Redeye - Keeping Abreast of the Situation September 28 2005

On Sat., Sept. 24, East Atlanta’s the Earl played host to “The Princess & the PBR,” part of the Traveling Charm School burlesque events organized by New York’s Jo Boobs and Atlanta’s own Torchy Taboo.

Around 10:30 p.m., the more-Star-Bar-than-Earl crowd scuttled into the back room for the sounds of Ray Campi, Th’ Legendary Shack*Shakers, Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys, and Atlanta’s Blacktop Rockets. Not only did the throng looking for thong hold PBR tall boys in their hands, it included sometime CL collaborator Degenerate FN.

Bawdy bombshells from groups including Atlanta’s Doll Squad, Nashville’s Panty Raid and Torchy’s new Steam Heat strutted the stage, littering it with satin and sass. And surveying all of that were many ladies in the crowd that could probably match the ladies on stage tit for tattoo, especially if they took one of Torchy’s tassel-twirl workshops (a monthly seminar in how to make clothes peel and crowds squeal held at Dance 411 Studio).

Burlesque picks up on the rockabilly rebellion that late twentysomethings and early thirtysomethings have yet to piss away, offering a streak of white lighting and flash of painted porcelain skin. If a film from Baltimore’s king of quirk John Waters could be considered “romantic” to this subculture, it would be Crybaby, which celebrates hot rods and curvy bods in junkyard rave-ups. This crowd doesn’t want Mod scooters and moody punk; they’re talking gleaming steel hood ornaments and sleek tail fins, plus the wail, wiggle and swing of Nashvegas in the ’40s and ’50s.

That’s one of the most fascinating aspects of burlesque: It’s an atmosphere of empowerment. Some have usurped it, such as the Suicide Girls, who toured as a “burlesque” troupe that glorified spit more than shine. With their “fuck you” more than “entertain you” attitude, the Suicide Girls missed the point of burlesque, landing closer to early ’90s riot grrls. The riot grrls were more about what they wouldn’t take, while burlesque girls are about what they won’t give. At “PBR & the Princess,” the ladies presented then rescinded giant hot dogs to manhandle, pussycats to pet, and eggs to, um, not lay. Are these girls a tease? You betcha. But they are also about crowd pleasin’.

Jo Boobs — once a stripper at the Cheetah who now runs the burlesque revival’s press links repository — ended the show with a comedy routine, which answered strip-club patrons’ top dumb questions. She made her case for girls who just wanna dance, and from the applause of the crowd, it appeared these ladies’ routines are welcome to become routine in Atlanta.

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