Bring Your Flask

A Form of Currency: UCLA Graduate Open Studios

dscn1970-e1276139717586It’s all too easy—especially in a city permeated by the entertainment industry and material gain in general—to forget that there are still many artists out there committing their lives to their craft without the slightest hope of a monetary reward, and that there are a vast amount of studios in operation that have absolutely nothing to do with film or television. In fact, at the UCLA Graduate Open Studios in Culver City this past Saturday, I found that there were at least 30 dedicated artists at work who were not only putting their pieces up without price tags, they were most likely taking out student loans to do it.

This is not to say these young practitioners were exercising pure artistic selflessness; the hope, I gathered, as I traversed through the maze of sectioned-off galleries amidst packs of the hippest and most attractive art crowd I’ve seen in some time, was that people would notice the stand-out work, that they would pay attention (as opposed to money).

And attention can be a form of currency in itself. My colleague Helen, who I attended the event with discovered this fact in the most literal sense. We were vocally admiring the work of Max Rain (a stand-out artist, for sure)—in particular, a photograph of his that shows a piled arrangement of 20 or more dead and deformed rodents he collected as an employee of an animal shelter, the result of which amounts to a kind of macabre yet beautiful collage—when Max himself approached in the most amiable, non-egotistical manner possible in that situation. Helen told Max that if she had money, she would put the piece above her bed, to which he replied, “Really? If you promise to put it above your bed, I’ll give you a print for free.” He wasn’t lying. The mere idea of someone posting his work in their bedroom was, to him, compensation in itself.

I did, however, get a hint from another one of the artists, Sarah Dougherty—an incredibly talented painter who pieces together large LA-set landscapes with found objects, tapestry, and other pop-up book-esque features—as to who the real target audience might be. “We had our professor critiques this week,” she sighed in exasperation to me, going on to explain how most of the reviews were positive, but one in particular had her completely devastated.

Being in the “real world,” or at least the world outside of collegiate critique, it may seem difficult to relate to Sarah’s (or even Max’s) point of view. Who cares what a professor thinks? They’re not making any money either. But when you think about it, our art world—at least the part of it I’m interested in—is not so different from that Culver City rat maze I danced around on Saturday night, snatching up complimentary cheese and wine where I could find it. All artists, for the most part, are not looking to feed their wallets or even their ego. That’s not why they spend hours upon hours, day after day, inside tiny white rooms, experimenting with pigments or tweaking the electrical feeds on video installations. Why do they do it then? The truth is I don’t know. I’m tempted to say sex, but it probably has more to do with communication, putting something out there that’s you, says you—and how can something not be you when you spend that much time and energy on it?—then having someone else come up, take a look, and say, you know, I’d like to post you above my bed. Maybe it does have to do with sex.

- By Joshua Morrison

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Posted in Art, Bring Your Flask, Conceptual, Contemporary Art, Culver City, Film, Food & Drink, Galleries, Installation, Mixed media, Neighborhoods, Painting, Performance, Personalities, Photography, Video Art No Comments »

Night of the Demons, Fest of the Scream’ns

If downtown Hollywood wasn’t a horror show already, now it is. The 10th annual Screamfest began this past weekend at the Hollywood and Highland Center, and for once, the homeless Michael Jackson impersonators weren’t the only ones in costume. The goths, the geeks, the girls with dragon tatoos…they came out in droves on Friday night for the premiere film of the fest, Night of the Demons, a remake of the 1988 Kevin S. Tenney horror flick, this one directed by Adam Gierasch.

I too made my may to the Mann Chinese Theatre on Friday, not just to leer at the bursting bosoms of B-movie scream-queens, but to see the kinds of cinematic staples any good cult horror film demands: irrational plot-lines, flash-cuts of demonic puppets, a gluttony of gore and fake boobs, and of course, at least one spooky mirror scene. Night of the Demons did not disappoint on any of these counts.

