Jo Jo Stiletto and Theatre Off Jackson Bring the Whedonverse to Seattle.

•07/20/2011 • 6 Comments

Polly Wood and Heidi Von Haught in Whedonesque Burlesque (Photo Jules Doyle)

- Written by Madeline Rider (Contributor, Seattle)

When most girls were covering their walls with pictures of their favorite male pop stars pulled from the latest Bop magazine, the bare white plaster of my childhood room was buried beneath meticulously Scotch-taped photos of Buffy Summers. Unlike my peers, it wasn’t a dream boy I admired, but a dream girl, a strong and independent young woman who persevered through the trials and tribulations of young adulthood as well a regular onslaught of demonic activity. Throughout my early adolescence, I lived with my father and younger brother and had very few examples of female adulthood available to me. As the series progressed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer proved to be much more than a cable television sensation, as writer and creator Joss Whedon artfully illustrated the intricacies of not only the female experience, but the universal human experience as well. Whedon’s characters were beautiful and imperfect and gave me hope that I could be, too.

Last weekend, co-producers Jo Jo Stiletto and Theatre Off Jackson brought Joss Whedon’s clever characters and tricky twists to the stage for a two night run of Whedonesque Burlesque. With his talent for writing from the female perspective and his gift for artfully displaying emotional truths through camp and satire, the Whedonverse naturally lends itself to the burlesque genre. The sentiment emanating its manifestation was clearly printed within the evening’s program as personal statements from both Edward Ward, owner of Paper Windows Booksellers, and Miss Stiletto herself. In the chilly basement theater off Seventh and Jackson in Seattle’s International District, I sat reading of Mr. Ward’s own experience of growth and the role Joss Whedon had in facilitating his own healing. It became clear to me that the production value of Whedonesque Burlesque exceeded quantitative measure.

My fellow patrons conversed around me, the less learned asking each other “Who are those three blue women with fans and why did they hand me a yogurt bar?”, others confessing, or perhaps touting, the depraved levels of fandom they had sunken to, “I hadn’t realized how long I had been watching Buffy until I realized my body was starting to hurt from sitting.” In his opening number, boylesque performer Billy Corazon pays tribute to the tempestuous and sometimes obsessive relationships fans have with Whedon’s television creations, something everyone in the audience appeared to relate to. The high energy number immediately electrified the room and set a positive note on which the rest of the evening resonated. In a discussion I had recently with performer Wiggy Stardust, I asked her why she felt that fandom of burlesque and science fiction tended to overlap.

“Burlesque is just as much about the creation of fantasy, the willful suspension of disbelief, and approximating the dream state. There is an eeriness and uncanniness in science fiction and fantasy that a short live performance mirrors.”

Burlesque and science fiction generally provide escapism in the same fashion. We dive into a gritty novel, television show, or movie; we climb the stairs of Oddfellows to West Hall. We leave this world, with its limits, boundaries, and constraints- and we enter another, where our fantasies, either sexual or supernatural, are just as real.

With over twenty performers throughout the evening, the skill level varied from newbie to seasoned veteran. Polly Wood and Heidi Von Haught, who gallantly showed off a pair of pipes, brought a terrific number straight from the infamous musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: “Once More With Feeling.” Other standout displays of showmanship came from Rachel Jackson and Paul Velasquez of Puppet This, whose peek into the life of Joss Whedon under the tyranny of the Fox network executives, proved to be one of the more intelligent and humorous numbers of the evening. Despite a few performances where inexperience was clearly evident, the production as a whole was exceptionally successful in providing the audience with the opportunity to marry three actualities into a fabulous evening of entertainment: the Whedonverse, the world of Burlesque, and the reality in which we live in.

To help benefit more genius collaborations at Theatre Off Jackson, keep your ears open for details on Puu Puu: A TOJ Party and Fundraiser slated to happen October 26th. And most excitingly, further your female geekdom at GeekGirlCon on October 8th and 9th in the Seattle Center Northwest Rooms and the EMP Museum.

