KitschyYumYum returns:

Less narrative, more flesh

Posted: Thursday, March 24, 2005

The KitschyYumYum Delect-able Burlesque Co. has lampooned the origins of the Pilgrim Thanksgiving, given birth to a small dog to the tune of Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach," and enacted a romantic scenario with George W. Bush, God and a mega-ton missile.

That was all last October, during the Juneau group's "Horn-oh!-Plenty" cavalcade at the Hangar Ballroom. And hence, the age-old question: Where do they go from here?

Saturday night's show, "The Carnal Canal: Your Inside Passage to Pleasure," promises less script, more dance, more strip-tease and a similar level of bizarre, bawdy assaults on American institutions.

"This is a little bit more random than the last show," said group co-founder Melissa Davis. "I really think this show will push a lot of limits, just like the last one, that people don't expect it to go. It will definitely keep people on their toes."

The show starts at 10 p.m. at the Hangar Ballroom in the Merchant's Wharf building. Alcohol will be served, so its 21 and over. Tickets are $10 to $15 at the door on a sliding scale, pay what you can. The show will sell out. Get there at least an hour early to assure yourself a ticket.

The madness will continue after the show with DJ Rob Roys hosting a dance party until close.

"Sex has gotten to the point where it's so blasé," co-founder John Leo said. "We still have a lot of taboos, and if anyone saw 'Kinsey,' he talked about how our shame makes us want (those taboos) so much more.

"Burlesque is glorifying those taboos," he said. "People think burlesque is about being sexy and about being vulgar. But we're also about acknowledging that line is there, and saying it's OK to transgress."

Leo and Davis were hesitant to reveal the details of Saturday's show. But this much is known: The show will include lip-synching, song, live music, choreographed dancing, a duet involving red Lycra, a guest appearance by "Leonard Cohen," an ode to nudie bars to the tune of "Money, Money, Money" and some sort of skit involving a giant egg.

Glenn Merrill will play a sleazy French emcee, the counterpart to "Joe," a Carhartt-clad Southeast Alaskan.

At one point during the show, the house band will break into a ska version of Iron Butterfly's "Ina Gada Da Vida." The company will invite all interested parties to line up, come on-stage and deliver an improvisational 30-second performance.

"Come with jokes, come with a dance, come up with something," Leo said. "It's like open mike, but on crack."

KitschyYumYum is slowly evolving into a more serious troupe after the success of the sold-out "Horn-Oh!-Plenty" and the spectacle of "Drag Race" on Valentine's Day 2004. The actors are not strippers, yet pretend to be. In a sense, they celebrate illusion.

"There's power in that," Leo said. "You want to see something, but you're not going to. And because you're watching, it's a wonderful opportunity for high art and low art to meet. We're going to slip in beauty and art at the same time that you're drinking and guffawing."

Perseverance Theatre's recent production of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" has been a source of inspiration, even prompting the burlesque company to briefly consider a multi-night run.

"I think Hedwig proved that you could fill a house here every weekend with naughtiness, sometimes two shows a night," Leo said.

"The kind of show that it was, it was kind of a surprise, given Juneau," Davis said. "It just shows that people are interested in the alternative theater."

KitschyYumYum has been meeting once a week for the last two months in preparation for "Carnal Canal" and is aiming to be something of a "writer's workshop" for burlesque. The group comprises a loose assortment of about 30 players and always accepts newcomers. Ask Davis or Leo for more information at the show.

Jesse Higdon's first burlesque experience was in "Horn-Oh!-Plenty." She's one of many actors who have returned.

"It's a good chance for people in a smaller community like this to get out and do something that's not available at all, something really creative and different," she said. "The last show, it was really exciting to see how well-received it was. Some of the things I thought we were going over the line with. When it came down to it, it was just right. It was enough exceeding the expectations of what people thought they were getting with this show."

Montgomery Mahaffey will perform a strip-tease to Muddy Waters' "Mannish Boy." She came up with the idea two years ago while listening to the song, but missed the last two burlesque shows.

"It took me this long to get up enough nerve to do it," Mahaffey said. "If you think of things, you ought to do them. But something like this is definitely pushing me out of my comfort zone."

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