[RECAP] May The Fourth Be With You: A Star Wars Burlesque at the Ethical Society of Philadelphia 5/4/17

Not Safe For Wookiees

During the first week of May there are two kinds of people. Those who think Cinco De Mayo is an actual holiday and those of us who know the true holiday is the day before and celebrates geek culture rather than appropriating a marginalized one, Star Wars Day, or as our favorite pun states, May The Fourth Be With You! While this particular date is of no importance to the sci-fi franchise itself and originated as a cheeky newspaper headline congratulating the U.K.’s newly elected Prime Minister in 1979, it none the less has gained traction over the years.  While George Lucas may have created the universe itself, fans around the world have made it their own in a variety of ways including recognizing and allocating this day as the official celebration of our beloved fandom. Observing the day itself usually ranges from classic trilogy movie marathons often shared with or introduced to younger generations, to parties, festivals, cosplay events, and even, if you’re lucky enough to live in the City of Brotherly Love, a Broad Street Burlesque tribute show!

May The Fourth Be With You: A Star Wars Burlesque, was probably one of the sexiest and funniest ways to honor your inner Jedi or Sith, both of which, whether light or dark, have a naughty side. Hosted at the Ethical Society of Philadelphia in Rittenhouse Square, this time around, unlike their first Star Wars tribute, The Farce Awakens, this show focused on the some of the newest characters to be introduced into the universe. While the first time around they paid homage to the original trilogy, this time out Episode 7: The Force Awakens was the inspiration behind this galactic gallivanting.

The venue provided just the right space for The Force to literally come alive, even if it was in a pervy kind of dad joke-esque way.  Once again hosted by world class magician, Francis Menotti aka The Force, who not only treated us to some simple, yet well done and crowd pleasing tricks, this time around The Force seemed to be much more at home with ebb and flow of the camp filled raunchiness this troupe is well known for.  He and the gorgeous Flrt Vonnegut traded clever quips throughout the show that proved why it is we have so much love for that shiny protocol droid, C3PO or should I say FVPO (hope I got that right, we don’t need Lucas or Flrt suing anybody!). Relegated to stage kitten, sadly his talent for calculating the odds of failure and being well versed in over 6 million languages was wasted as he was expected to clean up the discarded garments and wounded Stormtroopers left strewn across the stage. In the end, if your items came back in a jumble, you can’t blame him, he’s an interpreter, how’s he supposed to know a power socket from a computer terminal.

 

As I said, for many of these performers, this was not their first podrace and while we were delighted to see many new characters brought to life in NSFW kind of way, we cannot forget the classic villain combination of Vader and the Stormtroopers.  Reprising her role as the Sith Lord, Pizza Wolf, put just the right spin, literally, on one of the world’s most well-known evil doers.  Pizza Wolf knew how to work that cape in a way that was commanding with just the right touch of grace, not exactly words you expect to use when describing Vader.  The timing of her reveals combined with a subtle cheekiness balanced the act in a way that felt powerful, fun, and hot enough to have the audience desperate to get in on the infamous chokehold action.  Along with other performers fulfilling double duty on this night, Wolf was joined later in the show by Honey Tree Evileye, Renaissance Noir, Masokiss and the elegant Asha Rabbit, all donning the the iconic, white plastic armor and giving us a well done Rockettes style chorus line.

Speaking of elegance, Asha Rabbit had the honor of bringing yet another returning character to the stage, Princess Leia Organa.  After recently losing our favorite princess and general, it was refreshing to see this tribute ditch the overdone slave costume for the more fluent and delicate white robe.  Rabbit pulled this off beautifully as she bears a striking resemblance to the young, carefree Carrie Fisher. From her cherub like cheeks to the childlike innocence in her eyes, Rabbit was a great choice to pull off the dynamic character that turns out not to be your average damsel in distress.  In a routine that unapologetically celebrated every curve of her body, Rabbit not only brought us an act that was as entertaining as it was sexy, but it absolutely embodied all the things we’ve come to love not only about Leia, but about Carrie herself. It was strong, empowered, and feminine and made me wish Fisher was there to sprinkle her with glitter in appreciation.

One of the hardest working, underrated talents in the burlesque scene, MasoKiss, brought us a bratty rendition of the Vader’s emo grandson himself, Kylo Ren. Complete with a fanboy bedroom backdrop, MasoKiss owned the role of a petulant, would be Sith Master, desperately wanting to be taken serious.  In an act best described as a rock ballet, her slow and deliberate moves were just the right mixture to produce the brooding emo essence that is Ren. As much as that combo worked and as sultry a performance as it was, it felt just a little stifled. I have seen firsthand just how talented a dancer she is and while this act felt like she wasn’t quite bringing her A game, I couldn’t help but wonder if that was all a part of the act.  After all, Ren is full of potential but he just keeps coming up shy of becoming a Master….was that the intent of the routine? If so, MasoKiss is even more brilliant than I thought!

