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Hotsy Totsy Burlesque's Tribute to Stephen King

by Daniel Neiden
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Thursday Oct 20, 2016
Hotsy Totsy Burlesque's Tribute to Stephen King

In July, I reviewed the excellent Hotsy Totsy Burlesque at the Slipper Room, with their titillating slap and tickly Harry Potter tribute show, "Fantastic Breasts and Where to Find Them." Last week, I returned and laughed myself silly as the Hotsy's stripped through their high concept, low comedy, hard-bodied "Hotsy Totsy Burlesque's Tribute to Stephen King" tribute show. It's a blast and I recommend it as a great friends' night out, stocking stuffer, etc. because there is so little authentic underground entertainment left to discover.

I left the Slipper Room thinking of the phrase, "Live and in person." It's an almost vanishing image, unless it's commercial and expensive, which Hotsy is not. It is organic and accessible. My formative "dating" years were spent night crawling New York in the late '70s after dinner and a show. It was a fertile field: Spalding Gray at the Performing Garage; Dick Shawn at The Village Gate; Karen Finley in someone's Chelsea loft... small stages in crowded venues, elbows in, balancing the drink, and if the stars aligned, you could stumble onto the enduring, endearing, malleable craft of Burlesque.

I actually saw Chesty Morgan do a burlesque show, and still have a feather from her white boa that drifted onto our table. What she crafted and performed using the title song to "Cabaret" will always be a happy memory.

The Stephen King Tribute Show featured some excellent burlesque performers, including Erika Rodgers, Miranda Raven, Puss-N-Boots, Pearls Daily, Matt Knife and Cubby Hall, Apathy Angel, Raina Bow and Clara Coquette.

For flavor's sake, ask yourself how you would make a burlesque striptease out Stephen King's creations. Hotsy Totsy totally ran the table with off-center-yet-sensual offerings from the lesser-known "Secret Window" to King's colossus, "The Shining." Yes, Hotsy Totsy certainly validates the adage that "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." I'll tell you how they play.

One of the highlights, replete with memory-making images, was the stunning Pearls Daily, who beguiled us with ballet on toe shoes, a wispy flowered dress, red balloons, and a sad, vacant stare; and then transported us to King's hellish Joyland carnival. We all went willingly as Daily liberated her balloons, in both senses of the word. Not sure if that's sexist, but it's burlesque, and ya just go with it.

Another searing image, the porcelain Apathy Angel, portrayed the eponymous Carrie's mother, Margaret White, putting the fear of God into us, as her fire and brimstone gave way to bumping and grinding with abandon, and through it all, she never let go of her dashboard Jesus, which made for some pretty lurid posing, as she, um, simulated putting the fear of God in herself.

And, if you've read "The Raft," Matt Knife and Cubby Hall found a way to channel the attack of black slime from "Creepshow 2," and make it both adorably naughty and wickedly funny. I also still carry the memory of Clara Coquette's very (very) steamy nod to to this TV season's best new character, "Eleven" from "Stranger Things."

Furthermore, everyone enjoyed the classic go-go stylings of Erika Rodgers, a lithe and limber vision prowling about in her scanties, but sporting drawn-on facial hair to channel Jonny Depp's "Mort Rainey" in "Secret Window," which we all agreed was cleverly distracting. But not for long; temperatures rose as the arousing (there, I said it) and very feline Puss-N-Boots put a fresh spin (thank you, tassles) on "Sleepwalker." And remember Kathy Bates in "Misery?" Raina Bow does, and this very sultry blind date from hell channels a wicked sledgehammer to dispatch any hard thing in her way. Again, go with it.

This reportage is meant to pique curiosity and celebrate the particularity of Hotsy Totsy's burlesque. The act of just stripping doesn't hold a candle (or a dashboard Jesus) to the cumulative satisfaction derived from burlesque, but when these artists add expert stripping (yes, you study it) to their outrageous performance concepts, it lands. And it lingers.

Shows this good don't just fall from the sky, and Joe the Shark gets high marks for curating, directing and co-writing. Hosting burlesque is no small thing, either. It helps to be a raconteur, and no one spins a better yarn to tie the acts together than Cherry Pitz and Handsome Brad (a cameo by the fabulous Todd Johnson as a dead-on Jack Torrence from "The Shining" was an unexpected bonus!), and our sumptuous hosts did their damndest to gain the audience's help, a la King's "IT," to kill the "monster who appears in many forms" and save everyone from certain death. All this, and G-strings too.

Start making your Christmas lists. I highly recommend being a burlesque gifter. You'll be the cool one, and there will be less evil in the world.

"Hotsy Totsy Burlesque's Tribute to Stephen King" was held on October 13 at The Slipper Room, 167 Orchard St., 2nd Floor. They hold tribute shows on the second Thursday of every month. For tickets or information, visit www.slipperroom.com or www.hotsytotsyburlesque.com

Daniel Neiden is a writer and composer who develops socially conscious theater projects.


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