The Beautiful People: TFU4 continues at Re-bar February 22-23
No one would have guessed a bizarre little show with an expletive for a name would become an annual staple for artists nudging burlesque a little farther from plucky bra strap popping into full-fledged performance art. The That’s F*cked Up! series, now in its fourth incarnation, has done exactly that. Every year the theme has widened, the call for proposals often bringing in acts dealing with serious subject matter such as domestic violence and rape. Which isn’t to say there’s not a good dose of the lighthearted and dirty in there as well, you just have to clench your teeth through a few uncomfortable moments before that kind of release.
“There were a few really interesting trends we found that have influenced the show this year,” producer Heidi Von Haught explained. “For one, the performance style that Flirty Sanchez refers to as ‘sadlesque’ seems to be taking off in a big way. I think That’s F*cked Up! and ReProduction [a benefit for NARAL Pro-Choice Washington that sold out last spring], produced by Randi Rascal, Wiggy Stardust, and myself, had some significant impact on that. In giving people a space to perform burlesque that is more serious and evokes sadness, pain, discomfort and loss, I think performers have felt their options expand and are really excited about that.”
Both Heidi and co-producer Randi Rascal perform in TFU4 as well as carefully curating the acts beforehand, even importing guests from other cities whose acts specifically fit the focus. San Francisco’s phenomenal Rubenesque Burlesque made an appearance in opening weekend’s shows; their performance to Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People” was one of the strongest of the evening, squarely addressing body image and shame with a wicked sense of humor. Burlesque’s male performers have been pushing the art form forward by leaps and bounds the last few years. In TFU4 brothers Paris and Trojan Original are characteristically brave as well as beautiful and Man Johnson and Sir Richard Longfellow bust through surprising stereotypes. The Luminous Pariah also guest stars in the show’s second weekend at Re-Bar, February 22-23 at 7:30pm. (Tickets available at www.brownpapertickets.com)