A Fancy Femme’s Take on a Weekend of Bedazzled Dongs: Kitten LaRue goes to the New York Boylesque Festival!
Hi folks, it’s me, Kitten LaRue, Artistic Director of The Atomic Bombshells and the girly half of Kitten ‘N’ Lou! I may be a gay lady but I can certainly appreciate some sparkly, sexy man action with the best of ’em, so it’s time to kick up my heels and take a deeeeep whiff of the heady pheromones at the 3rd Annual Boylesque Festival in NYC!
The man parade started early with the arrival of our beloved show husband Jett Adore on Thursday night, who was crashing at our place for the weekend. Is there any better home decor than seeing that man on your couch in his skivvies adding a few last minute rhinestones to his cape? Nope!
Friday Night Teaser Party at Drom
This was a really fun way to kick off the weekend, with a packed and vocal audience and hosted by World Famous *BOB*, who is perfection, always. She added the perfect palette cleanser of campy feminine glamour between each act, like a glorious pastel unicorn in a stable of hot stallions. She kept the audience engaged and present until the end, even though it was a mostly standing room venue.
– Mustang Monroe from Colorado served up amazing queer-thug realness; all tough and scrappy, stripping down to rainbow suspenders and his Chanel double C’s logo tattoo (fierce!).
– Brooklyn Irons doing his Lion King act. Fabulous tulle mane, and joyful, exuberant moves that were impossible to resist. (Someone’s had some African Dance classes!) Plus, I love a big burly man rocking a catsuit like nobody’s business.
– I’m a bit partial, I realise, but DAMN if my own Lou Henry Hoover didn’t steal a million hearts doing his Young and Healthy strong man act! Plus, extra pride points for being the only drag king representing in the festival; very cool to see so many different displays of masculinity on stage!
– Willy Waterlilly, all the way from Helsinki, wowed the audience with his sexy equestrian act. Intense, sensual, cheeky, and fantastic costuming with leather and feathers; he turned it out and proved himself to be one to watch on the international scene.
Saturday Main Event at B.B. King’s
I recently performed at this venue at the New York Burlesque Festival, so it was fun to get to sit in the audience this time, drink some bubbly and just point my female gaze right at that parade of peacocks! While the house was not quite as packed as the Burlesque Festival, it was still very full; a promising sign that the festival will just keep growing each year.
– Jett Adore opened and closed the show, first with his playful Fosse-esque pimp act (that ass corset, omg!), and closing with his Zorro act. What can we say about Jett, other than he’s a perfect specimen of male glory, and even when he has a costume mishap that only he would notice, he makes everything look flawless and effortless, as only someone who puts so much care and energy into their craft can. Boys, THIS is your standard.
– The Brotherhood of Burlesque (Colorado) did a very cute synchronised group act as stripping clergymen to George Michael’s Faith.
– Ben Franklin did an impressive hula hoop act; yay for special weird skills!
– Jonny Porkpie truly is New York’s ‘Mayor of Burlesque’, and his Vegas act is him at his finest: pure hilarious drunken sleaze with really masterful physical comedy and musicality underneath it all.
– Mat Fraser (NYC/London) proved that there is power and beauty in simplicity if you really know what you’re doing. He came out and sang There’s A Place For Us, contextualising it as an anthem for the disenfranchised, and it was perfect.
– Dew Lily (Toronto) caught my eye at last year’s festival pre-party, so I was delighted to see him doing a sizzling fan dance on the big stage this year.
– Tigger!’s amazing, crazy dramatic monologue about the Big Apple, reminding us all that he’s a brilliant stripper and a brilliant actor. NOT FAIR!
– Mr. Gorgeous always perfectly toes that line between sexy and comedic, and his bird act is no exception. Accentuating his epic stature with outrageous feather costuming, he left us asking ourselves: How can you be so tall and adorable and hilarious and gorgeous, Mr. Gorgeous?! How?!
– Gilbert De Marcos brought his amazing Kabuki-esque act that he brought to Vegas last year, and the energy was electric!
There were so many more magical moments from other performers that I unfortunately don’t have enough room to elaborate on. But boys, boys, BOYS… Some general observations from someone who’s been producing, performing, and watching shows for a while now: it’s time to up your game. Boylesque is exploding; it’s officially a thing. The performers who are making names for themselves, making a living at it, and being noticed on an international scale, put just as much time, care, and energy into their costumes, choreography, and concepts as us burly gals do. While there were many moments of brilliance and innovation on stage that weekend, I also saw more off-the-rack matte black suits and sloppy choreography than one would hope to see at a major international festival. As the form continues to grow in scope and popularity, male identified performers will have to work harder to stand out and get stage time, just like the gals do – so start raising that standard now!
Quoted in major international newspapers and held in high esteem and affection by the international burlesque community, 21st Century Burlesque Magazine has documented the contemporary burlesque scene since 2007. Founded and edited by Holli-Mae Johnson.