The Spellout

Art, Culture & Unavoidable Spite

Category: Burlesque (page 1 of 3)

Show ’em who’s Joss: Inside Whedonesque Burlesque

Sister Piston as Jayne Cobb
PHOTO OF SISTER PISTON AS JAYNE COBB:  GEOFF CARTER

So far, this has been a summer of reduced expectations. The weather sucks, the economy remains zombielike, and the cinemas are awash in three-dimensional dreck. It’s about time that something rose to meet our hopes and aspirations – and Whedoneseque Burlesque, a burlesque show based on the works of the king nerd that brought us Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Firefly and Dollhouse, may well be the thing we need to lift our souls and put the feeling back into our extremities. If burlesque routines based on characters played Alyson Hannigan and Adam Baldwin aren’t enough to kickstart the economy, part the clouds and send Michael Bay back to hell, who knows what is?

Here’s the thing, though: If you’re just hearing about this now, chances are that you’re not going, no matter how badly you’d like to see Firefly’s Jayne Cobb (portrayed above, and in the show, by the lovely Sister Piston) showing off her guns. Tickets to both nights of Whedonesque – Friday, July 15 and Saturday, July 16 at Theater Off Jackson – sold out within 48 hours of going on sale. The best that I can do for you is to give you an interview with Jessica Obrist of Jo Jo Stiletto Productions, the captain of this here boat and the woman who once convinced me to do a burlesque routine based on The Big Lebowski. Trust her, as I once did.

What’s a Joss Whedon?

A man who once said “I’d rather make a show a hundred people need to see than a show that a thousand people want to see.” Also, like me, he’s a ginger.

And what is Whedonesque Burlesque?

A celebration of the works of Joss Whedon, with an extra wink and a smile.

What are we going to see? Will Buffy’s Scoobies be in evidence? Will the dolls be un-housed?

What fun is a show if you read all the spoilers beforehand? I’ll say this: Buffy and Firefly fans will be extremely happy, and fans of Dollhouse and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog will also get a thrill. We’ve brought in some obvious characters and some not-so-obvious. And to quote an anonymous friend, you will NOT see “Shepherd’s bush.”

Are all the performers in the show true nerds? If I quiz them, will they know how Dark Willow got that way and why Shepherd Book seems to know so much about the inner workings of the Alliance?

There’s no Kinsey scale to describe one’s true Joss nerdiness. If you are in this show, you are a true nerd. The first group rehearsal involved lists on giant Post-It notes. How nerdy is that? Also, several performers are reading fanfic as “research.”

But we’re not all experts. In fact, I barely know a lick about Buffy and Angel. When Buffy first aired, I was too busy dressing up like Dana Scully and making X-Files dioramas. I was known as “that Scully Girl” on campus. I’ve wrangled in a few “Buffy” consultants to compensate.

Why do this? Why get your Whedon in my burlesque and your burlesque in my Whedon?

This isn’t cosplay pageantry, and it isn’t merely your favorite characters stripping. It’s much, much more. I swear by my pretty floral bonnet you’ll understand once you’ve seen the show.

Here’s some background. Not long ago I was inspired to create a Dr. Horrible act after seeing the recent Balagan Theater production of the show (three times, mind you). I did some research and stumbled upon a Whedonesque Burlesque show in Madison, WI. The name alone made things tingle in my brain. Those nice folk were kind enough to give me their blessing to use the same name for a Seattle production. I’ve found the various Joss communities to be very supportive of each other — they’re quite similar to the burlesque community in that regard.

Have you heard from the Joss? Does he approve?

I did hear from a girl who knows a guy who knows a guy who may or may not be working with Joss on a project. Said person asked for permission to tell Joss, and the simple response was hell yes! I suspect that if he did know about this production, he’d find it amusing. He seems quite supportive of all flavors of fan art.

Will Whedonesque Burlesque make me want to watch Angel again? Because, truthfully, I don’t see that happening.

Sadly, Angel is riding in the back seat for this one. I’m sure there is burlesque inspiration to be found in Angel … not sure where. I’m sure we’ll tap into it, someday.

Is this a one-time deal, or is it the dawning of an age of nerd-based Seattle burlesque?

I’m of the belief that you see how the audience responds before you plan the next production, but I sincerely hope there will be another Whedon-based show or something equally awesome. In the meantime, check out Verses at Sinner Saint; Portland’s Geeklesque, by Critical Hit Burlesque; the Atomic Bombshells’ Lost in Space, which will be mounted again in October; and Tempting Tarts Burlesque’s upcoming fundraiser for GeekGirlCon.

