Monday, September 17, 2012

Meet the Minds Behind Hotsy Totsy Burlesque's Doctor Who Parody

By Byrne Harrison

In preparation for tomorrow's show, "Doctor Who Returns to Hotsy Totsy Burlesque," I had a chance to chat with Cyndi "Cherry Pitz" Freeman, "Joe the Shark" Naftali and "Handsome Brad" Lawrence about the show, Doctor Who and the celebrities they'd like to see naked.

Doctor Who.  Burlesque.  My first thought is those don't go together.  My second thought is naked Rory.  Which suddenly makes me rethink my first thought.  What made you put these two things together?

CYNDI:  Rory naked, that would be fun! We love Doctor Who and we love burlesque, plus we are not the only ones, there are a number of Doctor Who fans in the burlesque scene who have Doctor Who acts... I believe Nasty Canasta has, like, 4 or 5. Brad and I are big fans and have a ritual of watching it together the morning after it airs. It's how I relax after a weekend of bartending. How I look forward to it all week! Our Hotsy Totsy shows are created by Joe the Shark and myself, and Brad is often our co-collaborator, as he is both my husband and a great comic talent - he is our go-to guy for many of our parody shows.

BRAD:  Cyndi and I are both enormous fans of the show and it is so rich with mythology that it is ripe for homage. And doing one of these parody shows, you want to have something that the die-hards are going to go crazy for. A fan always wants more of whatever they are a fan of and this is our way of contributing to the over all Who-ness in the world.

JOE:  The Doctor is the perfect host for a burlesque show.  He can traveling anywhere and anywhen to get the best talent.  And, of course, there always seems to be trouble wherever he goes, and he always has a beautiful companion at his side.  All of those are just perfect ingredients for a scripted burlesque show like Hotsy Totsy Burlesque.

Tell me about some of the other TV/movie parodies you've done.

JOE:  We've paid tribute to a few of them... the Odd Couple, Ralph Edwards' This is Your Life, Harry Potter, Superman comic books, Mad Men, Game of Thrones - we called it Game of Tassels...

CYNDI:  The Avengers, The Jazz Singer, Star Trek.  This is our second Doctor Who show.

JOE:  Doing the parodies is tremendous fun, but we totally like to make the material our own, giving it a Hotsy Totsy spin.

CYNDI:  Hotsy Totsy Burlesque is an ongoing Soap Opera, that takes place in the basement of the Home For Wayward Girls and Fallen Women, each month Cherry runs a fundraising show in order to keep the all girls hotel open. Its always a fun challenge to figure out why the characters from the movie or TV show have found their way to The Home For Wayward Girls and Fallen Women. In the Harry Potter show, the kids were all in New York on a school trip and they snuck out with a spell that turned them into rats in order to come to the show, but the spell backfired - every performer called up was turned into a rat, so the kids from Hogwarts rally to keep the show going by taking the stage.

BRAD:  Star Trek was a personal favorite. Kirk (played by me) and Spock (played by Stormy Leather) go back in time by flying the Enterprise at warp speed around the sun. Stormy was wearing the stocking cap that Spock always wore to hide his ears whenever they ended up on "Ancient" Earth and then a bustier to blend in at The Home For Wayward Girls and Fallen Women. When she did her Pon Farr strip tease and took off the cap to reveal the ears the audience went nuts. And I got to say the most ridiculous things in the classic Shattner style.

What has been the most popular one so far?

CYNDI:  Doctor Who the last time was sold out, standing room only. When Handsome Brad, as Doctor Who, said "Time is a big ball of  wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey stuff," they went insane! A close second was Game Of Thrones. It was the perfect storm of cast and fans, many in medieval dress.  My favorite part was working up the crowd with a rousing speech about killing King Geoffry - the rotten rat bastard.

JOE:  Also Harry Potter and the Boobies of Fire and Mad Men.  Those were all big hits.

BRAD:  I think our first Doctor Who show holds the title, but Game of Thrones might come in a close second. Oh, the audience members who showed up in costume.

Who will be performing in this month's show?

JOE:  Nasty Canasta, one of the founders of Pinch Bottom Burlesque and producer of the long running Naked Girls Reading.  Matt Knife, producer of Homo Erectus, NYC's only all male monthly burlesque show. Nelson Lugo, producer of Epic Win Burlesque and frequent host of Sharkbite Sideshow.  Gogo sensation Lana Firebird and burlesque up and comers Lewd Alfred Douglas, Little Motown, Ruby Solitaire and Teddy Turnaround.

