If a topless woman was spotted swiveling her hips on stage in New York City, she could have spent a night in jail. Manhattan’s stripteasers have come a long way since being the mistresses of raids during the 1930’s. Burlesque made its grand return in the 90’s and shimmying pinups have become the norm in venues. However, all fads come and go, which bears the question: is burlesque dead? If one show on a Thursday evening can sell out in a matter of hours, then you know the answer is no. Thankfully, the spectacle of glittering corsets and twirling pasties is alive and well, all proven by some of the most tantalizing entertainers. Queens of Burlesque, held on March 11th at Greenwich Village’s Le Poisson Rouge, dazzled its many fans, but more importantly, proved that burlesque never left.
A growing crowd in their best throwback couture enters the gorgeous black and red velvet cabaret nightclub, which gives the feel of a Parisian speakeasy where French chanteuse Edith Piaf croons her heart out. Audiences cheer as Murray Hill aka “Mr. Showbiz” enters the stage, causing endless laughter. The master comedian proudly introduces the royals of tease, all winners of the annual Miss Exotic World pageant. Surprisingly, each seductress never outshines the other, only displaying their wildly erotic talents, leaving everyone begging for an encore.
While some of the stars are based in the city, Queens of Burlesque wouldn’t be complete without its international lineup. Chicago’s Michelle L’Amour presents a breathtaking tribute to late burlesque legend Sally Rand with a fan dance that puts even the most trained swans at the American Ballet Theatre to shame. Seattle’s Indigo Blue channels legendary stripper Wild Cherry, making golden Arabian nights come true. And then there’s Immodesty Blaize of the UK, a cross between Bridget Bardot and a Las Vegas showgirl. Dripping in rhinestones, she slowly peels off gloves and stockings, then straddling a lucky seat. Who would have thought that a country known for constant rain could have such a glorious beauty? Fortunately for viewers, Blaize wasn’t the only one to get viewers hot and bothered.
New York is famous for leading the neo-burlesque movement, which explains dancer Angie Pontani, Queens of Burlesque’s co-producer, receiving one of the loudest rounds of applause. We don’t know if it’s how she sinfully gyrates against a bongo drum or simply her charming wit, but the Italian stallionette masters both with ease. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if the ladies were from Brooklyn or dare we say Jersey, they’re all bombshells that blow up the stage with each heart stopping performance.
With Le Poisson Rouge’s Queens of Burlesque, we can rest assure that this sexy art is still in style. All hail to the flesh!
Words by Stephanie Nolasco | All photos Copyright Allen Lee 2010. All rights reserved.