Kat de Lac

On February 27, Kat De Lac put on Totally Heartlesque, the Steel City Kitty Variety Show’s annual Valentine’s Day event. I headed down to The Rex Theater on East Carson Street to check out the show. I was not disappointed…

Big, Big, Big: With a whopping 17 performances, hometown stars, top headliners from around the country, games involving audience participation, merchandise, sexy support ladies in costume fromkat hosting Kat’s core group and Smokin’ Betties, and even stage dancers Macbre Nior and Lita D’Vargas during intermissions (2 intermissions for such a large bill), this was easily the biggest show of its kind I’ve ever been to. In general, I’ve found that The Steel City Kitties and their imported headliners tend to favor a more modern approach to burlesque stylistically. There were some of the classic routines and music to be sure (gorgeous ladies Hazel Honeysuckle and Blaze, The Red Rose of Texas, dominated that end of the spectrum), but on the whole, the pace was just a bit faster and the vibe a bit edgier, both musically and in terms of theming. With so many performances, I will easily exceed space, but here are the notable highlights from all the performances.  

Being dead never looked so sexy: All of the performers put a lot of thought and creativity into costumes, but Chicago represented most strongly in the costume and makeup categories. In addition to the very creative (and convincing!) costumes and performance of Dusty Bahls, Red Rum offered up 2 dark shows, one lighter and sexier, and the other truly dark, her Egyptian themed performance to red rumthe strains of Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust.” In a sphinx headdress and royal mummy attire, and with bursts of an actual dust (we can only hope it was baby powder, and not the actual dust of the grave) when she clapped her hands (or other parts), it was easily, in my opinion, the most clever costume design of the show. Well done Queen of The Undead. That said, her sexy stature and graceful moves were queenly indeed. She closed out the number by falling dead on the stage in a cloud of dust to the rowdy delight of spectators. Both of her performances were characterized by very elaborate costumes and makeup, though the “Crazy Train” act, in red zombie/swashbuckler outfit, was a bit lighter in both texture and delivery. That act, with its absence of dust, but elaborate death face, showcased a very talented dancer and a lovely body which belies the macabre style of her attire.

America’s Titties Got Talent: At one point Jeremy Creamer, co-host/technical support maestro, and the rock in Kat De Lac’s life, brings a theremin onto the stage. He does a little background on the theramininstrument and plays it a bit, then brings out buxom lass Just Jingles, clad in enticing black lingerie and a smile. She takes a turn using just her ample breasts to wring erotic, spacey tones out of the classic electronic instrument. It was one of those short but sweet moments that stood out; the proverbial little things…with the exception of Ms. Jingles’ endowments of course. In general, I felt that Mr. Creamer’s contribution to the show gave the male contingent of the audience a voice.  It’s something one rarely sees in Pittsburgh burlesque these days, where cross dressing male comics are a staple among the emcees and color people who make burlesque happen. It was a nice touch which made the vibe of the show totally inclusive in what is emerging as a popular night out for married couples which is classy yet involves bare tits.

Maul me baby: I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when NYC’s adorable, button nosed, Dangrrr Doll hit the stage in an enveloping bear costume, head to toe, complete with oversized amusement park sexy bearcharacter head. While the costume is clearly covering a lovely lady, what is that bulge in her pants? As she sheds the costume to a remix of “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” the bulge is revealed to be a stuffed toy salmon, which she proceeds to mime the devouring of. The ensuing dance and striptease is brash and racy, but with a playfulness which keeps it just short of true lewdness. It’s pure sexual comedy camp from the golden days of this art, updated for modern music and dance moves, but what makes it work so damn well is the sexiness and skill of the performer. With a face and body like movie stars of old (think Grace Kelly's face on Marilyn Monroe's body) and absolute commitment of every expression of that pretty face and movement of that beautiful body, she truly sold every innuendo with a look. What also moved me was her versatility; in her first set performance, decked out in regal red with long straight black hair, and more serious makeup, she looked like a different woman.