“GeekGirlCon is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting awareness of and celebrating the contribution and involvement of women in all aspects of the sciences, science fiction, comics, gaming and related Geek culture through conventions and events that emphasize both the historic and ongoing contribution and influence of women in this culture.”

Passes are on sale now at www.geekgirlcon.com.

Whedonesque Burlesque (Photo Jules Doyle)

Billy Corazon (Photo Jules Doyle)

Puppet This (Photo Jules Doyle)

The bewitching Anna Fur Laxis and her magic strip.

•07/18/2011 • Leave a Comment

Ever since video started surfacing from this year’s Burlesque Hall of Fame Tournament of Tease,  I’ve been obsessing on this bewitching and humorous performance by Anna Fur Laxis (Yorkshire, UK), a self-proclaimed showgirl, knife-thrower, and magician.  Anna was First Runner-Up for Reigning Queen of Burlesque 2011, right up there with our very own Lily Verlaine and Miss Indigo Blue.

How she dragged this ridiculously huge prop to the US is as much of a mystery as her mastery of the sexy quick-change strip.  I admire the way she really takes her time with this number, luxuriously playing into the music- and I’m deeply in awe of the “magic hands”.  Check it out:

Anna’s website features some beautiful vintage-inspired pinup shots, as well as this quote from Dirty Martini which neatly summarizes Anna’s charms:

Anna Fur Laxis has the absolute best take on the current Bettie Page mania. In a time where every rock-a-billy chick is sporting the Bettie pinup look, Anna takes it to a new level with a witty twist and a totally charming and accomplished stage persona. And she’s so pretty!

BHOF 2011 titleholders Stage Door Johnnies, Lily Verlaine, Anna Fur Laxis, Miss Indigo Blue, and LouLou D'Vil

Dita gets her Southern on. Valkyrie channels their inner Coney Island.

•07/14/2011 • Leave a Comment

It kills me that this bill isn't scheduled for Seattle. So far...?

BSP hot tipper Paul and I have been bemoaning the fact that Dita Von Teese has nothing scheduled at this time for the Pacific Northwest, but she’s bringing a round of incredible acts to New Orleans, Dallas, and Houston this month- including her Opium Den number  and…a PINK MECHANICAL BULL. Yes, it’s true.  And to make those of us way up North even more jealous, last night Dita announced even more special guests for her Strip Strip Hooray! variety show: MC Murray Hill, Dirty Martini, Selene Luna (!!!), Monsieur Romeo (Host of L’Effleur Des Sens), Lada (from the World Famous Crazy Horse Paris), and Medianoche.

Here’s more info from the lady herself:

Dita is bringing her variety show “Burlesque: Strip Strip Hooray!” to the House Of Blues in New Orleans, Dallas and Houston this summer.

New Orleans – July 26th
Dallas – July 28th
Houston – July 30th

The show features MC Murray Hill and some of burlesque’s brightest stars:

MC Murray Hill
Comedian and renowned entertainer Murray Hill, “the hardest working middle-aged man in show business,” is a relentless retro shtick slinger, buster of audience chops and freewheeling ad-libber. Murray’s razor sharp wit and frenetic showman antics led the New York Times to anoint him “Downtown’s New ‘It’ Boy.” Murray has also had a string of recent cameos in HBO’s Bored to Death, STARZ’s Gravity, and BRAVO’s Real Housewives of New York.

Dirty Martini
New York Magazine calls Dirty Martini “the sexpot sophisticate,” and the New York Times declared her “one of the best in burlesque.” Featured in the film “Tournee” which premiered at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, Dirty Martini is one of the leading figures in the American Burlesque revival.

Selene Luna
At 3’10″, Selene Luna is a small package with a very big presence. The New York Times calls her “a polished spitfire,” and the Washington Square News says, “She’s a huge presence and owns the stage during her 5-minute romp.” Luna was an original member of Velvet Hammer Burlesque and is well-known as Margaret Cho’s sidekick on “The Cho Show.”

