On October 28, my final destination of the night was BadAss Burlesque‘s Dia de los Muertos Gala. It was the sixth anniversary of the exotic event and marked its last as a monthly. Boo, indeed!
Back in the beginning, when BadAss was at Bowery Poetry, I was one of three guest emcees. It’s been a few years since I last graced the BadAss stage and the night has moved from Bowery Poetry to Knitting Factory and Arlene’s Grocery, landing, finally, at Le Poisson Rouge. I hadn’t expected dinner theater seating and it was a very pleasant surprise.
Vulgaras opened the show with a a deafening live set; it was surreal watching Velocity singing with the video backdrop of old horror films. Eerily elegant! Then Mistress Formika took the stage. “Hello, putahs!” she welcomed us in her inimitable aggressive fashion. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen you all,” she continued, “especially this putah right here,” she said, looking down at me. Formika introduced the debut of “Bruja Rising,” Vulgaras’s new video, before the evening’s festivities turned to the tassel twirling. And I was, as I stated earlier, stupified!
Magdalena Fox was the first dancer onstage, with fancy legwork, whiteface and a fan dance. Deity looked serene as Frida Kahlo, in a glittering interpretation of traditional Mexican garb. As she stripped down to her sparkling pasties, the crowd was whipped into a frenzy. The Flying Fox followed, in a stunning red tulle wedding-like gown that had me gasping. She strutted the stage behind a ghoulish mask and her piece crescendoed with dark goo oozing from her mouth. (Meaning she’d gone through her entire routine with that mouthful! Impressive!)
Fem Appeal removed her red veil and crimson cocktail dress to reveal a skull mask and skeleton body suit, but even her bones were shed before she showered herself in glitter from a pocket flask. Albert Cadabra was the night’s only male performer and he did not disappoint. His routine was a mix of masculinity and magic; he stripped out of a straightjacket all the way down to…nothin’. Anna Evans failed to move me; her routine seemed nothing more than a lapdance at Scores. Zzzzzz.
But Madame Rosebud and her mohawk made me verrrry happy! I can’t even remember the details, only that she had me grinning with glee! There was black lace and a proud fierceness that made me believe, once again, in burlesque as performance art. Producer extraordinaire Velocity performed next and was, as always, astounding. Juliet Jeske performed a Jean d’Arc-inspired piece, stripping down to a body-painted cross and not much more.
Intermission and a Day of the Dead Costume Contest split the festivities in two and gave me time to catch my breath! Act two began with Legs Malone, who did little more than remove her cape. Yes, long legs are lovely; however, nothing but left me wanting a bit more. Ruby Valentine was true to her color by donning a red tulle veil that matched her red hose, red panties and red heels. Delicious! And then…Nasty Canasta, consistently one of my personal favorites! This woman looks completely different every time I see her! She performed her routine blindfolded, then ended with a backbend and spilled hot wax. Huzzah! She’s a genius!
Calamity Chang‘s performance was the closest to classic burlesque, all rhinestones, feathers and flirtatious dance moves, culminating in a crystal skull that spilled glitter. Gah! Ms. Tickle managed the most imaginative tease, with a papier maché set of breasts that opened up like curio cupboards and faux genitalia that secreted a rosary. Whew! The whipping about of Stormy Leather and her co-star reminded me of pieces I’d seen a decade ago, so I was nonplussed. My friend Alex, however, was floored by her performance…to each his own, eh?
When the evening was over, I walked home, wrung out and glad that I’d had my faith restored…in New York, in nightlife and in near-nudity!