Serious Thoughts

Can I Strip And/Or Use Offensive Language During a Karaoke Performance?

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Thu, Oct 25, 2012 at 9:03 AM

Illustration by Mike Gorman
By Allison Babka

Karaoke can be a dangerous endeavor. What can you sing that won't make friends shun you? How can you go balls-out during your next performance? Each week on our sister music blog at the Riverfront Times brings you "Ask a Karaoke Host" featuring professional karaoke empresario Allison Babka. Ask her stuff by emailing rftkaraoke@gmail.com or hashtagging #rftkaraoke on Twitter.

How many articles of clothing are too many to take off during a karaoke performance? -- Magic Mike

This seems to be a popular subject -- I'm often asked online and in person about karaoke nudity. I hate to disappoint you, but I've not had anyone take anything off at my bar -- yet (You volunteering?). My customers tend to be singers instead of performers, so they're relatively tame. Go to another area bar, though, and... well... let's just say I've heard stories.

That said, if you can pull off singing while simultaneously unbuttoning your dress shirt (t-shirt or tank top below) or hiking up your skirt (shorts or leggings underneath), I'm certainly not going to stop you. Pseudo-stripping is theatrical and fun, right? If you don't violate any indecent exposure laws, I'll be the one cheering the loudest.

What surprises you about the age demographics of karaoke? -- Hope I Die Before I Get Old

I think it all depends on the general demographics of your bar, really. My bar has a good showing of people in their 30s-50s, with some older and younger folks thrown in. Thus, I know that playing and performing '80s and '90s songs as a default will go over well.

I've been surprised to find, though, that once these customers guzzle some liquid courage, they'll venture outside of their age demographics when selecting songs. When this happens, the older folks sing current pop music (One of my regulars does "Call Me Maybe") and the 20-somethings sing oldies ("Runaround Sue" is a hit every week). I don't pretend to understand it, but it's fun for me because I can slot different genres "sets" and keep the night moving.

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