Alibi Volume 16, Number 15
April 12, 2007
A look at Albuquerque’s burgeoning burlesque scene
Burlesque past and present is one tale in different shapes. It's the story of female hustle, of women working with women and, often these days, for women.
It's not a "best of," say the women of BellaDonna, Albuquerque's most traditional burlesque troupe. Best of’s are what you put out before you retire, and goodness knows Cookie Fortune, Henrietta LeCoup and Cherry Jubilee aren't going anywhere.
September Smith can flip her aerial hoop upside-down, eight feet off the ground, and just hang from it. She can climb strips of fabric hanging from the ceiling, make herself a little pod in which to strip off clothing and peak out at the waiting crowd. She can put together a burlesque act to be performed from atop aluminum stilts at a car show.
1866—Prototypical musical comedy The Black Crook becomes a massive success on Broadway, despite a daunting five-and-a-half-hour length. The show’s chorus of ballerinas in flesh-colored tights prove that respectable American audiences are ready to fork over hard-earned dough for sexually stimulating entertainment.
Kitty Irreverent builds things: a 6-foot-tall heart, a giant martini glass, a pair of painstakingly handcrafted rhinestone pumps. And a community. Kitty desires to see New Mexico’s scattered dancers congeal. "I want it to be like, ‘Go to Albuquerque. There's a great burlesque community there, and they all work together, and there are all these neat shows you can see.’"
JJ Pearls has it down to a formula. For every minute of stage time she sees, $10 leaps from her pocket. "You do a five-minute piece, that's a $50 costume most of the time," she says.
Say it like you mean it!
It’s often accepted as gospel truth that one must be silent while in the audience of a great performance. This rule has been beaten into the very brains of every American child by nagging mothers, overbearing fathers and obnoxious ushers. Well, let me assure you, my dear friends: If you find yourself in the audience of one of the fine burlesque shows New Mexico has to offer, you will then be asked—indeed, encouraged--to lighten the hell up and have some fun. To help you become a better “outfitted” audience member, here are some helpful principles of etiquette you might find useful while attending a burlesque show.
Friday, April 20-Saturday, April 21—BellaDonna Burlesque Revue performs "Best o' Burlesque" at the Guild Cinema, 9:30 p.m.
A bill that would have granted an $85 million tax break for the construction of a coal-fired power plant on a Navajo reservation in northern New Mexico died in the Legislature late last month. The Navajo Nation and Sithe Global Power, a New York-based energy company, lobbied for the subsidy [Re: News Feature, “Absolute Power,” March 8-14], but were unable to convince legislators that the plant would be a worthy investment of New Mexico tax dollars.
The Sierra Club and the local faith community want Albuquerque to see the light. Not through spiritual transcendence or a religious epiphany, but by way of Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs, or CFLs.
The April 4 meeting kicked off with a staple appearance by Albuquerque Animal Control, which featured a police officer parading a terrier puppy on the floor of the City Council. Once the puppy was whisked from the scene, the meeting went from sweet to serious, with city councilors focusing their attention on a bill that would approve the city’s purchase of a large plot of land in a small subdivision in the Vista del Norte neighborhood. The plot is nearby Balloon Fiesta Park and is used as a landing site by the majority of balloons that take flight over the city. The site was being eyed by other bidders, namely big-box stores, with Wal-Mart as the lead contender.
Unbreakable, unbeatable, a runaway champion—the challenge last year for any team squaring off against the Doomsdames was to not be totally flattened, to emerge with a respectable loss score.
The GOP’s own dishonesty
David Iglesias’ hold on the U.S. Attorney’s office began slipping when he didn’t prosecute anyone for fraud in the 2004 election. Iglesias says his federal-state task force found nothing to prosecute. Republicans threw a temper tantrum. Sen. Pete Domenici passed it along to the White House and Attorney General. Iglesias is now looking for a new job.
Our overreaction to the HPV vaccine, and Richardson's mistake
It almost isn't surprising. Almost.
At this moment in the history of our country, we should no longer be shocked by puritanical ideals sneaking into our politics, by our culture's simultaneous loathing and worship of sex, by some of our leaders'--and some of our citizens'--heartbreaking disdain for science. Yet, somehow, the jaws of disbelief still manage to unhinge and swallow us whole. Or maybe it's just me.
Burlesque's Real Tease—Since new burlesque gained popularity in Albuquerque several years back, I've tended to confusedly take issue with the distinction between it and other forms of titillating clothing removal.
How Richardson could win the presidency
According to the New Mexico Legislature, the Official State Question is “Red or Green?”
Dateline: Croatia--A man thought he had come up with the perfect crime, but it didn’t quite turn out the way he expected. Dragos Radovic, 25, was arrested for smuggling at Zagreb airport after flying in from Bangkok, Thailand. Customs officials became suspicious when they saw the top of a bag he was carrying appeared to be moving. When they asked him to open his luggage, they found 175 chameleons stuffed into the bag. The endangered reptiles are reportedly worth nearly $100,000 on the black market. Radovic paid just $150 for them in a Thai market. Radovic had assumed that the chameleon’s color-changing abilities would make them impossible for customs officials to detect. “The man who sold them said they changed color to make them invisible against any background, but it did not work,” said Radovic. Vets who were called to treat the reptiles said they were dehydrated and distressed from the long flight.
