Whedonesque Burlesque 2012.
Theatre Off Jackson
August 24-25, August 31-September 1, 2012
~ Written and photographed by Special Guest Contributor, Paul Swortz
In the interest of full disclosure – while I’m a fan of burlesque, I’m merely a casual fan of Joss Whedon.
From science fiction/fantasy/horror films and TV to comic books and superhero movies, he’s written, directed, and produced many works beloved by fans around the world. Most famous are the successful TV series and movies Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and The Avengers, but the less commercially successful sci-fi Westerns Firefly (a one season TV series) and Serenity (a fan-driven film based on the canceled series) are equally beloved. Whedon has created a universe (dubbed “The Whedonverse”) of flawed heroes and noble villains with legions of fans the world over.
It was immediately apparent from lobby conversations in the Theatre Off Jackson before Whedonesque Burlesque that the house was going to be filled with experts on the Whedonverse every bit as studied as Stephen Hawking is on the plain old, regular universe. And most performers in the eighteen acts over the course of the show demonstrated that they are also advanced fans of Whedon, who is aware – and supportive of – the shows inspired by his work. According to producer Jo Jo Stiletto: “We had some folks with connections to the set of The Avengers… Joss knows of us and is tickled. I truly appreciate his dedication to fans and fan art.”
Fans apparently appreciated it too, as the show quickly sold out in June, leading to weeks of lively swaps and “tickets needed” exchanges on the show’s Facebook page. “It’s always a surprise, honestly, to have a sellout,” said Jo Jo. “I knew it would do well but I didn’t expect the frenzy. It’s fun. It’s frightening. We are a very niche show.”
Niche maybe, but the crowds on both nights I attended were vocal, energetic, and raucous… and that’s got to sound good to any producer.
There’s simply not enough room to report on all eighteen performances, but here are a few notes on some of the numbers (you can see photos from each number at www.paulswortz.com).
• Rebecca M. Davis was our hostess for the evening, “assisted” throughout by Jake Groshong’s “Captain Hammer” (from “Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog“)
• Solange Corbeau as Faith from Buffy/Angel: This was a darkly sexy number, her black leather and latex as alluring and dangerous as the character from the Whedonverse she portrayed.
• Modesty Babe as Joyce Summers, Buffy’s mother: Modesty immodestly seduced the audience with a strip tease after consuming an accursed (but aphrodisiac) piece of band candy.
• Sailor St. Claire portrayed a conceptual incarnation of the ship “Serenity” from Firefly. Sailor did a classic fan dance – her blue ostrich feathers and fluid movements representing the solid reliability and grace of the spacecraft.
• Tootsie Spangles and Hattie Hellkat as Doll/Doctor from “Dollhouse:” Watching the “evil” doctor have the brainwashing tables turned on her – she wound up stripped, bound, and spanked by her subject.
• La Petite Mort as The Arsonist from “Cabin in the Woods:” This darkly erotic performer brought her signature gothic style and lovely curves to the show, closing her number with a bloody surprise.
• Lady Drew Blood as Moist from “Dr. Horrible:” Her sexy portrayal of a minor character from Whedon’s hilarious web-film left the audience wet (literally, if they were in the front row).
• Billy Corazon as Giles from Buffy: Corazon played the anguished Watcher, mourning the death of Buffy’s mother, and taking drastic action in response…
• Scarlett O’Hairdye as Wil Wheaton: Yes, this was a show for devoted Whedonverse geeks. According to authorities on the Whedonverse/Star Trek universe, Wheaton (who played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation) has a bit of a complex about his character’s legacy, and may rely on facial hair to help shed his image as a precocious teenage Enterprise geek. Three words: Strangest. Merkin. Ever.
• Sara Dipity and Man Johnson as Saffron and Capt. Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly: Christina Hendricks made this role one of the most memorable on this short-lived series, and Sara Dipity’s great voice did the role justice. Man Johnson showed AMAZING cool as Capt. Mal Reynolds as she seductively shimmied, snuggled, and kissed her way into his, um, heart.
• Lady Laycock as Buffy: As previously noted, Whedon has been known to kill his characters, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer died twice over the course of the series…so where does a slayer go when she dies? Apparently, to a very blue place, where her lovely white dress falls away during a graceful dance performance.
• Mae Kim Beg as Bad Horse from “Dr. Horrible:” As one Facebook poster wrote on the event wall: “I’ve never been so attracted to a horse in my life.”
• Trojan Original as Xander from Buffy: This talented dancer brought his skills to an atypical striptease, his shiny red bikini bottom fulfilling the Xander fantasies of many Buffy fans in the house, judging from the cheering howls he received at his finish.
• Iva Handfull as Spike from Buffy: If I were a burlesque performer (and trust me, NO ONE EVER WANTS TO SEE THAT), I would never take the stage after Iva Handfull. The energy and power she brings- in this show and every other performance I’ve seen her in – absolutely tears the house down. Finish the number with a suggestive grope/kiss with Buffy herself (Lady Laycock) and you have the perfect finale to close this show.