Booze and burlesque: Performers titilate at The Pub
School is back in session, but the education provided at The Pub on Saturday night was anything but ordinary. BurlyQ 101, a scholastic-themed evening of burlesque performances, titillated the crowd with fan dances, bawdy humor, leather and lace.
The production—a combined effort of Fairbanks-based Naked Stage Productions and Anchorage’s VivaVoom Brr-Lesque—sought to both inspire and educate, as well as excite. Hosted by VivaVoom founding member Kamala Stiner, aka. Lola Pistola, the various dances were accompanied by lewd skits, comedic interludes and a little bit of burlesque history.
Rachel Blackwell, who performs under the stage name Delilah Danger, is a founding member of Naked Stage Productions. She organized the event at The Pub, as well as the preceding performance at the Blue Loon on the evening of Friday, Sept. 8th. Blackwell has been performing burlesque in Fairbanks for roughly seven years, as well as having performed occasionally with VivaVoom in Anchorage.
VivaVoom was already interested in performing in Fairbanks, according to Blackwell, and she has performed at both the Blue Loon and The Pub previously.
Naked Stage was already planning a Fall show and Blackwell thought it would be best to fold the VivaVoom performers into the same night. The experience levels ranged from from novices to well seasoned performers. Sarah Brazo, who goes by Ginger Snatch, has performed alongside Blackwell in almost every Fairbanks show, while Jennifer Bodily, a.k.a. Pousse Kat, made her stage debut at the Blue Loon on Friday night. The variety of experience levels present in the BurlyQ 101 show was important to Blackwell.
“That’s one of my goals,” Blackwell said, “to build more interest, and to show the spectrum of all the different sorts of things you can do [in burlesque].”
The night opened with a skit from Gypsy Rose Lee’s “The G-String Murders,” a 1940’s crime-noir novel penned by one of America’s most significant burlesque performers. The skit set the stage for the evening’s retro-inspired performances, including Ginger Snatch’s sultry striptease to Cab Calloway’s “Minnie the Moocher,” and Bobbye Pin-Up’s decidedly 1940-50’s costuming.
The other skits scattered throughout the event were schoolhouse-themed, in keeping with the premise of the night. Blackwell, Brazo, and troupe-mate Amber Shoemaker (Vanilla Vixen) portrayed rowdy school kids, kept (poorly) in line by Bodily, as the teacher. The lewd limericks recited by Blackwell and Shoemaker’s young boy characters riled up the audience and provided a humorous interlude while the other performers prepared for their next dances.
In between two early dances, MC Lola Pistola called out an audience member who was celebrating his birthday. Galen Jackson, a recent grad of the Diesel/Heavy Equipment Certificate program, got invited last-minute to the show by some of his friends. Jackson, who had never seen a burlesque show before, got invited to the stage to fish for some “booby prizes,” which were exactly what they sound like. Lola buried several small prizes in her cleavage and asked Jackson to retrieve them using only his mouth.
“I usually hate that stuff, like the singing at Red Robin,” Jackson said. He didn’t know that anything special was going to be happening for him. “This was another level, but it was definitely a lot of fun.”
The audience participation didn’t stop there. Later in the show, Vanilla Vixen (Amber Shoemaker), crooned a song titled “Teacher’s Pet” to the audience, and coyly invited crowd members to whip her with a slick leather cat o’ nine tails. The night ended with the Fairbanks-based Naked Stage performers presenting a group chair dance, a burlesque hallmark.
Blackwell hopes that performing on campus, early in the semester, will garner interest in Naked Stage, and burlesque in Fairbanks in general.
“I love that all the acts are created from nothing- they’re all our ideas, and we make them come to life,” Blackwell said. “That’s exciting to me. And at least to me, [burlesque] promotes a lot of body positivity… we have so many different types [of bodies], and everyone is welcome. If you want to get up on stage and feel sexy, then you should do it! That’s how I come at it. When I perform… I always feel great, and it’s such a boost. It’s so fun. I can get up on stage, and be something different from my everyday life.”