Dangerous Curves Ahead bring burlesque to The Empty Glass
WANT TO GO?
Dangerous Curves Ahead
WHERE: The Empty Glass, 410 Elizabeth St.
WHEN: 10 p.m. Tuesday
INFO: 304-345-3914 or www.emptyglass.com
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Anita Cookie is one of the five dancers touring with Dangerous Curves Ahead, a Brooklyn-based burlesque troupe that performs Tuesday night at the Empty Glass. She said the group has been to a lot of interesting places since it was founded four years ago, but Fairbanks, Alaska was kind of special.
"We did two weeks in Alaska," she said. "It was amazing."
While in Alaska, they stayed in a log cabin without running water, met a park ranger in Denali National Park who showed them that roadkill moose was edible and discovered that some parts of Alaska just don't see a lot of women.
"You could kind of tell by the way they acted," she laughed. "They have a saying around there for the girls, 'The odds are good, but the goods are odd.'"
Joking aside, most of the men they met were great, she said. And yes, a lot of them were glad to see the girls.
"People came from everywhere when they heard there were going to be New York burlesque dancers," Cookie said. "They don't see a lot of that."
The same is true in other places, too. Charleston typically only sees burlesque dancers just a couple of times a year, which is very different from New York, Cookie said.
"There's a lot of burlesque coming out of Brooklyn," she said. "It really took off in the 1990s with the neo-classical stuff, which is striptease with an artsy, blue kind of edge."
Since then, burlesque in Brooklyn has diversified.
"You've got lots of troupes that are very, very vaudeville or very retro-throwback," she explained. "There are people who do the superhero shows; they're very comic book-y and sort of cater to the nerds -- and I say that in a loving way."
Cookie said Dangerous Curves Ahead is a sampling of several different styles.
"We're very rock n' roll and very edgy, but we've got a cutesy-pie act. We do a lot of comedy, and we've got a bit of hippy dippy stuff going on."
Burlesque is a wide field of artistic possibility, and the variety is part of the reason Cookie loves the genre. Burlesque, she said, changed her life.
Ten years ago, she was a fledgling dancer from California with a dance degree trying to find a break on Broadway. "I came to New York, and I was auditioning for things and getting typed out," she said.
Meanwhile, a friend from college was making a big splash in New York as a burlesque dancer under the name Peekaboo Pointe. Cookie said, "She told me to come to a show, and I went to a show and totally loved it."
A week later, she was in the show.
Burlesque is encouraging, she said, especially compared to the competitiveness of auditioning. "It wasn't standing in front of three deadpan faces and next to 80 perfect looking girls, trying to get any sort of face time you could.
"Burlesque is very freeing. You get to make all your decisions, and the reaction from the audience is great."
Burlesque dancers don't do a lot of auditions, she added. They get by on reputation. Once a dancer gets into a show, if she's any good, other producers will put her in their shows.
It's not all easy, of course. There is a certain amount of campiness, silliness and humor that comes with burlesque, but people do also take off their clothes.
"Uh, that was pretty difficult at first," Cookie acknowledged. "As a dancer, especially in musical theater, I was used to playing sexy with minimal clothing, but in the beginning I was never going to go down to pasties. I was never going to wear a G-string."
She giggled. "Now, I will sometimes go nude."
Not all the time, she clarified. Just some of the time.
After Cookie got into burlesque, she met other performers, including Clams Casino. They became friends and began performing together in New York and touring.
"About four years ago, we decided to go to the Burlesque Hall of Fame," Cookie said. "They have a festival out in Las Vegas. There's a pageant: Miss Exotic World."
Clams is afraid of flying, so they drove to Nevada from New York, working a few nights along the way to break up the driving and make a few bucks. The idea caught on with some of their friends, and suddenly they had a five-woman troupe.
Dangerous Curves Ahead has been from coast to coast a couple of times, Cookie said. The troupe has been up and down the Eastern Seaboard, to Canada and just about everywhere else.
"We dance, we pantomime and play act. We have special effects," Cookie said. "It's a good show."
Reach Bill Lynch at email@example.com or 304-348-5195.