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Big, Bad, Bawdy & Beguiling: Burlesque Blitz hits Brooklyn

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So, how much sexy fun can you handle in 48 hours? Get ready, because Nasty Canasta, Veronika Sweet, Bunny Love, Cherry Bomb and the rest of the 30 risqué performers in the two-day extravaganza known as the Brooklyn Burlesque Blitz are going to test your endurance and tickle your funny bone this weekend. “Burlesque is everything from classic elements from vaudeville, to folks who bring in a lot of different elements from performance art,” Nasty Canasta told 24/7 this week. The blitz is so big that it took four of the hottest production teams on the neo-burlesque circuit today – Wasabassco, Pinchbottom, Sweet & Nasty and Kissing Cousins – to pull it all off. The action kicks off at Southpaw, at 125 Fifth Avenue in Park Slope on January 26, and then moves to North Six, at 66th North 6th Street in Williamsburg on January 27. Sexy Scarlet Sinclair calls today’s burlesque “the most incredible blank canvas I’ve ever known.” “We have absolute control of what we do up there, from the music to the choreography,” she says. No one just gets up on stage and takes off their clothes in burlesque. Each performance is a self-contained story, and mny of the performers have backgrounds in the worlds of theater and comedy. In a performance piece called “Miracle Grow,” Jonny Porkpie joins wife Canasta on stage as a poor flower who only responds to “proper attention.” “We get to the point where we’re both taking off our clothes,” Jonny laughs. East Coast neo-burlesque as practiced in hipster venues around Brooklyn is a co-ed affair. “There are a few more guys getting into burlesque,” Nasty confirms. In addition to hubby Jonny, other male performers like Bastard Keith and Tigger have successfully managed to stake out part of the burlesque stage for themselves without totally alienating straight men along the way. “I get a lot of feedback from straight guys,” Jonny admits. “They don’t find me threatening.” Wasabassco producer Bill Morton calls burlesque “welcoming.” “It’s great to see many different points of view,” he says. “That’s the beauty of it.” Burlesque performers like Dirty Martini and The World Famous BOB helped lead a resurgence of the art form at drag clubs around the city in the 90’s. Always a fan of pin-ups and lingerie, Scarlet says she got hooked on the genre after taking in a show at the Slipper Room a few years ago. “I fell in love with an art form that spoke to me,” she says. “I felt maybe I could do this, too.” Nasty, who comes from a theater background, says that she often grew frustrated having to constantly perform in someone else’s plays and recite someone else’s lines. “It’s wonderful to say I have this idea and I’m going to make it happen,” she says. Many of Nasty and Jonny’s burlesque performances – “because we’re such big nerds” -- revolve around sci-fi or super-hero themes. They call their James Bond 007 piece “You Only Pinch Twice.” “The Search for Naked Planet,” meanwhile, revolves around a super-villain’s attempts to attain a “strip ray.” “Burlesque appeals to so many different people because the performers bring so much of themselves to the stage,” Jonny says. According to Scarlet, the women that approach her after shows are just as inspired as she was she was attending burlesque shows. “Most of the responses I get after shows are almost always women,” she says. “They find what we do very empowering to them. Girls identify with stronger women no matter how skinny or how heavy,” they may be. The performers in the Brooklyn Burlesque Blitz do come in all shapes and sizes. “It’s a format that embraces beauty in all its sizes and shapes,” Jonny says. “It doesn’t matter what you look like – you’re beauty is there.” For Scarlet, beauty runs in the family. Her “Kissing Cousins” go-go partner Gigi La Femme is actually a blood relative. “We grew up going to dance classes and doing those silly girl things,” Scarlet laughs. Nasty says that now is definitely a good time for bawdy burlesque. “It’s definitely more relaxed [nowadays],” she says. “There’s not that terror of the body.” Even so, burlesque performers don’t actually get naked – they draw the line at pasties and g-strings. Nasty even did a PG-13 rated burlesque show for an all-ages audience in New Jersey a little while back that was full of 14-year-old boys. “It was one of the best audiences I’ve ever had,” she says. Morton, meanwhile, says he “almost never leaves Brooklyn.” This is a place for me to do what I want to do,” he says. Most of the performers taking part in the Brooklyn Burlesque Blitz are either married or in long-term relationships. “By definition a burlesque performer is an amazing person,” Morton says. “And amazing people don’t say single for long.” Tickets to the Brooklyn Burlesque Blitz are $15. Doors open at 8 p.m. Showtime is 9 p.m. For more information log onto www.burlesqueblitz.com or call Southpaw at 718-230-0236 or North Six at 718-599-5103.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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