Red Hots Burlesque — the longest running queer burlesque show in the country, according to founder and producer Dottie Lux — moves out of the bars and into the theater with Burlesque and WHY (The Naked Truth), a show-and-tell built around the biographies and personalities of its performers, an eclectic group of burlesque artists comprised of Dottie Lux, the Lady Ms. Vagina Jenkins, Magnoliah Black, Lay-Si Luna, Alexa Von Kickinface, and Burlesque Hall of Famer Ellion Ness. It runs through Sun/4 at StageWerx.
As Lux suggests in her introduction to the show, the theater as a venerated space for storytelling provides a rare opportunity to ‘class up’ the act a little — by talking about class for these working bodies, as well as about race, body issues, feminism, aging, and much more — all in direct address and various states of undress, through two 35-minute sets of vignettes and straight-up striptease that run the gamut from playful eroticism to defiant meditations on self-worth and solidarity with the outcast and oppressed.
Sure, the acting and stagecraft can be stilted, erratic, and a little shaky — everything beyond the burlesque numbers themselves, that is, which are generally sure and precise. But then it’s a theatrical outing like no other. And the performers redeem the rough edges with their agile curves as well as the pride, confidence, and natural charm they bring to the enterprise. These women have strong voices and compelling stories. And away from the barroom din, to the supportive calls of audience members, they ring out clearly, with lots of sass, well-earned brazenness, and even self-effacing humor. But then a burlesque performer knows a little modesty can go a long way.
Red Hots Burlesque Presents: Burlesque and WHY (The Naked Truth)
Tonight, 10pm; Sat/3, 7 and 10pm; Sun/4, 5 and 8pm, $5-$35
446 Valencia, SF