Friday, January 23, 2009


Every once in a while I get it in my head to do something I wouldn't normally do, like attend Point Break the Play. This week I felt I was long overdue and I noticed in some of the local papers that the Midwest Burlesk show was playing Thursday through Sunday at the Ritz Theater, right next to the 331 (home of Liberally Drinking). It fit the bill, and I pinged Kyle to ask him if he'd go. He was game, so we decided to make it a full Thursday, and hit Origami for sushi, and then the show.

Sushi was great, and the highlight was trying Monkfish liver, which the menu touted as the foie gras of the sea. Fortunately, I can't picture anyone trying to force feed a monkfish, which is why I don't eat real foie gras. I wasn't sure what to expect and was pleasantly surprised. It was smooth, with a slight tang from the lemon and sauce, and had a light fish flavor that wasn't at all like eating a piece of fish fat. Just a light, sea flavor that you hear about on Food TV, but never really bump into if you're not a world traveler or living in Seattle. Delicious. And that machine with the two bottles sticking out of it. That's a sake warmer. I guess I should have known that, but I've always been a cold sake sort of guy.

On to the burlesque (burlesk). I realize that no matter how I explain this, there's likely to be a wide swath of people I know who think, "I don't care what he says. That must have been lame. He was drunk. Or an idiot. No. I know Scott. It was both." I'm not denying I'm an idiot. I'm not denying I was drinking. The Ritz Theater had a wide selection of wines and beer and I had some great Angry Planet Pale Ale from Flat Earth Brewing. But the show was wonderful. Truly spectacular. Seriously. Damn. Fun.

One of my early memories is staying in a hotel and how excited my parents were to discover that on pay television there was a burlesque show. Despite how young I was, they let me watch the show and told me about seeing live shows when they were younger. There was a guy singing about being the top banana, and later in the show a woman came on the screen to do her act. My mother was ecstatic that she was a tassel twirler, and when the woman gave evidence to how she could twirl in both directions at once, my mother was visibly and vocally happy about how professional she was because it took real talent to twirl appropriately. The Midwest Burlesk show gave me an idea of why having seen live shows when she was younger would have been such a memorable event.

My favorite acts of the night were:

Nadine Dubois - the emcee for the night. Funny. Sexy (I never thought I'd say that about someone in sparkly red lipstick). She sings. She does burlesque. She makes jokes about whiskey and cowbells. She was engaging from front to back and really pulled the show together.

The first act - I don't know who they were, but a strip tease done in snowmobile suits, furry hats, and other accoutrements. Hilarious.

Foxy Tann and the Wham Bam Thank You Ma'ams
- great dance moves, afros and Hendrix's Foxy Lady. Some serious cheering from the audience.

Ned the Magnificent - not really a stripper. He was the comic entertainment. He did a superman schtick with a folding chair that was great.

Boylesque Hot Toddy - not quite equal time for the guys. But I point out this member of Belmont Burlesque of Chicago (who also had a great red head doing an act) because his act was so classically burlesque and done so well. The audience seemed to be about 60/40 women, so his act was well met. Four of the women from Belmont Burlesque came out with very large pillows and did a dance, then met in the middle of the stage and brought the pillows together in a 2x2 formation as Boylesque stripped behind the pillows. Left - lots of flesh, hat on head. Right - lots of flesh, hat on head. Front, with the fedora strategically placed.

Fanny Tastic
- Fanny came out dressed in a very shiny flight attendant outfit, carrying a flight case, the sort your mother converted into a makeup case, or a storage container for old photos. She bent over and pulled out a belt and demonstrated how to prepare for your fight. Pulled out a can of coke and poo pooed it in favor of a bottle of Jack Daniels. Then did an amazingly athletic dance.

Michelle L'amour - I saw Michelle on television when she was doing her balloon dance on America's Got Talent. The Hoff and company ruined her gig which seemed silly when they made fun of her not-for-family-viewing antics, because she did the balloon dance during the burlesque show, floating away several pieces of clothing, and it was funny and sexy at the same time. But that wasn't the highlight. The highlight was her show-closing performance. Michelle had a large heart rolled out on the stage that looked like it was covered wth your grandmother's old, green couch. She did a great burlesque dance on stage that then moved to the heart, which had posts around the outside so she could do some acrobatics along the sides and top. Just when you thought she was done, more clothing came off, her champagne glass turned out to be full of baby oil instead, and hands shot out through the heart-couch to rub in the baby oil. Kyle put it well. He said it was like a fireworks display. You kept expecting the end, and she kept upping the stakes. This is the part where you think I'm crazy, or a perv, but you had to be there to see it to appreciate just what a show it was.

They're sold out for Friday and Saturday, but tickets are still available for Sunday (and Lily's Burlesque does regular shows at Bryant Lake and Michelle L'amour in Chicago) and it's definitely an event you can bring a date to (and many people did).


Anonymous said...

I spent some time lobbying Matthew during the workday and then Cynthia (via Facebook this evening) that they really should go see the show. They're probably now quite convinced I've just entered some weird state of being pervy, but it really was one of the most fun, entertaining events I've been to in a very long time.

Your summary does a pretty good job of outlining the highlights, but think you and I would both agree it doesn't truly capture the full experience. The dancers, the live hot jazz ensemble, the singing and acrobatics, and Nadine's emceeing and humor between acts made for a combination that I would say really has to be witnessed to be fully appreciated.

As an aside, I think the first act you referred to were The Ladyslippers, who brought an extremely Minnesotan flair to their act...

Alex said...

This sounds great, I was all ready to grab some tix for today(last show) but they're all sold. Oh well, next year.

PTW said...

This really was the coolest thing I've ever seen on stage.

TallBrad said...

Scooter, you can win a burlesque dance lesson. You really should sign up.

Here is the description:
One winner will get a private Burlesque lesson courtesy of and Lili's Burlesque. Whether it’s tassel twirling, the boa or just a refresher on your general stage presence, this lesson is worth $100 and redeemable at your convenience.

Anonymous said...

If you enter and win per Brad's suggestion, you should tell them that you want to learn tassel twirling. Just explain that you can already twirl certain portions of your anatomy, but you're looking to expand your knowledge base...

Anonymous said...

Naughty Natanya from Belmont Burlesque here. As much as we'd love to take credit for the smoldering hotness that is Hot Toddy, he's not part of our crew. He performed his act with some of Michelle L'Amour's Starlets. We're fans and friends of Lavender Cabaret, for sure, but they're a different outfit from ours.

We performed on Saturday night and had a wonderful time! Lots of talent and very inspiring, for sure. Glad you had fun at the fest! The numbers you pointed out were some of my favorites as well.