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PSK Gets Love in Variety Article

Los Angeles- You can watch burlesque seven nights a week in Los Angeles and never see the same thing twice.

You won’t see any strippers, either. The only thing hardcore about these dancers are their hoofing skills.

Never a hub during the heyday of burlesque, Los Angeles is making up for lost time. Trendspotting pushed the revival into the mainstream as Forty Deuce expanded to Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas and became a limited-run Bravo reality series. The Pussycat Dolls are now 21st-century Spice Girls with the hit single “Don’t Cha” and have their own lounge in Caesars Palace.

However, local girlie shows continue to grow and morph, taking on forms that bear little resemblance to the early work of Lili St. Cyr and Tempest Storm.

“I had an act about Joe (DiMaggio) and Marilyn,” says Dixie Evans. Born and raised in Long Beach, she grew up to become the dancer billed by Harold Minsky as “The Marilyn Monroe of Burlesque.”

At 79, she can still mimic Monroe’s breathy little-girl delivery: “You’ve gone off and left me flat/I’m sure glad you left your bat.”

That was the extent of the raunch. “We wanted to put on an act to entertain you,” says Evans, who now oversees the Exotic World Burlesque Museum in Helendale, Calif. “Strippers — that’s just sex and money.”

Ivan Kane and his wife, former ecdysiast Champagne Suzy, fan the flame of modern-day burlesque four nights a week at Forty Deuce. They’ve just launched “Royal Jelly” on Wednesday nights, which features dancers who striptease in spotlights that seem to beam them across the club.

“Women love it,” says Suzy, who adds that they comprise as much as 65% of their audience. “We have parents come. You can see anything you want on the Internet, but I think people have nostalgia (for) the lost art of flirtation.”

It’s also a chance to create something new. “It’s not that I don’t find it interesting, but I’m not a Civil War re-creator,” says Bella Baretta, who oversees the Pin-Down Dolls, a dance troupe in which the girls aren’t afraid to stomp as well as bump and grind.

“Lucha Va Voom,” which just closed a two-night stand at the Mayan, will now take its patent-pending blend of Mexican wrestlers and dancing girls to the Comedy Festival in Las Vegas. And Harvelle’s hosts “The Toledo Show,” a long-running freeform funk cabaret with a tight six-piece combo and bandleader Toledo’s slithering, Fosse-infused dancers.

“The dames are no joke,” says Toledo.

In a feat of reverse engineering, even local porn stars have turned to a kind of burlesque with “Porn Star Karaoke,” which began two years ago as a way for denizens of the adult industry to blow off steam. Straights now make up as much as half of the PSK audience, but anyone expecting to see live re-enactments of their favorite scenes will be disappointed.

Sardo’s owner Seymour Satin is quick to point out that while PSK may be burlesque in spirit, it definitely isn’t in the flesh. Burlesque is illegal in Burbank, and no matter what the performers do for work, at Sardo’s they stay fully clothed.

“At first, we had people flashing,” says porn director and PSK emcee Wankus. “We had to tell them, ‘Get as crazy as you want, but keep your clothes on.'”


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