Renaissance Noir and Liberty Rose had the pleasure of bringing to life two of my favorite new heroes in the saga, Finn and Rey.  While Rose is well known for her classic burlesque style, keeping you captivated by showcasing the lines of the body in a way that proves there is definitely an art to this style of striptease, Noir’s style is more of classic remixed with funk.  Her edge and presence immediately commands any stage she’s on without ever saying a word.  You can literally feel the confidence and general badassery emanating from her.  Both of these ladies gave stellar performances with Noir bringing a bit of brash and boyish like charm to her booty shaking and Rose with her alluring use of accessories and clothing that provide her with the perfect props to for tempting and titillating. Proving once again that a well-chosen wardrobe can be much more than just layers to be discarded in a race to the big payoff, Rose knows how to use every article on her body to keep you captivated during each one of her seductive numbers.

All of these smoldering routines and I haven’t even told you about the show stealers! Yes, friends, as hot as all of this has been so far, there were not one, not two, but 3 different acts, well placed throughout the show that stole your heart and tickled your funny bone while still managing to be pretty damn seductive. I have to admit, that when I saw Sharp Robert emerge with a Jar Jar mask, I was taken aback and skeptical to say the least. Yes, I even participating in the booing as he took to the stage as every old school Star Wars fan’s most loathed character.  To be fair, we were booing Binks, not Robert, however the sound of jeers did not deter this fabulous fanboy as he embraced the hate and turned JarJar not only into a Sith, but into one of my favorite acts of the night. Yes, Sharp Robert and his comically adorable Darth Jar Jar act, managed to find a way to sell me on a character I hate. Try as I may, I could not avoid the charms of that goofy Gungan face on top of Roberts soft and sexy body. It was so stinking cute! Once he brought out some feathery red fans and incorporated them in the act, I was done! Sold! Somehow Sharp Robert had taken one of Star Wars most despised creations and turned him into the sweetest little sexy Sith you’ve ever seen. Even now, I’m not selling this as well as he did. If you get the chance to see him reprise this routine do not hesitate, you will not be disappointed.

Speaking of acts that should not be issued, Honeytree EvilEye practically brought down the house with one of the sweetest, most endearing acts I have ever had the pleasure of seeing.  As BB-8, she impressed me not only with the whimsical creativeness behind the number but with her leg strength! In an inflatable costume, she remained and hopped in the squat position for a good ten minutes straight before even starting her routine. If you’ve ever done squats you know just how insane her leg muscles have to be to pull tha off.  Now add into the mix that she performed the first half of her act in an inflated ball and was still managing to bring the heat while doing so and you can begin to understand why it is she stole and won the night!  With a mix of songs ranging from Limp Bizkit’s “Rollin’” and Ludacris’ “Roll Out,” she had the audience cracking up and completely entranced! Once she ditched the costume, she used body movement and facial expressions to stay in character never truly becoming deflated.  EvilEye has a booty for days and she knows how to work it for sure, but this act showed an understanding of so many different things from comedic timing to working props. EvilEye has quickly become a selling point for me when I see her name listed on the cast and if you were smart, you’d make sure to catch her performing asap!

The finale and third show stealer of the night, came from the most likely of Star Wars villains to be seen as sexy, General Palpatine!  All the way from Houston, Texas JD Hickcock brought the Emperor to life with the most haunting pair of blue eyes I have ever seen. The tall, lean, and lithe performer put together an act that was one part rat pack, one part Buffalo Bill, and all parts geeky and graceful! Between him and Robert, I left that show with strange feelings for characters I’ve never thought of in that way, it’s amazing what a cute, creative mind combined with talent can do to a gal! Believe me when I say I will definitely be looking him up the next time I’m in Texas to see if I can catch another performance.

One of the best ways I can describe the amazing nerd themed burlesque scene that is being cultivated in this city is to say that it is like erotic fan fiction, brought to life. Fun, tongue in cheek stories interwoven between hilarious and hot routines that bring your favorite characters to life while putting a new perspective on ones you never gave a second glance to.  With every new show, we are delighted to new talent. May The Fourth was no different as it brought together a bunch of talented nerds and introduced many of us to local Star Wars brass band, Wookidelphia. Yes, you read those words right. They provided a John Williams-esque feel to the sounds of the night not only playing during intermission but providing a few of the acts with a live soundtrack to perform to as well.  From production to choreography, props to casting, this show hit its mark by providing one of the most original and entertaining ways to celebrate being a fanboy or fangirl on one of our most sacred of days.  If you are not yet familiar with the nerdlesque titans Broad St. Burlesque and tales of a twerking BB-8, a grandiose Gungan, and voluptuous villains is not enough to peak your interest then I suggest you come to the dark side and learn the ways of the force, because disappointed, you won’t be.

Photos by Jamie See, Words by Heather Fox

 

 

Heather Fox, is an aspiring cook and artist in her free time. By day she teaches Literacy for the Boys&Girls Club of Philadelphia and by night she dons the role of foXXXy contin, hard hitting blocker for South Jersey Roller Derby. This native Philadelphian and self-proclaimed Geek Girl, resides in Port Richmond where she continues to feed her love of pop culture with all things horror, comic book, and Star Wars related.
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