If the plot could be summed up in a semi-logical manner (which it can’t), this is maybe how it would sound: Loopy, goth-chick Angela (Shannon Elizabeth) rents out a haunted New Orleans mansion and throws a massive Halloween bash. Party gets broken up by cops, but seven random stragglers (four of whom happen to have past romantic entanglements) remain behind. It’s only when this horny crew of attractive 20-somethings—with the exception of a rather bloated Edward Furlong—realize the gates have mysteriously been locked that things get weird. Angela and Colin (Furlong) stumble upon a coterie of decayed skeletons in the basement (seven to be exact), and as is wont to happen anytime anyone sticks a digit in the jaw of a skeleton, Angela gets her finger bitten. It’s not long before the skeleton bite takes its toll and Angela transforms into a demon, complete with jaundiced eyes, horns, pasty skin, and worms for vomit. (Note: to morph temporarily back into human form, a demon hast only to wobble their head like a baffled Looney Tunes character). Angela gets the hang of her demonization, and quickly goes on the hunt for converts. Her method of seduction: sex, sex and more sex. One make-out session, one lesbian  tryst, and one uncomfortable insertion later, all but three of the house-mates are demons.

The remainder of the movie is basically a string of punk-fueled demon fights with brief interludes of non-sensical back-story (basically, the demons need seven souls to effectively destroy the WORLD). That is not to say the viewing experience was anything less than a blast though. The filmmakers are quite familiar with their territory, and often exploit their own narrative pitfalls in the name of comedy. Action-sequences are filmed with the chaotic energy of a mosh-pit, and Furlong, despite his girth, delivers a great performance.

To me, Night of the Demons, and Screamfest in general, represent an important part of cinema. It’s the fun part, the visceral part, the part that makes you clap out loud in the middle of a scene, the part that knows something gross is going to pop out of that mirror any second but still gets scared when it happens. It’s the part that wants to share the experience with another person, even if it’s a dark theatre full of curious outcasts like you.

- By Joshua Morrison

The 10th Annual Screamfest runs until the 17th. For more information on Screamfest and the upcoming films on schedule, please visit www.screamfestla.com, or call 310-358-3273.

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You’re Just Projecting

450Randy and Jason Sklar, better known as the Sklar Brothers, even better known as the hosts of the only ESPN Classic show I’ve ever watched on a regular basis—Cheap Seatsand possibly best known as the Cain and Abel of Hollywood agents in HBO’s Entourage, got their comedic starts amidst the burgeoning “alternative” comedy scene of mid-90’s New York. Back then and over there, such now-defunct clubs as the famous Luna Lounge used to hold regular open-mic nights, where names like Marc Maron, Greg Fitzsimmons, Louis CK, Dave Attell, Sarah Silverman, and many, many more once tuned their respective crafts. The Sklars didn’t immediately fit in. In fact, they stood out, and in a bad way. They’re identical twins, which, in the eyes of the comedy club weary, was synonymous with hacky—not far off from ventriloquism, as both shticks tended to traditionally rely on the straight-man/wacky-man dynamic. In interviews, Randy and Jason have talked about their initial struggle against this assumption, not so much with their audiences as within their act. They had to work hard to eventually to find their patented rhythm of completing one another’s sentences, riffing on topics the other brings up, never disowning their uncanny likeness, yet never relying on it either. Basically, they had to find their true collective self, a feat which simply would not have been possible without the open-mic.

These days, the Sklars still perform almost everywhere in Los Angeles, but have also transitioned into the world of film and television, an industry with lots of microphones (as well as projectors, the mic’s visual equivalent), few of which are “open,” almost none of which are free.  Hence, “Open Projector Night,” hosted by Randy and Jason Sklar, this Tuesday, August 17, 8:00 PM at the Hammer Museum. Free popcorn, cash bar, and a first-come-first-serve policy for any under-ten-minute film or video out there, these semi-regular nights have developed a reputation for rowdiness, rudeness, and yes, even the occasional cinematic gem. Come screen-test your private masterpiece (submissions begin at 7 PM), or just support your local filmmakers by getting drunk and voting them off the docket completely.