Stand and salute: Hailing from Washington DC, former soldier Private Tails burned up the stage with a sexy, energetic dance number in her first set performance, and it showcased her great moves. But private tailswhat really reached me was her classy, comedic rendition of “Whatever Happened To My Part?” She emerges in all black, gradually stripping or reversing the outfits to reveal pink lingerie and corset beneath. The delivery is all Broadway, with a complete absence of overtly sexual posturing. In fact, while her first number was definitely intended to be demurely provocative and thrived on it, with forceful and fluid Janet Jackson-like moves and looks, her metaphorical second performance was only striptease in the sense that, yes, she did remove her clothes.  And yes, the flourishing switch from black to pink created an alluring and pleasing burst of contrast to her brown skin. But the performer throwing it all into “her part”, with lots of engaging eye contact and body language, was what gave this bit its true show stopping identity. Mission accomplished soldier.

Cookie Monster: The drop dead gorgeous Hazel Honeysuckle hails from NYC, and I must say is one of the most beautiful women I’ve seen. Kat De Lac describes her costumes, delivery and comedycookie monster as “on point”, and the beauty delivered with style and vibrance. Taking the stage in a tight blue gown and Cookie Monster headpiece with giant eyes, undulating to a slow and sexy blues number, and eating cookies guiltily from a large jar while removing the clothes, even removing the cookies from strategic hiding places within her costume and consuming them; what is it about food and sex? Her tassels and undies were, of course, cookie themed. This was another performance marked by exceptional strength of commitment to the part, and to the crowd. She even shared with the audience, tossing cookies out to them, sharing one via kiss with an audience member. “You want some?” she audibly asked. Yes. Yes, we do. All we can get, in fact. Her delightful first set performance, also in blue (which brunettes seem to rock so well) was a more straightforward and classic number which was nonetheless very steamy.

Drag King extraordinaire: Chicago was very well represented by the creativity of very convincing on a boatcomedy drag king Dusty Bahls. This talented “gent” scores high marks for both costume (“Love Boat”/”On A Boat”, featuring an actual small boat attached around the hips) and performance, with a humorous rendition of “When Doves Cry” complete with dead dove dolls and a shower of feathers upon the ripping off of a white shirt. Dusty poured out exaggerated, tongue in cheek angst with clearly smiling eyes while somehow remaining committed to the incongruously serious formatting of the act.

Yes, he has bananas: I don’t enjoy shows I film. I can’t relax or break character because I will miss something or get a bad shot. I must admit it was harder to film Smokin’ McQueen because I slipped up and laughed…a lot. Of all the sexy near naked ladies to be seen this evening, his costume was easily the most skimpy of the night. Wearing NOTHING but a fruity headdress and one VERY banana boystrategically placed banana thong, he rocked out to “Banana Boat Song.” While the act was done as pure tease/parody (and was hilarious) that didn’t stop the female contingent of the audience from lewdly expressing their appreciation for his slim physique. The only inches to pinch on this kid were (barely) concealed by the banana! While we can’t be sure just how much banana the banana was concealing, the implication was significant. Ah burlesque, the only serious review fodder which indulges my love of making nipple and dick jokes. In any event, he also did a fine job with some of the host duties, with an infectious energy which revved up the crowd.

Hot as hell: Chicago’s Dahliah Fatale is slim, athletic and a very sexy lady and dancer. Her performance style was smooth but not at all subtle, especially the serpentine grace and very overt dahlia fatalesexuality of her “She Bop” number, done to the more sensuous acoustic version of the song. In fact, what struck me about her 2 performances was that both were characterized by slower, acoustic songs used effectively to convey a sense of intimacy with the audience, and by minimalism of costume (and I mean minimal; only McQueen wore less) and maximum skill, grace and flexibility, and strength. The girl has exceptional feline musculature and can hold a pose which most can never attain. Her commitment to the audience was great, but she clearly loses (or finds) herself during these performances, giving the audience the feeling of sneak peaking a private, candid moment. Very effective, and very sexy.


