Ray's Guide to Chicago Area Burlesque
Show dates and reviews from the burlesque scene in Chicago.

The Sissy Butch Brothers' Gurlesque Burlesque

REVIEWED 7/24/04: Ever since I discovered the burlesque scene in Chicago, I have wanted to see one of the famed Sissy Butch Brothers' Gurlesque Burlesque shows. Thrown as fundraisers by a duo of filmmakers working on a documentary about the history and revival of burlesque, these periodic variety shows have consistently played to enthusiastic sell-out crowds. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about for myself, and I finally had the opportunity on Friday, July 16, at the Abbey Pub. I was not disappointed.

Emceed by comedian Jessica Halem and the fabulous Tamale (who I enjoyed so much at the Girlie-Q Variety Hour the show consisted of 20 performances in two acts, along with some entertaining interludes and a musical performance at intermission. The venue was packed, standing room only on the ground floor, and seating all around up above. Energy and enthusiasm filled the room, with some audience members dressed, or undressed, suitably for the occasion, and performers were greeted with hoots and hollers when it was appropriate.

Highlights included personal favorite Toots L'Amour, of the Lavender Cabaret, with her smokin' interpretation of Let's Misbehave. The Hellcat Hussies performed the number that had been the finale in their June shows at the Loop Theater. I didn't think highly of their execution in June, but this time around they had completely pulled it together and turned in a sexy and enthusiastic performance that drew a great reaction from the crowd.

Trigger Jane and Queen C, whom I also enjoyed at the Girlie-Q show, impressed me again with their hot, gender-blending style, and Lickety Split took a break from cheerleading to combine politics and striptease in a performance art piece (including their trademark coat hanger in support of women's reproductive rights) that George Bush probably wouldn't have enjoyed, but I sure did, as did the audience. Lavender Sweet, a fellow Chicago-area blogger, turned in a respectable take on a burlesque favorite, Big Spender, especially commendable as she had risen to a challenge to audience members by the Sissy Butch Brothers at a previous show. Nomy Lamm sang a heartfelt rendition of Cindy Lauper's All Through the Night, accompanied by her accordian. Performance artist Tammy Whynot turned the classic striptease around, stumbling out on stage in undies and a feather boa as if she hadn't expected to be there, then seductively getting dressed.

Both acts ended with amazing performances by out-of-town headliners Julie Atlas Muz, Miss Indigo Blue, and Miss Exotic World 2004, Miss Dirty Martini, each of them with very distinct styles. The athletic Ms. Muze did some fabulous physical comedy, struggling with a disembodied hand that groped her and tore her clothes off, and later wriggling free from rope bondage. Miss Blue appeared as two characters -- first as a fifties housewife washing dishes, then as a navy physician who became Wonder Woman. Miss Martini showed us classic burlesque at its finest. First she did a flirty and fun fan dance, then she peeled from an elegant hat and gown, finishing with some astonishing tassle twirling. I hadn't seen tassles twirled live before. Now, when it is time to meet my maker, I can go knowing I have seen it done by the best...wow!

This show was a celebration of burlesque, with acts from almost every subgenre imaginable. All were strong, and I would welcome the opportunity to see any of them again at another Gurlesque Burlesque show or in some other setting. If you are a burlesque fan in the Chicago area, future installments of this show are a must-see. Kudos to the Sissy Butch Brothers...please keep throwing these tour de force events, and I look forward to the day you premiere the result of your ongoing documentary project.

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