The Sklar Brothers, more than most, know what its like to struggle for an identity, and they’ve kind of made an on-screen career out of it (not to mention, paved the way for stellar teams like the Walsh Brothers). So if you’re tired of being constantly confused for someone you’re not, of having to dress different to stick out, of explaining the subtle yet imperative dissimilarities between you and that other idiot, just leave it in the hands of Sklars. They may not love your work, they may make some clever jokes at your expense, but they’ll at least give you a mic.

For  more information about “Open Projector Night” and Hammer Public Programs (all of which are free), please visit www.hammer.ucla.edu, or call 310.443.7000.

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Posted in Art, Bring Your Flask, Contemporary Art, Film, Food & Drink, Museums, Neighborhoods, Performance, Personalities, Save + Misbehave, Video Art, West LA No Comments »

deFineArtsLA Exclusive: Dave Hill’s Genuine Hipness

What is a hipster sense of humor? Surely it has something to do with irony—the hipster’s original sin—or at least the thin version of irony that exists in wearing a D.A.R.E. t-shirt, while smoking a cigarette outside of the Silver Lake Lounge. But even irony has lost its all-consuming flavor amongst UCB and Largo crowds. Hipster humor also has something feminine about it, non-confrontational in its satire; it’s about a style and a matter of intention more than it is the content of a joke. Absurdity is actually its most potent ingredient, a commitment to the weird, a detached joy in the randomness of things.

In a name, it’s interviewer/performer/writer/comedian Dave Hill, who will be performing his one-man show, “Dave Hill: Big In Japan,” tonight, at 9:00 PM at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. Hill looks like the character of Dim from Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, and the pitch of his voice ranges from acid-trip-high to wallowing-drunk-low in a matter of seconds. He has become known for his fast-cut, Borat-style interviews—which have been featured on This American Life—in which he is always the main subject (Hill probably wouldn’t exist were it not for Sacha Baron Cohen, but the two differ vastly their approach). Many of his interviews are filmed on camera, and one gets the feeling he is constantly winking at the audience, but not in a mean way (a lot like Jim does when he looks toward the camera on The Office). He has an incredibly quick wit, but he doesn’t use it for harm. Carrying a misguided sense of uber-confidence, Hill seemingly wants to be friends with everybody he talks to, and thus, his undeniable charm.

He’ll walk into the red carpets of New York’s fashion week, holding a huge boom-mic with a windscreen on it, and proceed to ask an attendee what she thinks of the Kofi Annan collection. Though even this is harsh for him. More likely, he’ll take a private movement/acting class in New York City, and twirl around in tights with the male instructor, laughing with him rather than at him, creating a sense of camaraderie through shared acknowledgment of the absurd.

This is, in fact, Hill’s greatest strength: his ability to include the subject, and by extension, the audience in the creation of the joke. He is genuine, which is why it works. And why he may be one of the best examples of hipster humor out there.

For tickets more information about The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, please visit www.ucbtheatre.com, or call (323) 908-8702.

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Save and Misbehave: Amateurs to Auteurs

9780446550277There are some people who can’t see a film without unleashing their inner critic.  So long as they’re not doing it in your ear during the film, there’s nothing wrong with a little constructive criticism. Studying up on film and all that goes into it can help those critics sound less like Randy Jackson on “American Idol” and more like Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers.  Neil Landau’s book, 101 Things I Learned in Film School is just the kind of thing you need to get up to speed so that your judging the mise-en-scene and the juxtaposition as opposed to the Cameron Diaz’ comedic timing.

Landau will be signing and reading from his book at Book Soup in West Hollywood on Thursday night, giving you a crash course in everything from camera angles to getting financing.  Landau is a screenwriter whose credits include Doogie Howser MD and Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead. We know what you’re thinking, but this book is chock full of actual advice and lessons learned.  In Los Angeles, its smart to know these things even if you work in an entirely different business – it’ll help your client base as a dentist, for example, if you can ask a producer how his or her premiere went or what the latest box office numbers were.  It’s all about the universal language of film.

