Just because I’m traveling for work doesn’t mean I can’t go catch a burlesque show… and so I find myself on a Friday night in Los Angeles headed to the Townhouse in Venice.
For five years, Bootleg Bombshells have been hosting weekly shows there, and every fifth Friday they host a special show as well.
Tonight’s theme is Cosplay, so I expected to see my childhood memories perverted in the flesh. And the show certainly delivered on that front.
The Townhouse is a beautiful Venice venue that houses a speakeasy basement level, with a different cocktail menu from upstairs, and is a perfect setting for a fun Burlesque show that allows performers to work the floor and the audience as well.
Lux brings out the first performer, a guest star: Angie Cakes comes out as Evil-Lyn from He-Man – every young bad boy’s wet dream. Sporting a blue outfit with trademark crown and a lit-up scepter, the absence of Skeletor drove her into the lap of an unsuspecting audience member as she proceeded to wrap her witchcraft around his neck.
Elese Navidad scrubs the floor clean of money, of which there is plenty that came from a table close to me. Lux throws oil on the fire by calling out people throwing more bills right after she picked them up, causing her to do a double-take and a fresh bend.
The lights dim, and a shrouded masked figure makes an appearance. A palpable sense of youthful fear shoots through the room – Shredder is back! The tension releases when the mask and shroud come off, revealing a beaming Coco Ono, now dressed as Michelangelo, dancing to the show’s theme song.
Coco gets a pizza delivered in a box, puts it on the floor, and gets on all fours, eating a slice out of the box. She hands out slices to the audience (including one to yours truly) and I surmise it to be a vegan pepperoni pizza – excellent choice.
After that, Coco is writhing on the floor, wrestling with a yellow jumpsuit for her final transformation into April O’Neil – the real reason we used to watch the show. Three acts for the price of one, in a free show!
Time for the intermission – celebrating birthdays. One woman quickly steps up, but it takes some negotiating to find a second person having their birthday somewhere this year. Both people claim to be turning 34, an unlikely coincidence, but Lux goes with it as Lulu Mon Dieu sweeps up the money with her bare hands. “You’re from Brooklyn? I was born in Brooklyn! That’s why I’m allowed to be obnoxious. That, and I’m an only child.” After some more off-microphone interchange with the birthday boy, she goes “Oh no, that’s not how this goes. We’re not having a conversation. I’m talking to you and you’re liking it.” Our kind of sass.
Coco Ono delivers the birthday spanks, fifteen each, and the show continues with Ghostbusters. Elese Navidad comes out dressed like one, but her undressing is interrupted by the arrival of a gooey green ghost taking the stage, sending her hiding behind a barrel. To make matters worse, the Puff Man comes out too! Elese gathers her courage, headrolls to her ray gun, and does what she does best – bust! She celebrates her victory with a few twists and turns on the pole, before strapping her proton pack back on to keep warm and clothed. They do say, dress for the job you want.
The show continues with a slice of Star Wars. From the back of the room, a rebel pilot in orange jumpsuit and white helmet pushes through the crowd – it’s Lulu Mon Dieu delivering us her rebel yell. It’s only a few minutes before the Death Star is in firing range of Yavin-4, so she wastes no time shedding ballast, and swings from the ceiling to headlock another patron with her legs.
We reach the end of the show, and Lux introduces her favorite performer ever, amazing and modest at the same time: herself. Rocket Raccoon throws out the most adorable and powerful dance moves, leaving us both aroused and confused at the same time, questioning whether we should confront our latent specism.
55 minutes in, the show is over all too soon, given the fun we had reliving our childhood.
If you’re in Los Angeles, do yourself a favor – head to the Townhouse in Venice on Wednesday nights.