The Austin Chronicle

Burly-Q Confidential

By Wayne Alan Brenner, July 9, 2004, Arts

Burlesque is what your more adventurous old uncles jaunted out to see while their neighbors were settling down for a night of My Little Margie or Leave It to Beaver. Burlesque is a bastion of relatively innocent carnality that fell to shambles as the sexual liberation of the Sixties opened up stages to women who were opening up their clothes to near-gynecological effect. It may not be the last tassel of culture to be brought back as the country's fascination with all things retro continues to roll like a Googie-inspired locomotive, but it's certainly in full swing now.

Burlesque, let's say, is a combo of capers and creative disrobing; it's stripping, as seen through a glass delightfully. This is about the third year that the local scene's been mirroring the national revival, with any number of acts – from the sublime to the ridiculous (and combinations thereof), with solo performers and group displays – braving the boards and bandstands in various stages of undress.

Besides the Kitties profiled here, there's Red Light Burlesque, a hot quintet of Southern-style teasers who periodically galvanize the crowds at the Continental Club; there are the Boom Chica Boom Go Go Girls who re-create the hip-shaking traditions of Hullabaloo and Shindig!; Chitlin' & Grits is a local trio with a difference: Their act is an acrobat's wet dream, with cunning stunts of balance and contortion adding to the show; the Poon Girls are another group of three, preferably taking it off as the opening act of local rock bands; Hoecake Honeybuns' specialty is a reverse striptease (we imagine a leering crowd shouting, "Put it on! Put it on!"), though she's often horizontal and decked out with snacks as a sort of living banquet table; on the more cabaretish side, there's Mistress Stephanie and her Melody Cat, the latter a local musician (OK: Adam Sultan) dolled up as a transvestite feline, crooning out the songs of Old Berlin.

Check the theatre listings, scan the band flyers and the club schedules on bulletin boards all over Austin, and keep those eyes peeled like Lili St. Cyr. This town is lousy with burlesque, bub, and much of it's not lousy at all.

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