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There are two things I like. Naked women and Fallout. I had been aware of the D20 Burlesque show for some time; they do monthly performances where attractive women strip out of nerdy outfits, and this month their theme was “Dystopia”, complete with a piece based on the post-apocalyptic dystopian game Fallout. With my “Pip boy” firmly in hand, I attended the show over the weekend.
Even before the performance began, there were plenty of indications that these dancers were full of authentic nerd cred; the drink menu had a selection of cocktails named after things from dystopian games and novels, including the Two Minutes Hate, Adam, and the PIP Boy 2000 (Note the “2000” indicating these that these ladies dwell in the classic Fallout Vault 13).
Assured that this wasn’t shameless exploitation of horny nerds, I settled in for the show. which had good balance of humor, sex appeal and artiness. The crowd was a blend of women, men, hipsters, and nerds, with no dirty old men in sight.
Things started off with a fully-dressed man. Not quite what I was expecting, but MC “Bastard Keith” got the audience warmed up with some comedy and music, before bringing out a Go Go dancer, Luna Liprani who warmed us up in an entirely different manner. Because the venue served alcohol, NYC laws prevented full nudity, so Luna and the other performers never stripped down to less than g-string and pasties.
Anja Keister, who runs D20 Burlesque, danced to “I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire” while decked out in Fallout 3’s “Raider Painspike Armor”. She gets credit for avoiding the obvious Vault Tech jumpsuit and going with something rather obscure. Add in a set of pasties made from Nuka Cola caps plus the Ink Spots tune and she hit the nail on the head by encapsulating Fallout into one sexy vignette.
Another piece for video game fans was a Bioshock sequence in which Iris Explosion dressed as a Little Sister, and the audience could vote on whether they wanted to “Save” or “Harvest” her – a reference to one of the gameplay choices in Bioshock. At this performance the heartless jerks in the crowd voted to “Harvest” the poor dear, but I certainly hope that the next time Iris does this bit she gets a more heroic crowd.
Acts included dystopian references from other forms of media, including Miss Rose as Cornelia from the obscure Bruce Campbell movie Mindwarp. Busty Kitten danced as Blade Runner’s sexy skin job Priss, and the amazing Hazel Honeysuckle recreated the seductive robot Maria from Metropolis. For anime otaku there was Stella Chu, a rising star of the nerd burlesque scene, dressed as Rei from Neon Genesis Evangelion (Complete with bandages).
Aside from naughty fun, a couple of the acts were rather artsy, like Dangrrr Doll’s interpretation of the novel 1984, in which she wore a camera on her head, and completely desexualized herself, becoming creepy rather than erotic. Well, maybe not "Completely" desexualized...
Aside from the taking off of much clothing, D20 Burlesque also gives away stuff to the audience. There was not only a raffle for nerdy prizes like Post Apocalyptic table-top games, but also a trivia contest in which two audience members competed to see who knew the most about obscure movies, games and books with Dystopian, or post-apocalyptic themes.
Nerdy burlesque is surprisingly common now-a-days in New York City. Having reviewed a few other geek burlesque shows, I saw some familiar faces among the roster of performers at this show. Hazel Honeysuckle and Iris Explosion seem to be ubiquitous to these events.
D20 Burlesque performs on a monthly basis with a different theme each time, such as video games, zombies, or HP Lovecraft. While there are other troupes doing this same sort of schtick, D20 Burlesque has a greater emphasis on audience interaction than the other shows. It’s a fun, creative take on burlesque, with some impressively authentic nerdliness. More about their next show can be found at their website.
Tipping the go go girl is encouraged (And rewarding), although they won’t accept Nuka Cola caps as currency.
Photos by Sue-Yee Leung.