Thursday, September 24, 2009

Shake, shimmy and shine: NY Burlesque Festival returns

By Meredith Deliso

At this year’s New York Burlesque Festival, from October 1-4, you may come for the scintillating entertainment, but leave ready to put on your own show.

Through hair and makeup stations, pasties for sale, and classes, you’ll have all the basics to get in the act yourself.

With dozens of burlesque pros strutting their stuff over the course of four nights, you can also learn by watching the pros themselves. And with half the festivities happening in Brooklyn, you won’t have to go very far.

On October 1, the festival throws a teaser party at Williamsburg’s Public Assembly (70 North 6th St.), hosted by The World Famous BOB from New York City, featuring music from the Two Man Gentleman Band, and performances from over a dozen ladies, including Miss Bonnie DUNN, The Incredible Edible Akynos, The Maine Attraction, and Miss Saturn, all of New York, as well as out-of-towners like Trixie Little (Baltimore) and Miss Cara Milk (Vancouver). The night will also feature Dr. Sketchys, where you can try your hand at drawing burlesque beauty Amber Ray.

The Gowanus-based venue The Bell House (149 7th St.) hosts the premiere party on October 2, hosted by Scotty the Blue Bunny and featuring local favorites Gigi La Femme, aerialist Harvest Moon, and, among many others, Little Brooklyn.

“It’s an homage to the infamous legend of Little Egypt, the scandalous ‘hoochie-coochie’ girl of the Nile, as well as an obvious nod to my beloved hometown,” says the performer of her stage name. The Homecrest resident recently earned the title “Queen of Comedy” at this year’s Burlesque Hall of Fame Pageant in Las Vegas for an act she’ll be performing at the New York City festival. “I start out as a typical cartoon of a tourist who might have stumbled onto the stage by accident – a turn of events transforms the voyeuristic sightseer into the item on display.”

Other acts promise to be equally entertaining, including Dirty Martini, Jo Boobs, The Glamazons (from TV’s “America’s Got Talent”), Julie Atlas Muz, Melody Sweets, and Gravity Plays Favorites, on stage at B.B. King (237 W. 42nd St.) in Manhattan in at The Saturday Spectacular on October 3.

“They do an acrobatic pole dancing number, which is always a crowd favorite,” says Jen Gapay, a Kensington resident and the founder of the festival, now in its seventh year running, of Gravity. “[The festival’s] all really a variety – from circus performers to classic strip tease.”

The festival closes with a bang on Sunday, October 4, with The Golden Pastie Awards at Le Poisson Rouge (158 Bleecker St.) in Manhattan, where the performers are awarded for attributes such as “Biggest Hair in Burlesque” and “Performed with a Positively Perfect Posterior.”

If feeling courageous, that night, as well as Saturday, Jo Boob’s School of Burlesque will be offering classes so you can hone your skills, and every night will feature vendors, from Twirly Girl tee-shirts and pasties, corsets from Dragon Corsets, and free hairstyles and makeovers from Tease Salon.

“You can take a class, draw, and get your hair done!” says Gapay.

The New York Burlesque Festival is October 1-4. For more information, including tickets cost and times, go to


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