On the last day of January, a group of big-hearted burlesquers got together for two shows at the Black Cat to raise money for GWU’s LGBT Health Program. The GW LGBT Health Certificate is the only program of its kind in the country training current and future healthcare leaders to develop strategies addressing health issues for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population.
The evening’s hostesses, musical comedy duo Frankie and Betty, opened the show with a lovely acapella and beatbox version of Mackelmore’s “Same Love.” Glam Gamz followed up with a dirty blues strip to “I Got What it Takes” proving that, yes indeed, she does. Glam was followed by Betty O’Hellno who humorously soothed Lana Del Rey “Burning Desire” with some over the counter ointment. There aren’t a lot of men, in or out of drag in the local burlesque scene – we miss you Paco Fish! – and it’s always nice to have that extra, albeit discreetly tucked, bump in the old bump ‘n’ grind. Variety is the spice de la vie, n’est-ce pas? Jessabelle started in boy drag and ended up very much and very joyfully a girl to Muse’s cover of Feeling Good. For the late show Jessabelle did an amazing number to a track that was interspersed with snippets of dialogue from The Stepford Wives. By the time she left the stage we had been so entranced with her robotic breakdowns that we barely noticed the only thing she had taken off was an apron. It’s not how much you take off – it’s how you do it!
Then we chowed down on the foodie portion of the show. Runner-up for the Washington Blade’s best drag king of 2013, Sebastian Katz showed us who was “top” banana and at the late show made everyone nervous with the fate of an all-American apple pie he held in his hands. Up next was Chérie Nuit, a girl knows how to work a crazy dirty smile and a bucket of chicken like nobody’s business. DC’s first trans boilesque troupe, the Sparkle Bois brought it home to “Sugar Daddy” from the Hedwig and the Angry Inch soundtrack, and indulged the audience’s collective sweet tooth while simultaneously stripping away clothes and gender.
Bringing us back from our food coma was Gigi Holliday. There are all kinds of arguments as to whether burlesque is exploitative (stripping) or empowering (owning one’s sexuality) but Ms. Holliday clearly owned not just her sexuality but the stage in a classic bump ‘n’ grind that grabbed your attention by the scruff of the neck and didn’t let you go until she was damn well done with you. I vote empowering.
Diva Darling is a whole lotta Marilyn Monroe and played the attention-starved American tourist to two Buckingham Palace guards to Lenny Kravitz’s cover of “American Woman.” Why anyone would, or for that matter could, ignore Ms. Darling is way beyond me. Drag King Enzo joined the late show and left all the ladies (of all the genders) swooning with a lipsynch of Latin artist Miguel’s “Adorn.”
The evening was put together by Dainty Dandridge, who, by day, is one of the students enrolled in the program. We missed seeing her perform (she’s button cute with the mouth of a sailor) but welcomed her sass as she thanked everyone at the end of the show for their support of this very important cause.