Lada of the Crazy Horse Paris
One of the stars of the Crazy Horse Paris, Lada was hand-picked by Dita to appear in “Burlesque: Strip Strip Hooray!” after they met during Dita’s guest star appearances at the famous cabaret in 2010. As Crazy Horse Paris Creative Director Ali Mahdavi notes, Lada is “the ultimate expression of a Crazy Horse dancer. She epitomizes the essential blend of strength, femininity, and a sense of humor.”

Monsieur Romeo of L’effleur des Sens
Representing boylesque in the show, Monsieur Romeo was born in France and raised all over Europe where he worked as a model for Giorgio Armani, Vivienne Westwood and Jean Paul Gaultier, before moving to Los Angeles to pursue acting. Well-known as the host of the LA-based Parisian Cabaret L’effleur des Sens, “Monsieur Roméo exudes disreputable savoir-faire, seeking women in the audience to help him strip during his solo, and behaving as if anyone who even looks at him is hopelessly corrupt.” (LA Times).

Medianoche
Medianoche was born and raised in southern Spain and is formally trained in flamenco and tango dance. She brings a distinctly European je ne sais quoi to venues such as Duane Park, Highline Ballroom, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Hotel Empire. Although always at her best when emerging from Isis wings, rhinestoned flower petals, or her signature red pheasant feathers, Medianoche also dances Argentine tango professionally in theatres and ballrooms throughout the United States.

For more information, please visit www.dita.net.

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What can we do to console ourselves until Dita turns her attention back to Seattle and beyond? I’d suggest some homegrown burlesque, including the debut show from Valkyrie Productions (aka Minetta Lane and Violet Tendencies). Trojan Original as The Strongman, The Shanghai Pearl as The Mermaid, Fannie Beaverhausen as The Giantess…? Yes, yes, and yes. Dita Von Teese can cool her bejeweled heels in Texas for another weekend or two while Sideshow Sirens: A Valkyrie Peepshow mixes things up, Coney Island style.

Sideshow Sirens July 15 and 22 in Seattle

I asked Minetta Lane how this show came about:

Sideshow Sirens: A Valkyrie Peepshow is a look at the dark side of the
circus . We are bringing together Seattle’s burlesque stars along with
some of the brightest new talent for this sinister and sensual peek
behind the big top.

Violet and I have always wanted to do our part to foster the ideal of
community in Seattle burlesque. This is the first in our run of shows
designed to entertain audiences by bringing them the newest and
hottest talent along side Seattle’s much loved queens of the stage.
This idea for Valkyrie Productions- and this show in particular- started
during one of Violet’s and my crazy email exchanges while we should
have been working our day jobs. We can get rather ridiculous and over
the top with our ideas, but something fun always comes out of it.

We picked the talent for our first show based on performers we love to
see; the list got a bit long so some of those invites will have to
wait for our next show. We are also open to suggestions if fans know
of a hidden gem or someone they just have to see more of, we would
love to hear about it.

Contact Valkyrie at: thevalkyrieproductions@gmail.com, and get tickets HERE.

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And though both nights have completely sold out, it’s most definitely worth a mention that July 15 and 16 the fabulous Jo Jo Stiletto and her fellow producers bring Whedonesque Burlesque: Seattle Edition to the Theatre Off Jackson.  The show’s theme is to die for:

Seattle’s finest geeky burlesque performers are daring to take inspiration from their favorite Joss Whedon shows and characters: Buffy, Firefly, Dr Horrible, Angel, Dollhouse and more. This will be a nerd spectacle of epic proportions. Expect sexiness, silliness, sadness, strange creatures and more. We aim to misbehave!

Hosted by Rebecca M. Davis
Performances by:
Heidi Von Haught
Polly Wood
Mercury Troy
Miss Elaine Yes
Lexi Luthor
Sister Piston
Mae Kim Beg
Electric Fanny
Rip Curl
Whisper De Corvo
Legs Montana
The Norse Goddess
Rachel Jackson of Puppet This
The Fighting Women of Performers’ Forge
Miss Little Piza Paradise
Billy Corazon
EmpeROAR Fabulous (Sat. Only)…AND MORE!

Sister Piston (Photo Geoff Carter)

Freedom Fantasia in pictures. Atomic Bombshells hit the Moore.

