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Empire Burlesque 

Thursday, Jan 21 2010
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Wrong On Many Levels
From animal guises and exotic princesses to cowgirls and rock & roll sirens, to bedazzled Bettie Page–style pinups, burlesque themes are no-brainers these days. Rump-rocking and role-play are great and all, but everything's been done. Even the eye-pop-ular Devil's Playground's recent Jabba-jammed Star Wars shows seem obvious at this point. Thought nothing on the scene could raise our eyebrows, but we were wrong. Very, very wrong. Last Wednesday we caught Victory Variety Hour's The Wrong Show at Bordello, a sexercise in inappropriate, un-P.C. performance and in some cases just plain gross — but still strangely seductive — spectacle. If you are easily offended, skip the paragraph below, and maybe the whole column this week.

The warped brainchild of Augusta Avallone aka Penny Starr Jr., the show opens with a "cultural appropriation chorus line," a Small World–like assemblage of multi-culti chicks celebrating ethnic stereotypes: the Latina did a chola dance/stance and almost got in a fight; the Asian — the brilliantly-named Iona Vibrator — rocked a Harajuku look and took pics like she was at Disneyland; and the sista did a jelly-roll while eating a bucket of KFC. Surely we weren't the only one with Depeche Mode's recent hit "Wrong" filling our head with each subversive subsequent skit. A rendition of R. Kelly's "Trapped in the Closet" as sung by Mary Poppins (wrong!); a pregnant prom queen–turned–Dumpster-dumping mama dancing with her trash-swathed, umbilical cord–swingin' newborn, shooting milk at the crowd via bottle nipple pasties (wrong!); a bulimic boogie-and-barf session (wrong!); a polio victim crutch dance (wrong!); emcee Gary Shapiro's medley of happy ditties about a sexual practice involving, um, fists ("Fisting the Night Away," "I Fist a Girl"). So not right! And for the buzzworthy finale? Jewel of Denial's Flygirl flap-dance in front of a giant turd to The Cramps' "Human Fly." So wrong it is right!

Sadly, Avallone, who also celebrated her birthday at the show (she was presented with two red velvet boobie cakes, natch), tells us her "high-falutin' lowbrow bash" will no longer twirl ta-tas at Bordello, but VVH might be moving to a real theater in the future. In the meantime, check out Starr and some of her twisted temptresses at Rockin' Bones, a benefit for Skellramics artist Natasha Vetlugin, who's dealing with massive medical bills after an accident last November. The fund-raiser will also feature live music from Jane Wiedlin, Abby Travis, Maria Mckee and Rob Zabrecky, plus comedy by Selene Luna and Ian Harvie, belly dance from Princess Farhana (aka Pleasant Gehman) and much more. See itsachick.com/nightlifecalendar.html for more info.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY LINA LECARO - Fly girl gone Wrong at Bordello

Location Info

Pants on the Ground
In the spirit of pushing buttons/envelopes/boundaries of good taste, we come to the recent shenanigans of Ssion, the Kansas City discotheque freak collective/rock band, whose shameless takeover of L.A. over the past few weeks included popper-fueled dance floor antics, nudity, ghostly romps at the famed Charlie Chaplin house, and a near-masturbatory DJ set at Mustache Mondays, all culminating in a fantabulous art show and video installation, called Boy, opening at Peres Projects in Culver City Saturday night. The soul of Ssion (pronounced shun) is Cody Critcheloe, a handlebar-'stached musician/director/provocateur who's been asked to open for so many wild and wonderful acts (Fischerspooner, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Gossip) and been called the next big thing so many times, we think this decade it might actually happen, especially if he leaves K.C. and moves to L.A. as he's considering. The music is arty and infectious hump-pop and the installation of clips — linked together by "truth-or-dare bio-style documentary footage" — perfectly brings out the music's art-damaged hedonism and "horny" (his favorite word) preoccupations. Yup, Cody will fit right in here in La La Land. The exhibit, which takes over every wall, will be up thru April 3.

The official Ssion show after-party was held at A Club Called Rhonda at El Cid, but since that one's usually late to get grinding, we opted for another club first, the debut of Batcave at Circus Disco — well, half of Circus anyway. In what had to be the strangest meshing of crowds ever, the multi-roomed club space behind Arena was split in two, with the front half of the building devoted to the dark delights of goth DJs, live S&M displays and bands (our friends from the group Deadly Motor Vehicles rocked the house with their hypnotic, take-no-prisoners metallic-punk mash) while the big main room pumped with an Asian house music rave-up. The spacious outdoor patio was shared by both clubs. Surprisingly, the techno beats and dominatrix beatings commingled okay, even if the people from each party were understandably segregated. Had so much fun amid Batcave's black-garbed babes, in fact, we made it to Rhonda too late. The place hit capacity early and we were denied at the door along with a slew of aggravated gays and frustrated femmes. According to Critcheloe, we missed a "totally lethal" bash. Sigh.

Just Like That
Rhonda's not alone on the rage-o-meter for January. In fact, one of her daddies, DJ Aaron Castle, debuted a new one last week called Cookies for the Crooks at the reopened Stone Bar, and we hear it was crunchin' in crowds, even with some sound problems. Sure they'll be fixed in time for next month's jam. ... Also on our radar: Dip Dive in the space formerly known as Club Lingerie, from Dim Mak and will.i.am, filling the Sunday void left by Banana Split Sundays. According to the invite, it's every Sunday till Jan. 31, so only two more nights to party, Pea-ons! (bpmmagazine.net/dipdive) ... Don't go to Vanguard expecting to gyrate at Giant Saturday; Dave Dean's dance-off has rejoined forces with Avalon on Saturdays (and Friday's Control in some capacity, too) according their e-mail blast. The Spazmatic's long-running '80s show has moved from the cozy Dragonfly to megasized Playhouse on Sundays. (Madness' "Our House" is sure to be on the set list) ... And looks like The Key Club is far from locked up. Now under new ownership, Friday saw the debut of its new Brazilian party, Rio, and the calendar has some biggies lined up: Amerie on Jan. 26 and LL Cool Jhosting a "grand reopening" on Jan. 29.

As always, we track the party train, so you don't have to.

Reach the writer at llecaro@laweekly.com

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