Diversity in Film--Gov. Bill Richardson, in between presidential campaign fundraisers and jaunts to North Korea, continues his commitment to the film industry here in New Mexico. He recently announced “First Vision Filmmakers Forum,” the first-ever diversity forum for N.M. filmmakers. This day-long symposium featuring a diverse group of emerging and established film and television industry experts from the U.S. and Canada will be held at Albuquerque’s Indian Pueblo Cultural Center on Friday, April 27, from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
How to channel surf in a fully democratic media system
What's scaring people in the world today, says media theorist Gene Youngblood, is a lack of confidence. "People say, 'Wow, I'm so depressed. Everything sucks. God, the world is so messed up.' What people are really saying is, 'We don't have the knowledge, and therefore we're not going to do anything about it. That's what's really scaring people."
Bored to death
Here’s a riddle for you. When is a thriller not a thriller? Simple: When it has no thrills to offer. How does one accomplish such a seemingly contrary feat? Well, the 1995 Irwin Winkler-directed “thriller” The Net was a perfect example. The makers of that tech-obsessed thriller thought they could fold some newfangled, cyberspacey twists in with their standard-issue conspiracy theory script. On screen, that boiled down to star Sandra Bullock sitting and typing on a computer screen scene after scene. It was, in a word, boring. Now, the James Foley-directed “thriller” Perfect Stranger finds a way to make a thriller even more enervated--by looking to The Net for inspiration.
“Planet Earth” on Discovery
The Week in Sloth
Couldn't get Shins Tickets?—You're not alone. In fact, The Shins' choice to play the El Rey had a lot of you folks scratching your heads—the band routinely sells out venues twice the size of the El Rey, which seats somewhere between 700-800 people. How in god's name were you supposed to get tickets that were effectively sold out before the the show was even advertised? Why not play a bigger venue like the Kiva Auditorium?
I Is For Ida emerges for a rare local show along with Seattle's sensitive H Is For Hellgate and locals Sin Serenade and The Dead Electric. Friday, April 13, at Atomic Cantina. Be there and be square! (LM)
The Soul Deacons preach the word of soul
Washed in daylight, Evangelos sits quietly amid the trading post-style shops, art galleries and jewelry stores dappled along West San Francisco Street, which leads to Santa Fe's famous downtown plaza. Tourists and locals alike walk past its large windows, shaded by Evangelos' American flag-clad sign—some stopping to glance into the lounge's simple interiors, others passing by without any notice. As the sunlight fades, the glow from Evangelos' stage starts to draw more attention from pedestrians and the bar begins to fill.
Neko Case, of course
It's easy to get sick of music. You could be that guy who has an immaculate archive of vinyl and always knows about new music first, but if inundated with enough of it (say, at a job that requires wading through many a mucky pile of promos), music gets boring.
Playing each show as if it were their last
The Purple Cow Story grew up idolizing fellow Oklahomans The Flaming Lips and were further influenced by local Norman, Okla., band the Chainsaw Kittens; the former for their sound and the latter for their energetic live show.
Yale for Sale—Marissa Glink had a good time at the helm of the Yale Art Center, the contemporary art and performance venue located a few blocks south of the university, but she feels it's time to move on. “It's been a great two years,” Glink says, “a great experience. But first and foremost I'm young, and I'm ready to do my own art.”
Macbeth at the Vortex Theatre
George W. Bush once said his job as president would be much easier if we lived in a dictatorship. A lot of liberals are still horrified by this joke, partly because it's not hard to imagine George as a tyrannical dictator.
If you have a full-time job, you probably spend more of your waking hours with your coworkers than anyone else, including your spouse or children, on any given weekday. In fact, coworkers often become like a second family to many—a family to love despite some nutty or embarrassing quirks of its members.
We thought we had the old American mash down: Jack for long nights; Beam for cheap ones; Maker’s Mark for show-off ones; and Knob Creek for those rare instances when we’re not broke or already drunk.
New food magazines, chopped into bite-sized pieces for nibbling
Tagline: "The Journal of Food and Culture"
Frequency/Cost: Quarterly. $12 each, one year for $39.95, or $29.75 for students and retirees.
Target Audience: Intellectual food lovers.
Design: Elegant layout. The magazine is text-heavy but filled with meaningful artwork and photographs (a six-page spread of family dining room photographs, for example).
They spinn-ed me right ’round
I’ve vowed never to get fooled again by booze with a “Southwestern” angle. Case in point: I bought a bottle of DeKuyper’s “Cactus Juice” margarita schnapps a few years ago and poured myself a cheap plastic glassful. Despite the ice and several hours worth of chilling time it received, the liquor inside the cowgirl-festooned bottle tasted like I had just brushed my teeth then taken a bite of a lime, rind and all.