•07/11/2011 • Leave a Comment

The Atomic Bombshells have just announced that they’ll be appearing at the historic Moore Theatre in August. This warrants a little research to see when the last burlesque show hit the hallowed Moore stage. I’m guessing it has been quite a while, but it’s very much Artistic Director Kitten LaRue’s style to have a few surprises- big surprises- up her sleeve.

Built in 1907, the Moore is the oldest remaining operational theatre in Seattle. The Columbia City Theatre, the oldest vaudeville theater in the state of Washington, was built in 1917; the historic Mann building that houses The Triple Door was originally home to the Embassy Theatre, a vaudeville house that opened in 1926. The Moore was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. These days the Moore is a little shabby, but still elegant- and they’re about to join the other two theatres in hosting a little shimmy and shake. Seeing the Bombshells- plus the troupe debut of newest member Inga Ingénue- is going to be one of the best classic burlesque revues this summer. Get tickets HERE.

In case you missed Freedom Fantasia, the Fourth of July extravaganza presented by Kitten LaRue and Co-Producer Ben DeLaCreme, here’s a few pics by POC Photo:

Kitten LaRue shows her patriotism, flexi-style. (POC Photo)

Ben DeLaCreme with um, the national bird. (POC Photo)

Life could be a dream.

Lucky Penny- reveals on skates!

The fantastic Jinx Monsoon. (POC Photo)

Cherdonna and Lou (POC Photo)

Colorado gets a visit from the Queen.

•07/07/2011 • Leave a Comment

Colorado Burlesque Festival 2011 poster

The 2011 Colorado Burlesque Festival kicks off tonight and runs through this weekend. The headliners and performers are the crème de la crème of neo burlesque, featuring the Pacific Northwest’s charms with our very own Miss Indigo Blue (Seattle), Evilyn Sin Claire (Seattle), and Baby Le’Strange (Portland).

Speaking of Miss Indigo Blue, she may be royalty but she’s still a ham. The Reigning Queen has issued the first in a series of sovereign-like edicts that she’ll be imparting to her subjects over the next year. Check out the inaugural message, filmed by Burlesque Seattle Press contributing writer/photographer Paul O’Connell (and quite memorably guest starring Paris Original, The Luminous Pariah, and Reagan Pussyfoot):

***also…check out Miss Indigo Blue’s blog, Love and Tassels, in the sidebar at right.***

Stripped Screw and their Magic Kingdom.

•07/04/2011 • Leave a Comment

Stripped Screw in Disney After Dark (POC Photo)

- Written by Madeline Rider (Contributor, Seattle)/ Photos by POC

It was bittersweet last weekend as Stripped Screw Burlesque bid farewell to founding member and Burlesque Hall of Fame competitor Randi Rascal and the Capitol Hill-ebrity Wiggy Stardust. As Jessica noted in her preview of the troupe’s latest run Disney After Dark, the girls welcome two of Seattle’s burgeoning talents Kutie LaBootie and Kylie Kyote in Randi and Wiggy’s stead. In addition to these two primo newbies, special guest stars Bella Bijioux, Trojan and Paris Original as well as Sir Richard Longfellow contributed to the Stripped Screw’s naughty spin on childhood classics.

Sir Richard Longfellow in Disney After Dark (POC Photo)

In an attempt to create continuity between acts, this emcee-less troupe (save the brief voice-overs emanating from the sound booth), schooled Sir Richard Longfellow in what it takes to be a Disney diva. At times an ambitious endeavor, Sir Richard’s disrobing, or should I say “re-robing”, certainly contributed a comedic flare to the tight transitions between acts. Paris Original broke free from his role as pick-up artist for an en pointe satire of the traditional prince-seeking common in Disney’s mid-century fairy tale animations.

Paris Original (POC Photo)

Without exception, the evening’s highlight performance came from another classically trained dancer- Violet Tendencies. Her duet with Trojan Original, as the princess who simply wouldn’t wake, provided the audience an absolutely superb example of neo-burlesque, combining beautiful movement with some of the raunchiest undertones I’ve seen in act. In addition to the subtly of on-stage perversion, Violet’s choice in music, neither heavy-handed nor irrelevant, maximized the emotional qualities of her number. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for her future creative endeavors as I’m certain good things are to come.

