Bring back VaudevilleSun, 4th Feb '07, 10:40 am::

If debauchery was illegal, the cast members of Thee Vaude Villians would be serving life sentences. Last night my buddy Nathaniel from Tampa came over and we drove to see the Burlesque Company perform at Chiq. Vaudeville is "a style of multi-act theater which flourished in North America from the 1880s through the 1920s. An evening's schedule of performances (or 'bill') could run the gamut from acrobats to mathematicians, from song-and-dance duos to trick high divers." In the early twentieth century, burlesque theater, with its "origins in nineteenth century music hall entertainments and vaudeville, emerged as a populist blend of satire, performance art, and adult entertainment, that featured strip tease and broad comedy acts that derived their name from the low comedy aspects of the literary genre also known as burlesque."

Knowing the show would be quite different from the Broadway musicals and strip-joint tricks, I walked in with expectations of being mildly entertained and pleasantly amused. Boy, was I wrong! Here's part of a mission statement of sorts from the group itself:

"Throughout the history of theater, many revolutionary ideas have made their impact and become mainstays of modern entertainment. More often than not, the origins of these ideas have been diluted and forgotten as the entertainment industry drones forward. Among these casualties lies the lost art of burlesque. In these first years of the new millennium, only a relatively small number of people endeavor to keep this genre of entertainment from falling into oblivion unsung. Only these few strive to ensure that the word “burlesque” is not easily associated with stripping or the fetish scene. In fact, Thee VaudeVillains Burlesque Company’s main goal is to snatch burlesque out of the jaws of fetishists and bring back all the forgotten elements that once made this genre great. We feel it is our duty to restore the original ideals of the art form and make it shine once more. "

I say bring back vaudeville! I want to leave work at 5pm and taunt the bearded women by 6pm. I want to a see a man eat his own jaw and a woman who can crush coconuts with her bare chest. I'm tired of the puritan and the sleaze fighting over zoning law establishments and what I can or cannot see within 50 feet of a school bus stop that's less than 100 feet of a liquor store on 3rd weekends of months that end with a "Y." I say bring back the innocent burle-laden maidens! Fortunately for me, Thee Vaude Villans are right on track.

In classical vaudeville style, the show consisted of a variety of acts from story-telling and singing to contortion and satire. Saying that I was entertained is putting is mildly. A more appropriate word would be enchanted. The show lasted for over two hours not including the intermission. Nathaniel introduced me to a few cast members before their acts. It's not everyday that I'm introduced to a pretty software engineer that works on digital imaging by day and prances around on stage with feathers at night.

In a society where beautiful girls often starve themselves to become skinnier because the magazine says so, it was refreshing and in a way comforting, to see women not ashamed of their own bodies. Tall and skinny or short and curvy, as long as you can shake those legs for hours on end, you're beautiful.

Having seen the bottom of three Long Island glasses within two hours last night, I have but vague recollections of specific performances. Additionally, smoke-filled cramped rooms, which I guess were the prime seats of such shows once, are really not my thing and often give me headaches. We were too tired by the time the show ended so we parted ways. I got home, consumed lots of bread and orange juice, and went to bed. Here's to a good night out.

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