Sweetness Follows

Land of the Sweets - Ballet Floriadora
PHOTO BY CHRIS BLAKELEY

I’m so sorry. I’m afraid I’m going to be one of those assholes who begins talking abut Christmas before Halloween is even done. But here’s the thing: I want this to be the year that we see “Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker” at the Triple Door … and if I wait until late November to tell you about this, as had been my way in the past, all the good seats are going to sell out and we’ll end up viewing this “spectacle of ecdysiastic pageantry” from a remove of some feet, and that cat won’t fight.

As you may know, Seattle has one of the strongest burlesque scenes in the country, and this special holiday show — now in its fourth year — delivers its best and brightest in an ever-surprising package: Lily Verlaine, Miss Indigo Blue, Waxie Moon, Kitten La Rue, Babette La Fave, Inga Ingénue, and the Aerialistas are just a few of the gifts you’ll find in stockings. Some of the shows are $25 presale, while others go as high as $35; here’s the part where I remind you that you’re ponying up for a quality production, and that the tickets will cost appreciably more on day-of. Assuming, of course, you can even get any.

It’s Wonderful, it’s Glittorus

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Burlesque shows happen pretty much every week here in Seattle. (At the very least, I’ve noted two or three burly events happening in town every month for the past year. I’m an unpaid tastemaker; it’s my job to know this.) But few of those shows have the superstar lineup you’ll see in this weekend’s “Glittorus! A Fundraiser for the Lambert House,” happening this Friday, June 18 and and Saturday, June 19 at the Rendezvous. Scheduled to appear: The Shanghai Pearl, Hottie McNaughty, The Yes Sisters, Faggedy Randy, Iva Handfull, Cherry Manhattan, Jennifer Jasper, Pinky Shines and many more. We’ll be going to this gig for two reasons: it’s drawing former Rat City Rollergirl and Friend of the Spellout Jo Jo Stiletto out of burlesque semi-retirement, and because our $15 advance ticket will benefit a community center that looks after Seattle’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth when they’ve nowhere else to go for answers and support. Plus, we like pasties. Sue us.

The weekend in brief

Folklife 06

The 39th Northwest Folklife Festival is happening right now at Seattle Center, and it continues through Monday. I know the weather’s lousy right now, but the sun is supposed to peek out later today and most of tomorrow — and you don’t need a sunny day to appreciate happy music or hippies working hula-hoops. You only need eyes and ears, and maybe a hat in case it drizzles. Suggested cover is $10.

Tonight at SIFF: “K-20: The Fiend with 20 Faces,” “Beyond Ipanema” and “Amer.” Movies are good. SIFF movies are crazy good.

And Sunday night, Highway 99 Blues Club sees the return of “Baked Beans and Beauty Queens,” the annual fundraising show by the Rat City Rollergirls’ own Sockit Wenches. You’ll get live music from Tumbledown Country, Purty Mouth and Squirrel Butter, and burlesque performances by Fuschia Foxx and The Shanghai Pearl — practically an en-tire festival’s worth of entertainment for $10. And did I mention the rollergirls? There will be rollergirls. There must be.

Inside the Triple Door: “Burlesque Undressed”

Via that friend of Spellout Seattle (and humanity in general) Paula The Swedish Housewife: On March 23, the Triple Door presents Miss Immodesty Blaize and the West Coast debut of Alison Grist’s film “Burlesque Undressed,” whose soft-NSFW trailer is above. Paula sez:

“Burlesque has shimmied itself into the mainstream ever so slyly … now even Cher and Christina are hopping on the bump and grind wagon! … ‘Burlesque Undressed’ is a great addition to this growing (genre,) and is a loving look into the history, costumes, and the current bombastic explosion of Burlesque, with historical film clips and interviews with costumers, historians and several of the beautiful and original Ladies of the Golden Era of Burlesque, including Joan Arline. “

Mlles. Blaize and Arline will perform after the screening, accompanied by local favorites Miss Indigo Blue, Miss Inga Ingenue and Miss Dirty Martini. It’s a goddamn extravaganza, that’s what, and you should get your tickets today, while they’re still $25. They’ll go up to $28 on day-of-show, assuming you can find any.

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