Boss Up with Bevin Your dream life is at the end of your comfort zone

2013-04-22

Showgirls! The Musical! NYC through May 4th

Sometimes you go to the theater and you look at your friend during intermission and you say, “This is happening in real life.”

New York City, where all dreams are possible and all artistic visions have a chance, is the birthplace for the next great musical parody, and that parody is Showgirls! The Musical!

Perhaps some of you are unaware of the cultural gem that is Showgirls (The Movie). In 1995 there was a tremendous amount of buzz and controversy over the NC-17 rating for the movie starring Elizabeth Berkeley from Saved By the Bell fame. I felt really awesome that I managed to sneak my 16 year old self into the theater to see it. That rating is due to the language, near-constant topless dancing and wild, rough pool sex. The movie is extremely terrible, with ridiculous overacting, a terrible script and is almost a parody of itself.

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Photo by Allison Michael Orenstein.

The fact that there is a musical parody of a parody makes the entire experience a bit meta.

Bob and Tobly McSmith wrote and produced Bayside! The Un-Musical! (The Saved By the Bell musical, which I enjoyed) a couple of years ago and applied that comic genius and brought along the cast member who played Jessie Spano (made famous by Showgirls’ Elizabeth Berkeley), April Kidwell. I expected this musical to be much of the same but was surprised to like it even better!

The entire production is made up of professional actors and is extremely well-performed. Though some of the choreography is intentionally cheesy, it’s actually quite good. Something as big as recreating a thirty person Las Vegas strip production in a tiny off-broadway theater with a cast of seven is difficult to do, but they managed to cut to the essence of the Goddess show (the production the film is based around) with a volcano tossed over a stripper pole, strategically spandexed gold lame’ and the show’s main attribute, entirely topless dancing.

Yes, much of the show is performed topless. I don’t think it’s redundant to say as a lesbian I enjoy boobs. And as a feminist I don’t want to be like, you should only go see the show for the tits, but they’re really good and in context and I think feminism is sometimes about boobs at the intersection of consent and context.

The comic timing and one-liners are genius. I thought The Gay (a parody character of the stage manager/choreographer of the Goddess show), played by Philip McLeod, was a stand-out character and actually more meaty than I remembered it being from the original. He is the character who touts brown rice and vegetables for the dancers in the big show and famously tells Elizabeth Berkeley to “THRUST! THRUST!” in a tight shot of his face at her pelvis.

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Photo by Allison Michael Orenstein.

Marcus Desion had the task of playing both Molly (the BFF of the main character) and James (an erstwhile love interest/dance coach for the main character). This switch was made with a wig and bad 90s women’s fashions.

The key to Showgirls realness is the extreme overacting of Nomi, the lead character. She basically has a huge temper tantrum at the end of each scene and storms out, which is so unsettling it is comical. April Kidwell was incredible and I actually hated her character far less in the musical than in the movie.

Some of the song highlights for me were the hit “Don’t Lick the Pole” during the scene at the strip club Nomi works at until she is discovered. Not only is the song really funny (and good advice) but it’s accompanied by the athletic pole dance moves by April.

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Borrowed tech rehearsal shots from the Facebook page for the musical.

Even if you didn’t like the movie Showgirls (or haven’t seen it), you’ll still really enjoy the musical. I mean, pole dancing, topless actresses (one of whom is a tall and curvy, they didn’t just cast skinny girls), and funny songs. I think it’s better than a night at Scores, and you’re supporting up and coming very talented actors and musical writers/directors/producers. I honestly think Showgirls! The Musical! should become a fixture in the erotic nightlife of New York City.

Check out the cast page for some hilarious gifs of the characters in the show.

You can get tickets (the show runs through May 4th) at the Showgirls! The Musical! website! Only twenty bucks, it’s a bargain for such great entertainment, and you can bring booze down from the KGB Bar upstairs.

