Critiquing women in lingerie can be a tricky thing. On one hand, it’s not nice to stomp on someone’s feelings when they’re so vulnerable; yet, undue praise without proper consideration is simply patronizing.
Believe it or not, I’ve seen a great many women in their skivvies, so what I won’t do is simply play the fanboy and feign excitement over some ass shaking directed my way. So, I’m hoping my vast expertise with half-naked women and sexual politics will help me out as I attempt to document the Burlesque Downtown Underground’s historic performance last night at the Folly.
The Burlesque Revival at The Folly was kind of a big deal because it marked the return of the theatrical entertainment genre to the Downtown Kansas City theater after decades and rather huge cultural shift. Downtown was a different place when The Folly originally hosted burlesque. There wasn’t even talk of a Renaissance and real gangsters still walked these Cowtown streets during the last, local burlesque epoch. This local neo-burlesque movement doesn’t really have a lot in common with the deadenders of days gone by, mostly because there is a feminist shtick related to empowerment when modern day burlesque broads reveal their pasties.
Still, booty shaking and ladies underwear weren’t the only attractions. In fact, I’ve seen more than a couple of BDU shows and I think this one was just a tad more entertaining because of the strong ensemble that organizers assembled.
Susanna “Lucky Deluxe” Lee and Jason Divad are no strangers to the local entertainment scene but their addition to the lineup was a nice compliment to the choreographed dance numbers of the BDU. Lucky Deluxe killed with her first bit entitled “Lucky’s Lunch Date” that offered a strip tease and a nasty poem retelling an excursion involving sushi. Divad won the crowd over with a bit of juggling and fire eating reminicint of the silent movie era.
Alacartoona seemed especially well-suited to this showcase given their cabaret act. More than any other of the performers they seemed most comfortable with the big stage and their two songs where the highlight of my evening. Especially an irreverent number “Every Saint Needs A Sinner” that included a bit of sexual innuendo and Catholic mythology.
Local singer/actress Emily Frost also performed with two ensembles but her sleepy jazz interludes didn’t exactly move the crowd.
The Voler – Thieves of Flight Aerial Ensemble offered a new high-flying direction for the BDU and the typical hoots and hollers gave way to some genuine amazement over the acrobatics performed with some rather reliable fabrics. It was definitely an enthralling spectacle of tangled mid-air movement but after the fourth set I think most members got the point – These ladies were fit and flexible and certainly worth checking out at a solo showcase.
While friends of the BDU helped out a bunch, the “meat” of the show was comprised of dance numbers choreographed by its members, which I still feel has an element of a “high school talent show” to it.
The exception to this rule is Kat Kimmitz (a.k.a. Puss-N-boots) who is obviously the best trained and most talented dancer in the troop and her solo performance gave the audience a glimpse of burlesque dancing taken to a professional level.
Meanwhile, most of the other dancers had cute routines and funny concepts but seemed like hobbyists more befitting a summer camp outing.
From mic outages owing to dead batteries, to sorority girl dancing mice skits set to the classic rock radio staple “Blinded by the Light” by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, the jiggling ladies were having fun and showing skin. And providing a lot of eye candy far more thoughtful and fun than strip club fare, but not quite as captivating and real as