that shoulder!) and I had the added pleasure of having Jo Boobs sit right in front of me for the first act in her civvies. It isn’t just that she’s so hot, you dig?—like any man, I can get hot pushed in close to a middle-aged Puerto Rican woman on the morning G train—but, this woman is, like, a legend. You can feel it steaming off her. And I am honored to be so close.

It’s gettin’ hot in herrrre!!!

Chapter 1:
Friday, 9/19: Premiere Party at the Bell House
By J.D. Oxblood
Photos by Jane Smith

The Love Show

The Love Show

[***3 kisses indicate J.D.’s faves.]

I showed up early and was hit in the face by the smell of wood varnish. The space is brand spanking new and I can’t really figure out why they opened a venue of this size in this location. It’s Gowanus, people, which sounds like something you get from raggedy chicks on Craigslist and might very well be. The walk from the elevated F/G stop at Smith and 9th was like a descent into something from Dante’s imagination. Or Cleveland. You choose. And this joint is the kind of high-ceiling, wooden beam affair where you expect to see moose heads on the wall. And the crowd in the lounge? These are the kinds of guys that make you ashamed to be an American—guys who are used to yelling at each other in somebody’s kitchen. They still reek of Bolognese sauce. They’re so psyched to have a bar in their neighborhood they might never go home. Fortunately, the big room was, in fact, very big, so it was possible to get close to the performers. The crowd was mixed and fairly young—those brave enough to make the trek to Gowanus—with an extra helping of young dudes rubbing up against their young babes with the unbridled optimism of knowing they’ll have something to do with their boners when the show is over. Ah, the fantasy of a threesome. Girls, don’t be upset that your boy isn’t thinking about you; just be glad it’s you he’s fucking. The first two gogo dancers were, um, not much of dancers and less of gogo, but they were soon replaced by a smokin’ hot black girl with Supremes sensibilities, and a big, fleshy redhead who was so generous in spreading her ass for the crowd that I considered trying to take her home and skip the whole damn festival. It would take the entire weekend to work THAT out.

Scotty, the Big Blue Bunny is right this way!

THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE %*&#! COVERAGE OF THE 6TH ANNUAL NEW YORK BURLESQUE FESTIVAL ANYWHERE ON THE INTERWEB!

Roxy Dlight Friday at the Bell House

(Sound of Alka Seltzer plop plop fizz fizzing. A Zippo lighter clicks, lights, clicks shut. Venetian blinds are drawn. J.D.’s voice is heard; a voice scarred by cigarettes, Hendricks Gin, and late, late nights of carousing with half-naked… er, people.)

If I sound exhausted it’s because I am. Tore up from the floor up. Shredded like my mini-wheats without the frosting. My four-day stubble has four-day stubble. My front room is knee-deep in beer and whiskey. I think I may have seen too many boobies. Let me say that again. I think I may have seen too many boobies. The last time I saw that much flesh it was Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Katrina was just the name of a sweet young girl from Kansas who took a left turn at Albuquerque.

You gotta hand it to Angie Pontani—the lady knows how to throw a party. Four days, four venues, eighty-eight acts by my count—adds up to well over a hundred performers—and so much hotness the Devil himself had to go back home to cool off. My knees ache from standing at attention, my [unmentionable] aches from standing at attention, my feet are swollen, my fingers are nicotine- and ink-stained, my lungs are crying out for non-nicotine-flavored air, my liver has straight-up packed its bags and left me—AND it took the dog—my sinuses are about to fall to the floor and I’m pretty sure I raised the GNP of Columbia this weekend. I’ve given out a dozen fake names, and at least four other people have claimed to be me in the hopes of getting free schwag, which basically adds up to a half dozen people thinking they had sex with J.D. Oxblood this weekend, or a half dozen people who don’t know they had sex with J.D. Oxblood this weekend, depending on your point of view. Murray, I told you, that’s confectioner’s sugar, it’s Monday morning, and you need to get the hell out of my bathtub. Anita, you can stop acting drunk, it’s over. Let me call you a car, and yes, I’ll call you. Purrhaps. Scotty, I meant everything I said and at least half of what we did, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still be friends.

Get some!

Cultural Capitol wants to send a giant shout out and big up to Jen Gapay and the wonderful women (and men, and other) of the New York Burlesque Festival. We had a great time covering the events. Here is a list of the festival winners:

Biggest Media Whore: Tie: Angie Pontani / Murray Hill
Best Booty Shaker: Gigi La Femme
Best Gams: Delirium Tremens
Best Dressed: Amber Ray
Best Body: Dirty Martini
Most Charismatic: World Famous *BOB*
Hottest Freshman: Roxi Dlite
Most Likely to Win on Survivor: Nasty Canasta
Sexiest Eyes: Indigo Blue
Sweetest Smile: Anita Cookie
Classiest Dame: Michelle L’Amour
Biggest Diva: Dirty Martini
Biggest Tease: Roxi Dlite
Biggest Cougar: Jo Boobs
Most Likely to Go Gay in 2009: Tie: Broadway Brassy / Pinchbottom
Most Likely to Turn Name into an Unpronouncable Symbol: Tigger!

Congratulations to you all!

By J.D. Oxblood

Caught the Monday night again at Public Ass. (“Public Assembly is just a stupid name. It will heretofore be referred to, in these pages, as Public Ass. Suits my idiom.) It’s nice to see that in spite of all the gentrification, the old Billburg spirit is alive and well at Public Ass—the bartenders suck. Too cool for school, way too cool to actually pour a drink or care about tips. Amen, my brethren

The less said about Jonny Porkpie’s Fresh Faces Showcase the better — although WordyGirl’s diss on the U.S. of A. was … something. And at midnight I had to get the hell out of there and get me some up-close-and-personal T & A.

😉

Consequently I couldn’t stick around for GiGi’s Monday Night Blue, so so all you’re gonna get is the highlights of the main event. Deal.

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Monday, July 7, 2008 marked the opening night of the new Monday Night Burlesque at the Performance Space Formerly known as Galapagos. The act to christen the space, or, to “embooben,” as Nasty Canasta put it, was no other than the now super-famous Julie Atlas Muz. She came on in classic black — eyes big as swimming pools complete with bikini-clad pleasure models lounging with Mai Tais — lost her black dress in under a minute, sucked off a rose in fellatiatic splendor, spat out the petals, spilling down her bare bosom, and before anyone could quite check the turgidity of his member, was crawling across the bar to bathe herself with a bowl and a bar of soap, complete with avid pit and crotch scrubbing. No one does nudity with laughter better than the Muz. She finished with a bottle of vodka upended over her entire body and I half-thought she was going to set her entire figure on fire. Let me be the one to tell you, folks: Julie looks hotter now than she did when I first saw her naked, 8 years ago. That’s some serious deal with the devil, and I think he got took.

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