Now some Doctor Who questions.  Who's your favorite Doctor and why (and you can include Handsome Brad)?

CYNDI:  Handsome Brad IS my favorite, that is why I married him! But next in line is Matt Smith, because I waited on him (and Karen Gillian) at my bar job, and he was super nice and gave me a good tip. And then I told him about the Doctor Who bar (The Waystation in Brooklyn). I told him "You should go and just walk in and freak everybody out!" And he did! With Karen Gillian! They went the next day and signed the bathroom wall. I take special pride in the fact that there is bathroom wall graffiti that I am responsible for!

JOE:  For me, it was Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant.  I was a BBC fan as a kid, and I tried to watch Doctor Who, but as a fan of Star Wars and Star Trek, I have to admit I found the special effects lacking and just couldn't get into the show.  But when Eccleston was cast, I decided to give it another chance.  And I'm glad I did.  Both of them were brilliant.

BRAD: You know, Matt Smith has really grown on me. I was a huge Tennant fan, but Smith has a kind of kinetic style of movement that he can suddenly bring to a complete stop to raise the tension level. I find it really effecting.

Which of the aliens do you think would most appreciate a naked Doctor and/or companion?

CYNDI: The Vampires of Venice without a doubt!

JOE:  I think the Doppelgangers from Doctor Who Series 6, episode 5.  Daleks, Cybermen, etc., would have no interest I suspect.

BRAD: I think there may be a repressed sexual tension behind the Dalek's hatred of the Doctor. Thin line, and all that. Plus, he is a sexy man and they are blobs trapped in trash cans, he's just so out of reach.

JOE:   Perhaps Sharaz Jek from "The Caves of Androzani", but I don't want anyone to think a burlesque crowd is full of leather clad isolationists.  We have lovely mixed crowds of men and women of all ages.  For real.  My 86-year-old mother, who runs an art gallery in NYC, comes out whenever she can.

Is it really bigger on the inside? 

CYNDI: Size doesn't count....but yes - yes - it really is.

BRAD: But still a snug fit.

If you could go anywhere in time and space, where would you go?

JOE:  Probably back to Europe in the 1930's to watch the build up of the war that changed the 20th Century.  I would love to go further back, to meet someone like Julius Caesar, but I don't know any Latin and would really have a problem communicating with anyone.  I couldn't even order a hamburger from a Roman street vendor.  They did have street vendors selling hamburgers in Ancient Rome, did you know that?

BRAD:  Y'know, the cat nuns of New New York... I am neither a furry nor a recovering Catholic, so I have no idea why it works for me.

CYNDI:  Everyone wants to kill Hitler, so I'll let someone else do it. I want to go back to a time when they used salt as currency, I want to bring several cases of Morton's and buy me a whole country!

The theme of next month's show is Cherry Pitz: Vampire Hunter.  What can we expect?

JOE:  This one I am so excited about.  My father was full blooded Transylvanian, so I love a good horror movie, vampire story, etc.  We are taking on so many of the vampire legends!

BRAD: If I have any say, some emo haired vegan is gonna get a stake in the sparkly bits.

CYNDI:  Lots of fangs, some major Buffy references, at least one person from Team Edward, a few bottles of True Blood, lots of glitter and very little clothes.

JOE: We'll leave you smiling, no matter what type of vampire you like.  As for who's in the show, you have Angelique A'lamode, BB Heart, Cherry Pitz, Gogo Harder and Rita Men Weep, just to name a few.

If you could do a burlesque version of any movie or TV show, using the actual cast of that show, what would you pick?

JOE:  The BBC's COUPLING.  A damn sexy cast and they are all hilarious.

BRAD: I did a Firefly burlesque show for another company a while back (A Mary Cyn/Epic Win Burlesque co-production) and it was a lot of fun and everyone was very sexy, but I would throw all the friends and colleagues that shared the stage with me that night under a very fast moving bus to have shared that dressing room with Christina Hendricks and Morena Baccarin.

CYNDI: The Golden Girls. I just want to see what Bea Arthur would come up with! Nah, I am with Brad on Firefly. They were all so pretty! And I bet Nathan Fillion has done a burlesque act somewhere, just a vibe he gives off.

Joe The Shark and Cherry Pitz Present:
Doctor Who Returns to Hotsy Totsy Burlesque!

218 Bowery (between Prince and Spring)
8pm   *   September 18, 2012   *   $10
Advanced tickets available on
Sponsored by Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum who promise drink specials and awesome swag!

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