Racy, glamorous, mysterious: three of many words that describe the Clocktower Cabaret’s Burlesque Show on Thursdays at the D&F Clock Tower in Denver.
First, a bit of history. The British Blondes brought burlesque to the United States from Britain in 1868, introducing scandalous dancing and bare legs to the New York show scene. This led to the “American version” of burlesque known as “striptease.” The concept of burlesque, however, is not all about the nudity of the dancer. Dancers combine acting, dance and sexuality in order to fulfill the art of burlesque.
The show took place on the lower level of the Clock Tower. Stairs leading down into the venue led to a dim and intimate room, where the show took place. A booth sold tiaras and feather boas to allow the audience to get into the burlesque character.
The deep red, velvet-embellished space was packed with tables and chairs facing a small stage in the front of the room. Larry, the pianist for the production, played swanky jazz songs for the guests as they entered.
Naughty Pierre, the host of the show, was one of the highlights of the night. The Frenchman, dressed in a glistening sports jacket, announced all of the acts. In between each performance, Naughty Pierre would recite dirty jokes and personal anecdotes about his affinity towards women and burlesque.
“Alcohol, boobies, good music,” Pierre said, speaking about his personal favorite attributes of burlesque.
A woman dressed as a promiscuous postman opened the show. She wore her hair in pigtails and sported navy blue booty shorts and a collared button-up shirt. She did a 50s style dance to the iconic song “Please Mr. Postman” by the Marvelettes. Her dance reflected the decade of postwar America. She concluded her performance with stripping off her clothes, to the point where she was naked except for pasties over her breasts and minuscule panties.
A belly dancer, a 60s fanatic and an 80s workout dancer were just a few examples of some of the dancers that night. Each dancer had her own flashy tearaway costume. Peggy Tulane, an icon in the Denver Burlesque scene, did a routine where she suspended herself using ribbons dangling from the ceiling.
The Mermaid Trio was the most interesting act of the night. Their act incorporated a drag queen. Two of the men were dressed as sailors with glitter matting their faces. The third member of the trio wore a glitter embellished mermaid tail and a sparkling silver bra. The three men did an elaborate routine that included the two sailors carrying around the mermaid and, of course, men in thongs.
“So my pants don’t come off, whatever,” said Bender, one of the sailors from the Mermaid Trio, when asked if he got nervous while performing.
The White Breasted Spit Swallow also stole the show. A woman dressed in nothing but white feathers pranced around the stage, while a man in a camouflage outfit pretended to hunt her. The two engaged in an oddly sexual yet suspenseful interaction including the hunter removing his pants, displaying alarmingly red boxer briefs.
“It was really cool to see the original form of how people used to seek racy entertainment,” said Brooke Russell, a freshman at CU.
Overall, the Clocktower Cabaret’s burlesque production was jaw-dropping, from the sensual scenery to the delicious appetizers served during the show. The performers did a great job in incorporating the audience in the show and even selected four people to learn how to dance burlesque.
The Clocktower Cabaret puts on shows almost every night of the week, from Sexy Circus to Boy-Lesque. Although fully entertaining, I only recommend their shows to a mature audience, especially because going with parents would be pretty awkward for middle schoolers, if you know what I mean.
I give the Clocktower Cabaret Burlesque show a 9/10. This show in particular runs every Thursday evening.
Contact CU Independent Arts Writer Sam Danshes at firstname.lastname@example.org.