Review by Byrne Harrison
Photo by Ted D'Ottavio
Burlesque is generally not what one would consider a highbrow art form. But imagine if it were. In Pretençión, Pinchbottom's latest theatrical burlesque being presented as part of the undergroundzero festival, burlesque impresario Jonny Porkpie imagines a world where burlesque is every bit as pretentious as Cirque du Soleil (not that they are ever mentioned by name). But, egads and alas, Nasty Canasta and Tigger!, performers in this cirque de burlesque, have lost their pretension. And without pretension, all that's left is just, well, boobs.
Enter Jonny Porkpie, the man who can save the cirque and help them to retrieve their pretension. He urges Nasty and Tigger! to use their imaginations to enter another world (one remarkably similar to Oz and which contains Jonny Porkpies of the North, South, East and West) where they can find their lost pretension, with the help of the lovely Naughtia Nice and unwilling audience member, Arrogant Mick. As Nasty, Tigger!, Naughtia and Mick travel through this land of imagination, they encounter its numerous inhabitants, most of whom happen to be lovely young women (the various guest stars, each with an amazing burlesque number).
Will Nasty and Tigger! get back their pretension? Will Arrogant Mick learn to loosen up and use his imagination? Are we ready to live in a world with more than one Jonny Porkpie? Is all of this just a flimsy excuse to showcase some of the city's hotest burlesque talent?
The answer to most of the questions (all, if you happen to be Jonny Porkpie) is yes.
Porkpie has spun a cute tale with just enough plot to make the show interesting, but not so much as to weigh it down. With a lewd wink and a sly nod, he makes fun of everything, himself included, and makes sure the audience has a good time.
Nasty Canasta, Naughtia Nice and Tigger! give solid and amusing performances, as does Arrogant Mick, who starts the show as an audience member. Mick plays a good foil to Jonny Porkpie's Willy Wonka-esque character, and shows off a remarkable voice during the musical finale, though he alone out of the cast doesn't strip down.
The July 16 performance featured Amber Ray as a gleefully malevolent bunny, Julie Atlas Muz in a Balinese inspired dance, Ms Tickle in a white feathered costume that was the most amazing of the evening, and the always amazing Gigi La Femme in a naughty spanking number.
Though Pretençión has closed, look for Pinchbottom's upcoming Marx Brothers inspired show A Day on the Boardwalk, A Night at the Sideshow in August. For information, visit Pinchbottom's web page.
Script by Porkpie
Set Design: Pink Inc.
Press Photos: Ted D'Ottavio
Directorial Assistance: Greg Cicchino
Stage Manager: David Bishop
Stage Kittens: Sapphire Jones (Wed, Thurs), Jasmin (Fri), Lefty Lucy (Sat, Sun)
Presented in association with Collective: Unconscious and Tom Keenan
Associate Producer for Collective: Unconscious: Vik Keenan
Starring: Nasty Canasta, Jonny Porkpie, Naughtia Nice, Arrogant Mick, Tigger!
Wed 7/15: Angie Pontani, Dirty Martini, Mat Fraser, Peekaboo Pointe
Thu 7/16: Amber Ray, Gigi La Femme, Julie Atlas Muz, Ms Tickle
Friday 7/17: Bambi the Mermaid, Clams Casino, Jo Boobs, Ruby Valentine
Sat 7/18: Darlinda Just Darlinda, Harvest Moon, Legs Malone, Leroi the Girl Boi
Sun 7/19: Creamy Stevens, Gal Friday, Little Brooklyn, Madame Rosebud
150 First Ave.