Neil Landau will be signing and reading from 101 Things I Learned in Film School on Thursday, May 27 at 7pm for FREE.  For more information, please click here.

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Hitchcock’s Storied Sense of Humor Takes to the Ahmanson Theatre

The-39-Steps-Photo-8-1024x819We start off with an English gentleman.  He’s on stage, with his requisite pipe, telling us of the dull and boring days in a rented flat in central London that drove him to seek entertainment in a place as unlikely as the theatre.  He treks off to see red curtains pulled back revealing a perfectly comic duo in only their first role of the evening: as host and the night’s main act, Mr. Memory.  This is the beginning of “Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps”, on now at the Ahmanson Theatre.

This show is not for the theatre purist easily offended by a lack of the ever-elusive “fourth wall.”  This is, instead, one of the funniest, most inventive, self-reflective plays I’ve seen in a long while.  With a cast of only four, the players cover many a persona often by simply changing their hat while still on stage.  The special effects were nowhere to be seen, either, with characters holding out and shaking their own coats to simulate the wind.  Various accents abounded as each actor moved between his or her alternate personalities – Clair Brownwell’s initial character, Annabella Schmidt, had a very German accent (pronouncing “involved” in all sorts of incomprehensible ways) before she switched to become the blonde Scottish woman, Pamela, out to get our leading man, Ted Deasy.

Deasy played only one man – the clever, but wanted Richard Hannay – and was a delight from the moment he stepped on stage.  He mastered a dry, elongated British accent and paired it with a quick-paced rapport, making the play seem almost like His Girl Friday, as directed by Mr. Hitchcock.  With references to Hitchcock’s films throughout, from a scene with Deasy running away from planes in silhouette a la North by Northwest to a sneaky puppet that made Mr. Hitchcock’s iconic cameo for him, “The 39 Steps” is a comical tour de force.

What made the show spectacular was the work of Eric Hissom and Scott Parkinson, cast as Man #1 and Man #2, respectively.  They went from train ticket takers to cops on the hunt for a murderer to inn-keepers to German spies (and their wives) to on-stage “special effects” coordinators taunting Deasy and Brownell to the end.  The Men (numbers 1 and 2) interacted with each other seamlessly, moving in perfect sync when necessary and telling one another when they’d forgotten to change their hat again and they were acting as the wrong character.

Perhaps the scene that prepared the audience best for what we were about to experience came toward the start when Annabella Schmidt, who had talked her way into staying at Mr. Hannay’s flat for the night, explained her predicament.  She told Hannay that she was being followed by detectives and that they would be there now beneath a street lamp near his apartment.  As Hannay went to pull back the blind to see for himself, Man #1 and Man #2 rushed on stage holding a prop street lamp.  They set it up and stood beneath it, their trench coat collars pulled up and black hats pulled down.  Quick-witted with a hefty side of film noir, vintage international intrigue, and absolutely no magical seamlessness between scenes.  “Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps” tells you what its going to do as it does it, but in the funniest way possible – just make sure you brush up on your Hitchcock.

“Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps” runs now through May 16 at the Ahmanson Theatre downtown at the Music Center.  Please click here or call (213) 972-4400 for more information.

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deFineArtsLA Exclusive: Girl Flower!

00_triplexselectsthebestoflezsploitation_expresionencorto2008_mC’mon ladies, admit it—if you’re not a lesbian already, you’ve definitely given the idea some thought. I don’t want to make any assumptions about our readership here at FineArtsLA, but I know at least half of you have at least made out with a chick in some dimly lit back room—I mean, what are our 20s for? We all wonder what the other side of the lip gloss is like, right?