2013-04-15

Cupcake Cabaret, a Performance Celebrating Self Love at Stonewall, 7PM on Thursday, April 18th

My mission in life is to make the world safe for people to love themselves. One of the ongoing projects I keep is very dear to my heart, which is a performance art series celebrating the radical act of self love. It is definitely very radical to love yourself in a society that tells you that you aren’t worthy of any love or appreciation, or conditional love and appreciation (like, if you lose 20 pounds, etc…). One of the things I love most is to hear how artists have used their differences to become empowered. That’s what I curate in this series.

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Photo by Laura Sawchuck.

I’m super excited to have Ivan Coyote, the dreamy professional storyteller, author and multi-award winning bad ass, in NYC from Canada and featured performer at the upcoming Cupcake Cabaret.

First, here’s all the information on the show:

Thursday, April 18th, 2013 * New York, NY
Bevin Branlandingham Presents
Cupcake Cabaret Featuring Ivan E. Coyote
Doors 7:15p, Show 7:45 * $7-$15 sliding scale
53 Christopher St, NY, NY
W 4th St. / Christopher St. Stations

Cupcake Cabaret is a performance celebrating the strength we get from what marks us different in this world. Size, gender, sexuality, class, race, dis/ability, age, religion and all numbers of identities bring the artists in the series a sense of power and esteem.

Featuring Ivan E. Coyote, storyteller, author of many incredible books, and heartstring puller all the way from Vancouver, Canada!
[http://www.ivanecoyote.com/]

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Ivan is an incredible storyteller. If you aren’t familiar with their work, you need to dip into the treasure trove of youtube.

From Dear Younger Self (the video above):

“Do not cave into the pressure from mainstream society to fit in. You do not and will not ever fit in. And one day you will realize you don’t even want to anymore. And that your difference is inherently tied to your beauty and your bravery. And your giant, mystical, invisible brass balls. You will grow to love these balls, younger self, and they will swing majestically between your ears inside the head you will hold up proudly.”

I basically can’t hear anything Ivan reads without crying a little (or, sometimes, a lot).

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Photo by Jah Grey.

Another out of town miracle visiting NYC and performing Thursday night is my friend Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha! A queer, Sri Lankan, disabled writer, performer and cultural creator, Leah inspires me to no end. Her poetry is incredible.

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Felice Shays, living in Brooklyn, NY, is a Femme feminist performance artist and author of Brutal Affection, her forthcoming book about the magic of rough sex (among other things). She radiates strength, sweetness and glamour and not just in a rhinestone cowboy boot kind of way but in an I want to do whatever she wants me to do kind of way. Her performance work is personal, empowering and delightful. She once fisted a watermelon at Rebel Cupcake wearing a bridal gown.

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

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Photo credit Stacie Joy.

LeRoi Prince is one of my favorite gender performers in NYC right now. Their butchlesque acts are charming, their Prince numbers are dead-on (read: sexy, sultry, entertaining), and political work is heartfelt and incisive. They read a piece at the Forest of the Future calling forth the importance of our queer ancestors and what they fought in order for us to be who we are as a community today that made me weep. Everyone was weeping, though, it wasn’t just me.

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LeRoi Prince is obviously my favorite Prince impersonator. Photo credit Nogga Schwartz for Rebel Cupcake.

Bevin Branlandingham is also performing, which is me! I’m reading from my memoir! I’m almost done with the first draft. Whatever section it ends up being the themes are empowerment, rebirth, dishy dyke drama, spiritual awakening, sex, and dirty Brooklyn dance floors.

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey. (With my friend Sam, singing a little R. Kelly.)

You shouldn’t wait to RSVP on Facebook, you should do it now.

And if you haven’t seen Ivan’s piece “To All the Kick Ass Beautiful Fierce Femmes” and you are a Femme or you are in relationship to Femmes, I highly recommend it. A friend of mine is newishly out of the closet and newishly dating Femmes and I’m putting together a curriculum for her to learn about Femme and this is required watching.

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