*Dita Von Teese and the Copper Coupe,* 5/1/18
Richard and I saw *Dita Von Teese and the Copper Coupe* at the Beacon Theater on 5/1/18. I've been reading about the New Burlesque in the New Yorker, and know La Teese from her appearances as a guest judge on Project Runway, so I was most intrigued. We both loved it - - I'm not a certified fan, and will be seeing her again. Richard enjoyed the show, was glad he went, but feels rather "one and done."
Burlesque is, of course, a hotbed of feminist, anti-feminist, and post-feminist discourse, and as a card-carrying feminist myself (I took three Women's Studies courses in college) I feel I should explain. My beloved friend Karen Miller told me years ago that "empowerment through self-objectification" is something that only happens in the *Charlie's Angels* movies, but it was shore happening on that stage. Those women were IN CHARGE. It helped that the audience was about three-fifths female, and of the men there, I'd guess that at least a third of them were somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum. It was an extremely diverse crowd, in terms of age, body size, gender identity. I didn't see very many African-Americans or Latinos/Latinas, but there were lots of Asian-Americans. It was a fascinating crowd, and the selfies were intense.
I'm giving a warning about my review and especially some of the videos. Enter at your own risk!
The host was Jonny McGovern, creator of the popular YouTube channel "Hey Qween!", which I clearly need to check out. He was a scream, an enticing mixture of butch and swish. He got things moving and kept them moving. My favorite remark in his opening bit was saying that photos and videos are forbidden, so if you need to see images from the show, you'll need to double-click your head, girl.
I'm going to refer to Dita Von Teese as DVT, and run the risk of offending those with deep vein thrombosis. Of course she was the first performer. She did a number standing in a giant clam shell. She was wearing a sort of sequined sweater and shorts. The sweater came off to reveal a sequined bra. The shorts came off to reveal a sequined G-string. The bra came off to reveal...I don't know what I'd call it, it was sort of a bra but the boobs were free. It had a sequined strap along the ribcage and a lovely little sequined patch at the sternum, and of course her nipples were covered by sequined pasties (we saw no nipples, and nothing beyond the G-string). DVT is a master at working the crowd, she was absolutely present and riveting. My mouth was agape, she was incredible.
Here's a video of her doing "The Glass Show" at a club here in NYC a few years ago. The audience is VERY close, which definitely wasn't the case in the show we saw, but it'll give you a sense of what she looks like and what she does.
The next performer was Gia Genevieve, a Playboy cover girl and Guess model. She started by strutting around the stage in a blue peignoir, giving a little grind here and there, but generally just looking sexy, walking in rhythm, and leering at the audience. I thought she was there to represent the kind of second-tier stripper you would have seen at any burlesque house back in the day. But then the curtain opened and she went into the bathtub and holy crap, her act became something else entirely. Of course she took off the peignoir and was wearing pasties and a G-string. She got into the tub and spent a long time soaping up her boobs, they were spic and span. Then she stood up and took out the shower wand (I hesitate to use the French term, <<douche telephone>>) and rinsed herself off. At one point she turned her back and aimed the wand between her legs, so the water sprayed out of her hoo ha. I was laughing so hard, it was all so IMPOSSIBLY VULGAR!
Ginger Valentine was more of a dancer than Genevieve, she did some startling things with a feather boa. Here's a video of her at the New Zealand Burlesque Festival:
Zelia Rose was my favorite performer of the night (besides DVT, of course), she knocked me out. She's Miss Burlesque Australia, DVT saw her act there and added her to the line-up. She was a fantastic dancer, knew how to work her red silk skirt. My favorite part of her act (apart from her use of a song by Yma Sumac) was her fan dance - - she had two huge fans, which she held around her face, blocking her body. She danced around and whoa, surprise, her bra got thrown off to the side. Drove the crowd wild. Here's a video of her in Australia:
DVT closed the first half with a scene with two men playing her servants. She arrived at home, wearing a delicious red velvet suit and hat, took that off, and put on a sequined robe. I will not call it a "housecoat." She lip-synched to her own recording of "Lazy," clearly modeled after the Marilyn Monroe recording. The costume designs for the show were first class for every single person onstage, but I was especially tickled to see that the men in this number were wearing leg garters. This isn't a fetish of mine, but I know it is for someone. Here's a video of DVT doing this number:
Intermission was a parade of strutting, posing, and taking of selfies. I was parched and spent $4.50 for a bottle of water.
DVT did the first number on the second half, a fetish number with her wearing a black latex corset, serious hip-high boots, and brandishing a riding crop. The two guys from the previous number were blindfolded and wearing harnesses, naturally. The curtain opened to reveal the rest of the cast in fetish gear and a giant tube of MAC lipstick. DVT interacted with the others and eventually mounted the giant tube of lipstick, which gyrated slowly, like a lackadaisical mechanical bull. Another thing I never thought I'd see.
Perle Noir made a triumphant return to the stage, after two years away from the DVT scene. She did a vigorous dance number to "Delilah Jones." I thought she was maybe trying a little too hard, but Richard was crazy for her. In retrospect, she was the only performer who really broke a sweat, so it came across as overkill only in comparison to the others. Here she is doing her thing in Toronto:
I didn't know that Dirty Martini was on the bill, and what a treat to see her. She's one of the leaders of the New Burlesque movement, she's a real star in this world. She was extraordinary, she was the only performer who really seemed to be having a lot of fun, her joy was palpable. She capped off her act by climbing onto a carousel horse, draping herself over it, swinging her tassels, etc. Then the MC brought her out in front of the curtain and asked her to do some more tassel tricks, including a "death-defying" single-boob tassel swing. Here she is at the Toronto Burlesque Festival:
The only solo male act was Jett Adore, who did a hilarious Zorro routine. He swung his cape around, eventually taking off his pants from behind the cape and holding his cape strategically over his naughty bits, always dipping just a further into the danger zone. He finished by dropping the cape to reveal a silver sequined codpiece, dripping with jewels and bugle beads. It was such a riot, he was laughing himself. Here he is doing that routine in Toronto (which is clearly the place for burlesque):
The show ended with DVT doing a strip out of a rhinestone-studded gown, of course revealing five or six layers of rhinestone-studded underthings. I felt like the corset in this outfit was a little too complicated - - I'm sure some people are turned on by watching a corset being unlaced, but it just takes a long time, especially at the end of the night. DVT climbed into a giant cocktail glass, splashed around, and got herself all wet. Her four numbers made an interesting progression from most coy and demure to most overt and raunchy.
Like I said, I will be seeing her again. Maybe also Zelia Rose and/or Dirty Martini, separately. Here's the tour schedule, check out a show near you!
8 May Milwaukee, Pabst Theatre 10 May Detroit, The Fillmore 12 May Minneapolis, State Theatre 14 May Chicago, HOB 15 May Chicago, HOB 17 May Kansas City, Uptown Theatre 19 May Indianapolis, Murat 7 June San Antonio, Aztec Theatre 7 June Phoenix, Comerica 9 June Houston, Revention Music Center 12 June Denver, The Fillmore Auditorium 15 June Vancouver, Queen Elizabeth Theatre 17 June Seattle, The Moore 19 June San Francisco, Palace of Fine Arts 20 June San Francisco, Palace of Fine Arts 22 June Phoenix, Comerica Theatre 24 June Riverside, Fox Performing Arts Center 26 June Anaheim, HOB 28 June Las Vegas, HOB