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June 30, 2005

Dirty, Dancing

I went to see Robert Melee’s The Talent Show last night at The Kitchen. I know most of the people involved; these are just notes from an uptown queen who’s at the edge of the circle of friends.

The title is accurate, it was a series of unconnected sketches from some of the more interesting people in the Burlesque and performance scene downtown. The house was sold out, and probably is tonight as well.

Certain acts were wonderful (The effervescent Shasta Cola - who worked with me in '98 and whom I adore - channeling her high school years as a Color Guard – now there is a lady who understands how to structure a four minute act) and certain were rough going. The show opened with a grainy film montage. It was painful and haunting to see Alan Eto on the screen, but I’m glad to remember him. The show continued with a woman seated on a folding chair onstage with a man in a white Tyvek jumpsuit. The woman was older, garishly made up in drag to the level of Kabuki and naked. Both were surrounded by house paints. First he painted her tits white and then splattered them with various blues and greens. Then he smeared it all over her with a sponge. Unfortunately, this Theater of Yuck sounds more outlandish and engrossing than it was to watch. It took forever and they took their own sweet time as if every moment were interesting. There was a lot of dead air. Finding out later that this was Melee and his mother made it a great deal weirder, but it didn’t make it any shorter.

Julie Atlas Muz
presented Mr. Pussy, the incredible multilingual singing vagina. Mr. Pussy did an entire song in Spanish. I leave it to your imagination. I mentioned to someone after the show that because of her shows I think I know Julie’s genitalia more intimately than those of any other woman on earth. He said he felt the same way. It was her husband.

At the end of the show David Quinn did a fashion show – we did something similar but darker together with Runway (scroll down) in 1998. His clothing has only gotten better and better. My favorites are the women’s jackets he’s making with a 60’s bolero-like silhouette and wonderful textured woven fabrics. My least favorite thing is the fact that he makes nothing for men.

Dirty Martini performed a dance solo. Dirty’s made a name for herself in the burlesque scene but she’s had long years of dance training; I met her in her graduating year at SUNY Purchase when she was still Linda. The years as Dirty have honed Linda’s stage presence; I admire the way Linda can hold an audience. The solo began with Linda in her Dirty persona: in a blond Marilyn wig and a bustier and black overskirt. Holding her skirt, she skimmed about the stage and then moved forward slowly in a shaft of light. The spell she cast exists where stagecraft is the intersection of technique and persona. She wouldn’t have been able to pull that off nearly as well a decade ago, before she was Dirty. Reaching into her dress she produced a red sequined heart from her bosom. Modern dance became burlesque as she reached for her zipper, but she was also pulling off her persona. Dirty’s wig and dress came off and there was Linda, who slashed into a slam-bang solo that recalled, as she mentioned herself, her work with Stanley Love. The two forms, burlesque and concert dance, didn’t collide; they combined.

Posted by Leigh Witchel at June 30, 2005 3:27 PM

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