Take It Almost Off!

At Kevro's, it's about the tease, not the sleaze

Sometime during the intermission, raffle numbers were called, and winners went up to the stage to fish out their undergarment prize from a big Whole Foods bag.

"They couldn't find something sexier than a grocery bag?" asked Alex, a young man who wore his shirt collar unbuttoned to about midway down his chest.

"Health food isn't sexy to you?" I asked.

"No," said Alex, who had come to the show to support one of the girls from his acting class, "but at least we know the prizes are organic."

Customers: The clientele was a mostly older crowd of wine-sipping sophisticates — not quite the raucous crowd of horny college boys you might expect at a venue where girls are getting naked. When a gray-haired elderly woman's raffle number was drawn, she drew a racy slip from the grab bag and draped it on herself to cheers from the audience.

Also in attendance was Ellies, a thin girl with almond-shaped eyes and long black hair. She wore cherry-red heels and skinny-cut jeans. At intermission, I asked her why she'd come to see the show.

"I danced with the Boudoir Beauties for over a year," she said.

"What was your routine like?" I asked.

"Very Marilyn Monroe-ish — it involved a big fur coat," she said. "My stage name was Lady Phoenix."

"Supersexy," I said. "Did people ever think you were a stripper?"

"Yeah, but it's so not stripping," she said. "Stripping did come out of burlesque eventually, but this is classy. It's art. Besides, we never go fully nude."

So take it from me: Burlesque isn't going to get any women-must-cover-their-tits laws repealed anytime soon. But it's a nice way to look at nudity — a controlled, artistic environment in which you feel as if the girl is exploiting you ($5 suggested donation and you still won't show nipple?! Oh come on!) more than you're exploiting her. And you know that cheap, sad, smoky feeling you get when you leave a strip club? With burlesque, you get the lingering scent of a starlet's perfume, an appreciation for the art of thigh-high stocking removal, and a sense that you might have just witnessed something historically significant and charmingly intelligent.

But, hell, even if burlesque is just a bunch of hotties taking off fancy underwear, I'm not complaining.

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