SHOW: Stars & Garters: A Doctor Who Burlesque
GROUP: Busts and Trunks Burlesque
ATTENDED: Tue., Sept. 17th, 8pm, The Trestle Inn
CLOSED: Sept. 17
BRIEF SELF-DESCRIPTION: “Our show will feature Casanova Chaos, Rita Action, “Ace”merelda Spade, Freyja Kanina, Scarlett Simone, Candi Warhol, and Aerys T. Vayle as the sexy, sultry, sonic members of the Doctor’s enclave throughout the years. “Stars & Garters” is designed to be both New-to-Who and Hardcore Whovian friendly, so burlesque enthusiasts, fangirls and boys, cosplayers, LARP-ers, nerds, geeks, freaks, sci-fi aficionados, Timelords and aspiring companions are all welcome.”
WE THINK: Stars & Garters began with a video summary of the Doctor Who universe: who the Doctor is (a “Time Lord” who can travel through time and space in an instant), what a TARDIS is (the time machine disguised as a police box that helps him do it), why there are always attractive younger women following the Doctor around on his adventures (they’re referred to as “companions,” and it’s supposedly platonic). The show was then broken into scenes that began with short clips – for instance, a series of Rose Tyler-centric moments from seasons one and two – and ended with one of the Busts and Trunks performers playing the part of the presented Doctor Who character, usually sans clothing, as a related pop song played in the background. (At one point, “Rose” danced to Ke$ha’s “Gold Trans Am.” It was relevant somehow.)
Stars & Garters was a bit amateur (they misspelled their own name in the program), but that didn’t stop the audience from enjoying the hell out of it. Any show as outlandish as this lives and dies on audience participation — which is why it didn’t fail. Every shimmy was met with whoops and whistles, every poor karaoke version of The Killers’ “All These Things That I’ve Done” celebrated because, hey, the singer is acting out the Jack Harkness storyline, and he’s not wearing pants.
Some objective qualms: the back room of The Trestle Inn is ill-suited for events like this. Tiny and dim with no raised platform, it limited the view of those in the back and did nothing to differentiate the actors from the audience. The space could also do with a light dimmer so as to avoid jarring dark-to-bright-and-back lighting changes between each scene.
Furthermore, most of Stars & Garters’ stripteases were essentially identical: the first 10 percent of a song is spent fully clothed, with wiggling eyebrows and hips; the next 85 percent is spent painstakingly removing pieces of clothing with some mild acting; and the last five percent involves fully exposed breasts, or breasts with pasties. Time for one last chest-wiggle, then bow and out. Done once, it’s sexy; done over and over in the same way, it’s not.
Nudity, boring? Well, no; the best part of burlesque may be its demystification of the naked body. The performers may certainly be attractive, and the first dance may be a little shocking, but after that it’s just not a big deal. There is a topless woman standing in front of you, and she is pretending to be River Song with a wig and a gun, and she wants you to laugh with her.
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