For those of you who haven’t yet adventured to the other side—and for those of you who have—this Friday affords a great opportunity for the voyeuresse in us all. In conjunction with Outfest, LA’s famous gay and lesbian film festival taking place in July, the UCLA Film and Television Archive will showcase the documentary montage film Triple X Selects: The Best of Lezsploitation. Director Michelle Johnson puts the “appropriate” back in appropriation, splicing spicy scenes from 60’s and 70’s lesberotica films—movies made by men, for men—into a romping 48 minutes of camp and cunts (don’t worry, nothing too explicit) that any woman is sure to enjoy. An open discussion with Johnson (aka Triple X) will immediately follow—so you can find out where to get the full versions of the films for later viewing.

Proceeding the discussion, you’ll have the chance to stick around and check out a classic lezsploitation flick, Just The Two of Us (1970), director Barbara Peters’ peek into the secret lives of housewives whose husbands are out of town.

So let that dirty little old man inside of you step out for a night, girls. And fellows—just, bring a date.

By Helen Kearns

The movie will screen at The Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer, 7:30pm, Friday April 20th. Visit the UCLA Film & Television website for ticket information.

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Burlesque Part II: Cherry Boom Boom!

KeyClub_14-1When my friends first dragged me to a Cherry Boom Boom show late one night at the Key Club on Sunset, I was more than reluctant.  I’m the type of girl who fights for women to keep their clothes ON in the entertainment industry.  More depictions of powerful women prosecutors, professors and presidents please; not more docile eye candy for the power-bloated male.

But what I discovered at the Key Club that night broke through my ridged outlook of propriety and introduced me to a new era of women’s comedy, creativity, and right to strut their stuff.

Although the leggy ladies of Cherry Boom Boom do embrace some of the imagery of the 1950’s pin-up girl, they are a bevy of powerful 21st century women whose passion and power will overwhelm you and leave you grasping at your seat.  The group combines nouveau cabaret dance vignettes with the gimmicks and humor of old time burlesque and a healthy dose of ‘don’t mess with me!  I’m proud of my body and who I am’. The Boom Booms’ intelligence, flair for storytelling, skill with a whip, and perceptive comic timing, enliven and enlighten the genre I had labeled as ‘stripping’ and judged so harshly from outside the Key Club doors.

Artistic Director and choreographer Lindsley Allen created the group two years ago and began touring small LA venues with the show.  They got such a buzz that Allen was invited to choreograph and co-direct a piece for Dancing With The Stars, starring Cherry Boom Boom and featuring Carmen Elektra. Allen, one of the original Pussycat Dolls, received her BFA in ballet and has had a successful career as a dancer and choreographer.

Cherry Boom Boom’s new show, “The Rendezvous”, opening at the King King Hollywood in May, also utilizes Allen’s background in Commedia Dell’Arte, the 16th century Italian clowning style. Allen studies commedia with Tim Robbins’s world-renowned theater company, The Actors’ Gang, and she chose to bring elements of that style to “The Rendezvous” to utilize the unique characters each of her dancers developed over the past year.  Rather than being a typical dance review, “The Rendezvous” brings to life the timeless commedia story of the thwarted LOVERS.“You get to go on a classic journey,” Allen explained, “All the dance numbers support the story.  I’m so excited to bring dance and commedia together. This show is a love affair between my two favorite worlds”.

The King King’s performance space is ideal for the piece. The multi-leveled stage, VIP lounge seating, and bar accentuate Cherry Boom Boom’s fusion between nightclub cabaret and Broadway show. You will definitely see me in line at the King King, this time dragging some new skeptics along with me.

- By Stephanie Carrie

“The Rendezvous” will perform at the King King on the last Thursday of every month, May-October.  Opening night is Thursday, May 27th.  Doors open at 8pm for a 9pm show. Be sure to stay for the dance party afterwards! For tickets www.kingkinghollywood.com or call (323) 960-9234.

Advance tickets highly recommended.

http://www.cherryboomboom.me/

Posted in Art, Bring Your Flask, Dance, Fashion, Music, Musical Theatre, Neighborhoods, Performance, Personalities, The Social Scene, West Hollywood No Comments »

What’s What in the Art World at Large (And What To Do in LA)

yves_saint_laurentWe may be geographically far from, well, everywhere in the world, but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep up with all the arts endeavors across every which pond.  So here’s a bit of news (for the very serious and elite readers) and a bonus round of what’s going on in LA that really deserves your attention (for those who care about little outside LA county).

