Tuesday, March 08, 2005

neo-burlesque night at galapagos!

i don't know why but lately, i'm more determined than ever to not surround myself with the essentials (music and food) and bury myself alive in my apartment. it must be the weather. the snow is hell-bent on engulfing me in an urban igloo of ice and so i'm steady at it, trying to dig my way out.

my quest to up my fun quotient took me to billyburg, of course. my lovely date for the evening was an all-purpose irish (american) man of the world who, as a borderline workaholic, needed to get out of the house and have fun as much as i did. we ate like royalty at a lovely thai place -- easy to do in williamsburg, isn't it? -- and then we jettisoned at galapagos, an art space that i had never experienced, as an audience member or as a performer. i just wanted to see reggie cabico host "smut" and say hi.

everyone knows reggie from def poetry jam except me. he was warm, spontaneous and fun, infusing the evening with an "anything can happen" kind of vibe that kept things interesting, whether they actually were or not. every so often, he would interject a few of his pieces here and there, which were riveting -- and all the more unnerving because reggie is basically the cutest thing since they invented cupcakes, and he doesn't seem to know it. that juxtaposition gives everything even more of an edge than it already has. he makes me want to write poetry again.

seeing him do his thing and having a little erotica read to me was enough. imagine my surprise when they announced that there would be neo-burlesque contest afterwards, hosted by everyone's favorite drag king, murray hill. a real amateur competition, with a baby tiara and everything. burlesque! how cool.

neo-burlesque is one of those professions that i always fantasize about, like being a race car driver or an animator/cartoonist or a black cowboy/bull dogger: something to think about as "the road not taken" whenever i imagine that what i'm doing for a living is somehow conventional and not exciting enough. (ha.) maybe someday, i'll play one in the movies. maybe someday, i'll get up the nerve to try to win an amateur contest somewhere in the city. until then, i am left to press my nose up against the window of someone else's life, whether i'm mesmerized by a picture of the beautiful black cowboy nat love or hanging out at the slipper room on a friday night.

there were seven rather shapely and fleshy contestants. thankfully, they all looked like real women. the place was so packed, it was ridiculous. of course it was free to get in. it's williamsburg! who's going to pay a cover anywhere in this neighborhood?

  • last month's winner (a big girl called miss la rue, i think) who had a bevy of supporters, telling the audience that she took her winnings -- all of $180 cash -- dry cleaned a few things and went for an interview with morgan stanley. lo and behold, she got the job. in fact, that morning was her first day! too bad her co-workers weren't there to see her take it off and shake it around last night...
  • after awhile, every other question from the guy i was with went something like, are you sure that's a girl? towards the end of the evening, he even forgot that murray hill was a drag king.
  • the two girls (my friend guessed eastern european or russian) who told the story of a relationship in dance. they were like isadora duncan without the gauzy clothing.
  • my favorite one was a girl who came out on a leash in a cartoony looking dog outfit and seriously stripped as a barking yelping canine to iggy pop's "i wanna be your dog" -- i remember thinking, now this is neo-burlesque. his favorite: the girl in the cowboy hat who sang as she stripped to "home on the range"-- later in the women's room, she told me that she was absolutely terrified. trust me, she really didn't look it.
  • looking over my shoulder at the end of the night as all the girls lined up in varying stages of undress and seeing a painfully well-dressed hasidim gentleman, staring wide-eyed and standing on tippytoe to get a better view.
what can i say? i'm a total fan now. i wonder who'll win next month?

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