Burlesque? Really? The word conjures up early 20th century night clubs with velvet curtains and women in pasties holding strategically placed fans. But do people buy all that in 2008? Chris Hayes of the local burlesque troop Charmed and Dangerous says local audiences start out skeptical, but "by the end of the show, they're putting dollars in my G-string."
Hayes has been a performer for more than 20 years and currently works with local burlesque group Charmed and Dangerous. The group performs almost every month at Tess' Lark Tavern, as well as at private parties and venues across Upstate, in Hudson and New York City. They describe their shows as "more strip than tease" and featuring a "bevy of bawdy beauties and hilarious hombres."
In the last 5-10 years, there's been a resurgence of this type of entertainment, according to Hayes, who performs under the alter ego Fernando Falcone. Shows include drag performance, comedy, song parodies, and of course, some stripping. Burlesque performers don't strip down to their full birthday suit, but they will strip down to pasties and a G-string.
"There are elements of cabaret, with a burlesque twist," he says. "The comedy is a little risque, but at the same time, we've played to the diverse range of crowds. At Tess's, we can kind of push the envelope."
Hayes usually serves as the emcee, but also performs in some of the numbers, although he acknowledges that the men involved are more often used as comic relief than for titillation.
"I don't approach this with any vanity," he says, "and there's not the beefcake factor."
Hayes has a college degree in performing arts and has worked primarily in film for the last 14 years. For him, the great part of burlesque performance is that it "breaks down the fourth wall" and allows the audience to actually become part of the performance. And he says each audience adds something new.
Each month's show generally has a theme, although Hayes says the group doesn't rigidly set itself in these themes. This month's show, called "Charmed and Dangerous Takes You Over the Rainbow," is an unofficial celebration of the LGBT community.
Check out April's shows:
April 17, 7:30 p.m. - $10
April 18, 9:30 p.m. - $12
April 19, 8 p.m. - $12
Tess' Lark Tavern
453 Madison Ave in Albany
Earlier on AOA:
+ Burlesque at The Bing Bamboo Room
Tess Lark Tavern
453 Madison Avenue
Albany , NY 12210
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