Last Sunday night, my friend Lisa and I headed to Boston to take in Dita Von Teese’s burlesque show. Neither one of us had ever seen Dita before and didn’t know quite what to expect. We did not expect a line all the way down the street and around the corner. Thankfully, it moved quickly and we were surrounded by pleasant people.
I was pleased to see that in many ways, her show mirrored the old vaudeville tradition. Murray Hill served as MC, keeping the audience lively between performances. (Although I would have loved to hear an interlude that didn’t begin with, “Holy SHIT!”) The show included male and female performers with a variety of body types — all daring, confident, and wonderful. Selene Luna, Monsieur Romeo, Natasha Estrada, America’s Got Talent finalist Prince Poppycock, Lada Nikolska and Perle Noire… a great mix.
Dita herself did four numbers: the famous martini glass bath, the pink-glitter rhinestone cowgirl act, a Josephine Baker-inspired number complete with birdcage, feathers, and fans, and finally, a striking performance as a Geisha in a red pagoda. The feather act also reminded me of Louise Brooks in “The Canary Murder Case.” (Lisa pointed out the Josephine Baker influence to me, as I’m woefully uninformed about her…which makes it easy to pick out reading material for my next plane trip…any recommendations for a good Josephine Baker biography?)
While I enjoyed all of Dita’s acts, I think I liked the rhinestone cowgirl one best, as she was out on the stage more for that and we really got to see her strut around and flirt with the audience, whereas in the birdcage and pagoda numbers, she was somewhat obscured from view by the set (at least from where we were sitting). I loved the music, too–an instrumental medley of country classics. I also loved the music to the birdcage set–Les Baxter, Martin Denny and Esquivel all rolled together.
Incidents that may have been unique to the Boston show: Selene Luna lost a pasty. She handled it beautifully, just put a hand over her nipple and kept on with her act. Also, Prince Poppycock lost his towering wig…which he also handled well once Murray Hill handed him a microphone and he could resume singing. Both performers got huge applause for handling their flubs so well, just shrugging them off and going back to giving a great show.
I really enjoyed Selene Luna. But I think my favorite performer aside from Dita was Perle Noire. More Josephine Baker influence coupled with a beautiful athleticism, grace and charisma. She just seemed FUN. And like she absolutely loved what she was doing in the moment. She had a striking presence, energy and joy to her that I’d love to see again.
The crowd was a crazy mix that made for good people-watching. Lots of great hair and dresses! I decided not to get all decked out because of the rain, then I kicked myself for that decision once we got there. Lisa looked great, and we ran into my friend Tracey MF Vaughn, who was all dolled up in a blue swing dress with matching shoes. I’ve been feeling kind of blah lately, and in need of a haircut, so hopefully once I get that taken care of I’ll be more inspired.
After the show, as Lisa and I were walking back to the car, we ran into Dastardly Dave, a kick-ass photographer I was lucky enough to work with once during my roller derby days. Don’t let the name fool you – he’s delightful to work with. He and his friend had been right in front of the stage, so they were able to tell us what went on inside the pagoda during Dita’s finale. Hearing that the other women on stage had their arms through the back of the pagoda, reaching out to Dita, who portrayed some sort of opium trance, made me wish we had seen that part even more! Damn you, House of Blues for not advertising things as obstructed viewing seats!
Overall, it was a great evening. If you have the chance to see this show, I’d definitely recommend it.