First, a stop in Paris at the Petit Palais.  The Parisian museum brings to the fore the artistic achievements of none other than Yves Saint Laurent.  Curated by Florence Muller and Farid Chenoune, the exhibit, called Yves Saint Laurent Retrospective features gowns, menswear, some of the designer’s treasured personal items used in creative pursuits, and it highlight themes used throughout the many collections in Saint Laurent’s illustrious career.  One ticket to France, please! {Global Post}

Onto Italy.  In Milan, our very own Placido Domingo’s Operalia competition has commenced.  Founded in 1993, Domingo’s opera competition is meant to find the cream of the crop amongst new talent in opera.  The singers represent not only a range of vocal categories (from coloratura soprano to the lowest bass), but also an array of countries around the world.  The competition ends May 2 (this Saturday), so you’ll have a new vocalist’s career to follow starting Sunday, May 3rd.  We have a feeling it will be meteoric.  {Culture Monster}

Not to shower the French with too much attention, though they don’t mind, Sotheby’s has made quite the announcement prior to the upcoming auction season.  The storied (and once thought lost) private collection of legendary Parisian art dealer Amrboise Vollard is set to meet the auction block.  His career was spent promoting such up-and-comers as Picasso, Cezanne, and Renoir and Vollard’s collection includes not only paintings, but such enticing items as prints, drawings, and artist books.  The sale will be held in London on June 22, so brush up on your British colloquialisms.  {ArtInfo}

Back at home, there is much to celebrate.  Dig into your pockets just a bit to buy yourself a ticket to the Architecture and Design Museum’s official Grand Opening!  For $75, you’ll mingle with a veritable who’s who of the architecture and design world in LA at the reception tomorrow night (April 27), (hint: you can also find them anywhere from Father’s Office to Tar Pit on weeknights), check out the first exhibit, and bid on things at the silent auction.  {A+D Museum}  Also, if you haven’t uploaded his schedule into your iCal already, Gustavo Dudamel has returned to the LA Phil – he’s conducting pretty regularly from now through May 8 on a number of concerts all worthy of splurging for tickets.  {LA Phil} This is your last chance to see LACMA’s exhibit Renoir in the 20th Century.  The exhibit closes May 9. {LACMA} Last, but certainly not least, turns out that parodies of Wagner and his Ring Cycle abound.  LA Times’ Culture Monster shows us the best of the best. {Culture Monster}

Posted in Architecture, Art, Bring Your Flask, Classical Music, Conceptual, Contemporary Art, Downtown, Exhibitions, Fashion, Festival, Food & Drink, Galleries, Miracle Mile, Museums, Music, Neighborhoods, Old School, Painting, Personalities, Photography, The Social Scene No Comments »

Sassy, Classy, and Proud

Until I got to LA, the world of burlesque was somewhat foreign to me. I had a vague notion of 1920’s showgirls doing Bob Fosse numbers for over-excited guys in trench-coats and fedoras, a lot of nasally yammering and two-note whistles. But even this general notion of burlesque was gleaned from Looney Tunes and old movies, not real life.

Then in LA, I realized there was an actual burgeoning scene, filled with human beings, or at least the Hollywood equivalent. It seemed everywhere I went, there was some amateur poster or postcard hanging up, featuring a scantily clad woman in heavy make-up, teasing me to visit the “Saturday Night Follies” or “Beatrice’s Boudoir.” Thus I developed a kind of adverse reaction to the ad saturation. I felt these so-called burlesque girls were simply suburban strippers in disguise, lacking the fortitude to go the whole way. To me, it was post-feminism imploding in on itself.

Still I hadn’t yet seen a burlesque show with my own two eyes, and had very little idea what it entailed. So this past Sunday night, I decided to get up off my hypocritical, ivory-stained tuchus, and check out “Red Snapper’s Sassy, Classy Burlesque Revue” at The Sherry Theatre in North Hollywood.

