A week before the opening of one of the most anticipated movies of the year, Liberty Rose’s Sexploitation Follies treated us to an early holiday gift with their send up of the original saga entitled, The Farce Awakens: A Burlesque Tribute to Star Wars. Her and her cast of sexy looking nerf herders delighted the audience with plenty of laughs, entertainment, and of course, some sci-fi steaminess! With two shows back to back at the Philly MOCA, myself and some of my derby girls were lucky enough to get into the standing room only second show, that may have gotten off to a little bit of a late start, but proved to be well worth the wait.
Sticking to tradition, they kicked it off with the iconic scrolling screen and opening credit score that lets your audience know you’re in store for an epic event and serves as the easiest way to get a good geek crowd roaring and ready for what you’re about to bring to the stage. Our host Frank “The Wizard” Menotti, aka The Force managed to keep his clothes on throughout the night but contributed his own brand of entertainment with a quick wit and an even quicker hand. His magic tricks gave it just the right touch of Vaudeville and lets you know that this troupe takes their old school burlesque style seriously. Just like in the very first, original Star Wars, now known as A New Hope, the first person to grace us with their ominous presence was Darth Vader. Turns out, even with an oversized version of his infamous helmet, Margot Starlux was able to bring some serious sexiness to this Sith Lord. Using the cape much like old school performers would make use of big feathery fans, she definitely got the night off to a great start.
Performances such as the solo acts of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia fell a little flat on the audience. For Avi Luvalati as Luke, the performance may have been a little better received had we saw his transformation into Jedi, but it seemed more of just a lack lustered introduction of the driving character form a part in the movie where he is in more of a whiney, “I need more than these moisture farms can offer” moment. Maso Kiss may have looked great in her costume but Slave Leia is starting to become an overdone and obligatory costume in the world of fanboyism and while it might fulfill a nerd’s wet dream to see it come to life, I would’ve like to see more nods to the Princess’ strength and overall fierceness. While neither of these performers were lacking in talent or ability, the force seemed to be stronger with acts with a little more kitsch factor.
The same could possibly be said of Liberty Rose’s performance of the intergalactic smuggler himself, Han Solo. However, Liberty’s sharp and well executed, old school style, as well as her ability to work a garter belt like nobody’s business, brings a certain essence of burlesque noir charm that few people can compete with. She proves over and over that camp is not always a necessary ingredient to entertain a raucous crowd. Her technically clean performances and emphasis on showcasing the lovely lines of the female form was just the touch needed to make her outshine the performances of the original Jedi twins.
The stars of the night turned out to be two of the most celebrated albeit smaller role characters in the Star Wars universe, proving once again, size matters not. Just like the on screen portrayal of Boba Fett, Honeytree Evileye’s appearance in The Farce Awakens is short but well received and celebrated by the audience itself. It’s hard to go wrong with this crowd pleaser and the addition of a Sarlac Pit prop that was well used in the performance had the crowd enthralled with this Bounty Hunter’s booty. With the musical addition of MC Chris’s, Fett’s Vette, Evileye had the crowd going wild for this recurring antagonist.
Hands down, Fem Appeal, delivered the most well received performance of the night with her portrayal of the Cloud City ambassador with an act oozing in the swarmy charm that came to be known as the calling card of actor Billy Dee Williams in the late 70’s, early 80’s. With hilarious hints and nods to his work as the Colt 45 spokesperson, Appeal’s consistent facial and body expressions made her routine a huge hit. Taking it all off to Ke$ha’s Blow and utilizing a Colt 45 pounder can as prop that even outshined the light sabers of the evening, Lando lived up to the malt liquor’s slogan, “It works every time.” A finale worthy performance, Fem Appeal definitely set the bar high and literally became a hard act to follow.
Overall the show did not disappoint. An intermission performance from Jabba’s favorite Twilek showing off her skills with a hula hoop, a sexy light saber battle, and the Storm trooper Chorus line were all crowd pleasers. Supporting characters like Chewbacca and C3PO who doubled as stage hands throughout the evening also added to the comedy of the skits that came in between the performances themselves. With a little bit more revealing take on his usual golden, droid exterior, C3PO teased the audience throughout the night who wanted to see this protocol droid take a break from enforcing etiquette and strip down to his nuts and bolts.
While I was sad that I didn’t win the raffle boasting a Han Solo in Carbonite backpack as the prize, I was not disappointed in the show itself. The ladies that accompanied admitted that they were not quite sure what they were in for and raved about how great the troupe was and clearly had a great time. Liberty Rose’s Sexploitation Follies once again delivered an amazing pop culture parody that showed a sexier side of sci-fi and clearly took the advice of Master Yoda: Do. Or do not. There is no try.