Violet Tendencies and Trojan Original (POC Photo)

Violet and fellow Stripped Screw troupe member Minetta Lane will be producing their first show as Valkyrie Productions on July 15th and the 22nd at the Rendezvous. Sideshow Sirens: A Valkyrie Peepshow will feature Minetta Lane, Fannie Beaverhausen, La Petite Morte, Kutie LaBootie, Kylie Koyote, Tin Pan Sally & her paramour The Shanghai Pearl, Trojan Original and Seraphina, with Candy Apples, Laela Lovechild and special guests Mercury Troy and Iva Handfull on July 22nd.

Purchase your tickets ($15 adv/$18 dos) at Brown Paper Tickets HERE.

Exotic World and The Burlesque Revival on the big screen. Cupcakes & Apple Pie in Seattle.

•07/01/2011 • 1 Comment

Be a part of history- 10 days left!

Everyone who attended the Burlesque Hall of Fame 2011 came away with a very important film fixation: Exotic World and the Burlesque Revival. Anyone who has made the pilgrimage to the annual Vegas gathering ever can attest to the power of the museum as a tool to not only preserve history, but to make it: Dixie Evans and before her, Jennie Lee, threw the doors wide open for legions of performers to follow in their footsteps, and find each other.

This movie is important to the international burlesque community in so many ways, and only 10 days remain in the campaign to help fund the project’s finishing costs (mastering, archival footage, music licensing, and color correction). Read more about the film HERE- and please, for the love of all that is dazzling, donate!

Check out the crowd reactions to last month’s sneak peek in Vegas:

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Happening this weekend:

THE ACADEMY OF BURLESQUE AND MISS INDIGO BLUE INVITE YOU TO:
A Celebratory Reception for the newly crowned Reigning Queen of Burlesque, Miss Indigo Blue, and for those from Seattle who performed this year at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend.

Seattle-based international burlesque sensation Miss Indigo Blue, “The Twirly Girl,” has been crowned the Reigning Queen of Burlesque at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Reunion and Pageant in Las Vegas, Nevada. The newly named Queen, officially “Miss Exotic World 2011″ took home a tiara and a 3-foot tall trophy for her win, and a second trophy for the “Most Classic” award. In addition to Miss Indigo Blue’s win, five other Burlesque performers from Seattle performed at the event. Lily Verlaine won 2nd Runner Up, and Randi Rascal and Iva Handfull both competed in the Best Debut category. Inga Ingenue and Waxie Moon were also featured in the Thursday Night “Innovators” Showcase.

This reception honors of all of Seattle’s illustrious ecdysiasts that performed at BHoF, and will be held this Saturday July 2, from 2-5 pm at The Academy of Burlesque’s home in the West Hall of the Oddfellows Bldg at 915 E Pine St. The reception is free, but donations for Exotic World: The Movie *AND* The Burlesque Hall of Fame will be gratefully accepted.

The Tin Table will open early for the event, and celebratory cupcakes wil be provided in West Hall while DJ Status Apparatus spins hot tunes. During the event, two Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend slideshows will be displayed by Academy Alumni Paul O’Connell and Ruby Whiines. Also, there will be a press photo op, as well as opportunities for attendees have pictures taken with the Queen and her Trophy and with the other BHoF performers. This will also be the International Premiere of “The Queen’s Edict”, the first of 12 monthly videos that Indigo Blue will present as Reigning Queen of Burlesque. Accurate Facebook RSVP’s are requested to ensure sufficient cupcakes.

Details:
Date: Saturday, July 2
Times: 2-5pm
Place: West Hall, Oddfellows Bldg, 915 E Pine St.
Cost: Free, but RSVP here: HERE
Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible.

Miss Indigo Blue at BHOF 2011 (Photo by POC)

After the reception, why not hang around the Hill, return to West Hall, and check out DeLaRue Presents: Freedom Fantasia

Freedom Fantasia: this weekend at West Hall.

 
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