Get Your Sexy On: A Night at the NYBF
Warning: This is a NSFW article.
Event Date: October 3, 2009
Venue: B.B. King’s Bar and Grille
Performers Reviewed: Angie Pontani, Indigo Blue and Co., Gravity Plays Favorites, Ms. Tickle, Melody Sweets, Hot Toddy.
The word invokes all sorts of thoughts. Mostly, they’re thoughts of half-naked women clad in tassels, garters, and feather boas. Not to say that these elements are no longer relevant or present in modern burlesque but, well, the “art” has grown far beyond that simple description in recent years.
Wikipedia defines burlesque as, “a humorous theatrical entertainment involving parody and sometimes grotesque exaggeration.” But that’s still not hitting the nail on the head. While I put the word in quotation marks before, burlesque has truly become an art and nowhere was this more evident than at the Seventh Annual New York Burlesque Festival.
Running over a period of 4 days, from Oct. 1st – 4th, 2009, Burlesque fest actually takes place in a variety of different venues. I was able to catch the Saturday show at B.B. King’s and to say I was excited is putting it mildly. Did anyone know that there is a HUGE yen for burlesque in this city?! Because there is and I found this out when I arrived to find the venue sold out, standing room the only thing left available. Even though the prospect of jockeying for a good view filled me with trepidation, I nonetheless stuck it out. Me, and a crowd of at least 100 other curious New Yorkers willing to sacrifice comfort for a chance to see the “world famous” performances. Despite my only being able to stay for the first 3 hours of the show, New York Burlesque Festival certainly left its mark on my psyche… and my libido.
First off, its important to realize that any burlesque act or persona that one could possibly imagine was well represented. There was everything from straight up striptease and athletic pole-dancing, to hilarious over-dramatization of sex acts and even male burlesque acts. Make no mistake, these performers take their craft seriously. They invest considerable amounts of money, time, and energy making names for themselves in world of burlesque. These performers have serious reputations that even the uninitiated can determine from the reverence with which their respective names are spoken and, with such a variety of acts on stage in a single night, it’s difficult to choose just a few to highlight. I will, however, endeavor to try!
In no particular order:
Angie Pontani – Not only is she a fierce performer who excels at the art of the tease, she’s also a local girl (New Jersey native) whose entire family appears to be deeply entrenched in the proliferation of burlesque. Working a slinky body and a costume that grew increasingly tiny, she richly deserved the standing ovation she received.
Indigo Blue and Co. – I wish I knew exactly what to say about this duo other than that I laughed so hard I nearly cried. They started out having innocent tea time and ended up doing an imitation of “squirting” using well placed showers of lemon juice. Who can ever look at tea time the same way again?
Gravity Plays Favorites – Remember that athletic pole-dancing I mentioned? It was so expertly performed by this pair. Yes, they were doing the sexy stripping of clothes but they were also pulling off tricks that required genuine skill. Twisting, turning, and hanging from both the pole and each other, these ladies definitely set a high standard for this sort of act and made us all believe that gravity does play favorites.
Ms. Tickle – Wow. Can one even leave it at that? This woman practically brought out a whip and smacked down the other performers with how arresting her presence was. Keeping in mind that everyone has different opinions of what it means to be “sexy”, Ms. Tickle fulfilled all of my requirements with dark styled classical music and a beautiful costume with pieces that slowly rearranged to transform her into a swan. I’m still goggle-eyed.
Melody Sweets – Talk about well-rounded! Not only does Ms. Sweets write her own songs, she also sings throughout her entire performance. Another representing local, from NY, she gives us quality writing with an electro beat and, yes, she has the pipes to pull it off. Her song was called “The Midas Touch” and her act, where she’s essentially a treasure being stripped of all other valuables, was a whole lot of fun to witness.
Last but never least is Hot Toddy. He was the second male performer of the night and he blew me away. Though someone who inspired much laughter, at first, us ladies in the audience were cheering by the end when he exhibited just how “talented” he was. Not many men can pull off red, glittery speedos, devil horns, and a matching tail. With the kind of body Mr. Toddy was sporting and the amount of gyration and flips he displayed for the audience, he was the devil in disguise.
The group of people who organize this event do so for a reason. Quite simply, they love it. They love it so much that they even solicit sponsors for whom they give stage “commercials”, just like in days of old. Both Jagermeister and Pabst Blue Ribbon were proud to lend a monetary hand to these well orchestrated shenanigans, the resulting “advertisements” a study in hilarity.
I’m happy to say that New York Burlesque Fest was no disappointment. It was intriguing, amusing, erotic, creative and an event that anyone in search of good entertainment should experience at least once. Because burlesque isn’t just about taking one’s clothes off; it’s about doing so with imagination enough to inspire all those watching.
Check out the The New York Burlesque Festival – stay tuned for 2010!