I held some hesitation over whether to bring a notebook or not. Normally I always bring a notebook to any event I review, whether it be a gallery or a film screening, but the idea of taking notes while a girl is showing off her tasseled breasts seemed somehow creepy to me. In the end, I decided to take notebook, but keep it on the down-low.

Right from the start of “Red Snapper’s Sassy, Classy Burlesque Revue” I realized how ignorant I’d been. There was a giant, inflatable bottle of Absinthe set up on the stage, three guys in sharp suits and slicked-back hair sitting behind me—each toting a bottle of champagne and going by the monikers of Frederick O’Hollywood and Patrick the Bank Robber. Burlesque, it seemed, was a kind of costume party, a carnival, a renaissance fair for those who preferred jazz with their coffee. And everyone was happy.

The first performer, one Mr. Snapper (aka Andrew Moore), the emcee of the night, got things going with a cute ukulele rendition of Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies,” pitch-perfect trumpet scat-singing and all.  But in burlesque, there’s no such thing as cute—or even perfect—without raunch. So Mr. Snapper told a dirty joke before bringing up the premiere dancer: How does a college man propose? Answer: You’re having a what?

Bebe Firefly, the first lady as it were, was the reason for the inflatable Absinthe bottle. She was dressed as a dolled-up green fairy, the kind that supposedly pops up every once in a while under the influence of the nationally illicit spirit. To the tune of a jazzy, speed-guitar riff, Bebe proceeded to mix a glass of alcohol with sugar on stage, consume it, and promptly shake her hips and bust until all that was left was a thong and some tassels. The crowd, both men and women, all hooting and hollering, loved it.

Next up was Iona Vibrator, donning an elaborate, Asian/New Orleans fusion outfit, which came off in a similarly ritualized fashion to that of Bebe’s. After her: Ms. Jessabelle Thunder, who’s David Lynch-esque number made me realize the hypnotizing effect of such dances. It’s mostly just simple back and forth, some turns and winks thrown in, but for some reason it’s just enough to keep you swaying along with them.

The show’s producer and name-sake, Red Snapper, arrived on stage next, ushering the audience into the second half of the night—the more experienced girls. Snapper was obviously a crowd favorite, more than comfortable strutting around in a pair of garters and stockings, doing a kind of naughty 50’s housewife parody. The supposed female empowerment associated with modern burlesque became more apparent in Snapper’s performance. She possessed a definite control over her own teases, an excited familiarity with her routine that translated into a kind of feminine pride.

Panama Red followed, with Costa Brava not far behind, each showing off their own expertise with unique additions to the basic ritual of the formalized strip-tease. Whether it was Panama Red’s jungle-themed chest-shake, or Costa Brava’s feathered fan dance, these girls clearly knew what they were doing, and found ways to make playful what could become tiresome.

The show-stopper, both literally and figuratively, was Evie Lovelle, the seeming celebrity of the group, appearing in her last performance before a European tour. As she came out from backstage, wearing a tight corset which practically choked her tiny, tiny waist, the audience went nuts. And I could see why. She had long, black hair; gorgeous, pale skin; and a knowing smile that’s typically reserved for starlets of the silent film era. She’ll fit in just perfect in Europe.

Leaving the show, I talked to two female members of the audience, both of whom expressed interest in trying out burlesque themselves. They said they appreciated how the medium applauded real women, and how even conventionally “flawed” body-types could be made beautiful and powerful. As for me, I’m still not quite convinced of the transformative value in burlesque—after all, every number ends with what’s known as the “final reveal”—but I will say that I had a fun time. And as it tuns out, my note-taking didn’t feel that creepy at all. I suppose that’s because nothing seems that creepy about burlesque. It’s a celebration, rather than a perversion, and for that, I’ll hoot and holler with the rest of ‘em.

Photos by Holly Go Darkly

To find out about any and all upcoming burlesque shows in Los Angeles, please visit www.losangeles.Burlesque411.com.

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