 

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Light my fire: They say things are bigger and better in Texas, and Blaze, The Red Rose of Texas, is an exceptionaly fine example of this fact. This luscious and top heavy redhead opted for a classic jessica rabbitcabaret approach which made the most of her wonderful figure, abundant in all the right places, and her sensual moves. With dazzling smile, hair and curves, she definitely spiked the temperature in the room in red and gold gown and red corset against which her wonderfully abundant boobage strained. Classy and understated in her delivery, her demure style and striking looks seemed to only egg on the audience, who rewarded the lovely Southern lass with lots of ribald cheering. Her sexuality was at once implied and very emphatic; a woman who could knock over a tall building with a blown kiss, and it provided a nice contrast to the overall contemporary feel of the evenings’ festivities. A Jessica Rabbit type of woman of who used it to great effect with a set of performances which, along with Hazel Honeysuckle and Private Tails, helped to keep the vibe of the event very true to the roots of the art.  

The Hostess with the Mostess: Having witnessed Kat De Lac’s smokin’ hot dance moves and sense of commitment to costume and energy early in her career (“Ghostbusters”; Lava Lounge; complete with authentic outfit, blaster, and backpack) I knew early on she had “it” and would be sticking with it. She has done so in a big way, making her way around the globe and becoming a bedrock member of the burlesque community. She's a real beauty and always has been, but thetwo hearts scope and story-telling of her performances have come very a long way. She ran a tight show, had easy rapport with the audience, and humor which was always right in the moment to keep the crowd loose between sets. Having known her since she was a kid, I could tell there was nothing rehearsed about it. It was the easy stride of a performer who is now well versed in the role, but has simply made the role an adaptation of her natural charisma. For one of the closing acts, she took the stage with the lovely (and boobilicious) Just Jingles for an adorable “Two Hearts” medley/duet. Each bearing half of a large red heart jaggedly torn in twain, they act out a tale of love, heartbreak and reconciliation. Where most of the performers were working the audience directly, this act called for the performers to engage one another more and the girls came through like champs. Each song in the medley represented a different stage in the emotional journey thus portrayed, finally coming full circle back to “Two Hearts”, as the ladies kiss and make up, rejoining the 2 halves of the heart. It was a well themed and executed bit of stage work, and the performers clearly enjoyed the space afforded by the Rex’s large stage, capering and prancing, mock fighting, and generally using lots of wide ranging movement to work various parts of the crowd, drawing them into the act more like friends caught in the middle of the breakup rather than spectators. It was a very nice touch to wind down the evening and it tied the overall theme of the show together neatly, and in a very fun loving way, contrasting to and yet uniting the various performances.

Conclusion: For such a large show, one which went smoothly and never let the audience get cold; the mark of the true professionals. Kat De Lac has come a long way, and Totally Heartlesque was a big milestone in her development from a local upstart to a player in the scene nationally. Burlesque is, basically, one big happy, incestuous family, and the top performers in various key cities are more like branch managers of important regional offices; they work together as allied stewards of a sacred trustbig finish handed down to them and which they will one day pass on to others. 17(!) performances aren’t easy to pull off without a hitch, but Kat De Lac, The Steel City Kitties and their guests did a great job. Making this festival sized show happen, and turning the chaos of preshow (a whirl of pretty, brightly costumed ladies of every description, running around like crazy and making last minute adjustments) into the nearly flawless order of show-time is impressive with anything this big. Only stand-up comics are armed with less, and the level of talent on display was world class. This show proved that Kat De Lac is now, along with stalwarts like Macbre Nior, a boss of the Pittsburgh branch of the Burlesque family, helping to grow the brand here. The growing strength of her art, the excellent core group she has assembled, the mentoring of new performers here and traveling to work with top performers there and bringing in that top talent and their positive influence on the scene here: These are the real trophies a performer piles up, the tokens of street cred earned, and, in this case, well spent. I am looking forward to the next show, when I can put down the camera for once, kick back, drink my fill and maybe have a cigar, and participate in catcalling which is both appreciated and expected. In the meantime, I will have to content myself with getting drunk and watching and editing the footage here at home. - J 


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Category: Spotlight