Special to Metromix.com
burly (adjective): large in bodily size, stout; sturdy.
esque (Latin): to disrobe, especially to music in an artistic fashion.
Black Cherry Burlesque’s performances can be summed up in three words: normal girls stripping. What do I mean by normal girls? Well, you may have noticed that many of the dancers at strip clubs tend to look like strippers. For example: Remember that girl at your high school who totally looked like a stripper? What did she end up doing? The evening news. But her other not-quite-as-hot friend is a stripper now, and that’s my point.
Of course, burlesque is not only about panties and pasties. It is a rich tradition that dates back to the era of vaudeville and in which short comedic skits, satire and strip tease play an important role. The compères of the show I attended in November at Surly Wench were witty in their banter with the audience and when they introduced the troupe.
The Black Cherry dancers have normal female bodies, and that’s the appeal. They look like women you see every day, only they’re taking off clothes, and you can throw dollar bills at them without the embarrassment of being escorted out of the Charlotte Russe changing room by mall security.
I actually tried to join the Black Cherry Burlesque (burlesque often incorporates comedy as well as exotic dancing); the troupe is all female, however, and does only strip tease, and wouldn’t let me join even after I showed them pictures of me in a recent drag show.
The show itself was fantastic. The dancers were sexy and confident, and it was a celebration of the female figure rather than an exploitation of it. The difference is that strippers take their clothes off because they get paid to. Burlesque dancers take their clothes off because they’re contractually bound to. Semantics? Perhaps, but to their credit they looked far less greasy than strippers usually look. Audience feedback is highly encouraged, with many people shouting things like “Ooowwoaahhh!!” or “Yeeaaahhh!!” Please avoid such outbursts as “Take off your shirt, hot cheeks!” as they will likely result in your immediate ejection from the pub.
What can you expect if you go? Well, unless you paid top dollar ($20) for the comfortable seating area, you can expect to stand. The show is about an hour long, with a 15-minute intermission, so do what I do and ask someone if you can sit on their shoulder if you can’t stand for that long. The girls perform in a variety of costumes, in the style of pin-up-girl lingerie from the 1950s. It’s also a good idea to come early, because if your luck is anything like mine, you’ll get stuck standing behind a 6-foot-4-inch, 240-pound linebacker named Todd, and good luck asking him if you can sit on his shoulders.
Also, there are no pictures allowed. They are very strict on this rule, even if you call ahead and tell them you are with the Tucson Citizen’s Metromix Web site, and even if you tell them the photos are for your own personal use, and you probably won’t even look at them that much, except right before you go to bed or take a shower. . . . Trust me, just don’t do it.
IF YOU GO
What: Black Cherry Burlesque show
When: 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday
Where: Surly Wench Pub, 424 N. Fourth Ave.
Price: $20 front row, $15 second row, $8 general
Info: 882-0009, www.tucsonburlesque.com