Sword, Sorcery & Striptease comes to House of Yes, courtesy of BQNY Theatrical. I couldn't be more excited to be part of this show again. Unlike most burlesque reviews you may see in NYC, this one is a fully scripted story, jam packed with winks to fantasy fans.
Sword, Sorcery & Striptease Tickets will show on Thursday, July 21st at House of Yes, and the doors will open at 7pm.
The cast includes a colorful array of gender expressions, sexualities, and body types. Boylesque's godfather himself, Tigger! will be playing a mysterious wizard (so really, not far off the star chart). BB Heart, who has become a rare treat in the burlesque scene since her career as an artisan hair stylist has taken off, will play a fearsome dragon (again, not too much of a stretch for this queer tattooed whirlwind). Here's what's so exciting about a diverse group of burlesque stars creating their own fantasy legend: they are not tied to Hollywood banalities. They are free to create their own interpretations.
I sat down with the writer of this tale, Jonny Porkpie, to give his inside interpretation.
Lewd Alfred Douglas (LAD): What can burlesque bring to the fantasy genre?
Johnny Porkpie (JP): Parody, and sexiness! This show gleefully embraces all meanings of the word burlesque, including both theatrical striptease and a satirical storyline that lovingly pokes fun at all aspects of the fantasy genre. Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Chronicles of Narnia, The Wheel of Time — none of them are safe from our unclad eye. These days, you can find both dragons and nudity in your fantasy TV shows, but only in burlesque will you find the dragon herself taking off her clothes!
LAD: Will queer audiences like this show?
JP: Oh HELL yeah. Anyone with even a passing knowledge of fantasy/sword and sorcery will get a kick out of it, and there's plenty of fun easter eggs for the uber-nerds.
LAD: Tell me about your own character.
JP: My character starts as the standard "unexceptional straight while male" — so unfortunately prevalent in fantasy — except in this world, instead of everyone telling him he's special, all the women on the quest keep telling him how useless he actually is. He finally becomes a legit member of the team when he inherits Objects of Power from his twin, who is a legendary warrior: the rings of power, the sword of power, the heels of power, and the brassiere of power. This might be clever insight into my inner identity. On the other hand, it might just be another excuse for me to wear my heels.
I have been cast in this show as the "Evil Prince" — an archetype usually reserved for cis actors aping queer-coded stereotypes. I'm just about old enough to remember a time where the only queer representation in fantasy genres was an effeminate or effete villain, ultimately brought down by his vanity and cowardice. As a result, many LGBT people (but especially those on the femme side of the spectrum) ended up relating to villains, and seeing their own sexuality in their hinted villainous aspects. Classic examples being Disney's Maleficent, Ursula, Jafar, Prince John, and Ratcliffe. Most color-coded in purple, all with a sexual edge unfit for the rest of the cast. Though I'm grateful that queer representation in fantasy has moved a little beyond this, I still hold this archetype close to my heart and relish being able to give it a send-up in this show.
My interpretation of the Evil Prince will of course inhabit a transgender body, and adopt the air of a spoiled Roman emperor. Every angry snap at his underling (Cheeky Lane) and every command for an execution is a righteous punishment against the status quo, against all typically virtuous and cis-het heros.
No matter what you're into, this burlesque tale will have something for you, from the elegant grace of Tansy Tandora to the writer himself, leggy and long-locked Jonny Porkpie. I'm pleased as punch to be telling this story with them again.