While the 14th annual New York Burlesque Festival takes place from September 29 to October 2, there’s amazing, lovely, dramatic, funny — and, yes, sexy — dancing to be had around the city just about every day of the year. Our favorite spots for burlesque follow. You’re welcome. By Jessica Allen.
The Hall at MP Brooklyn
470 Driggs Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Blending the beautiful and the surreal, Dumbo Burlesque showcases performers trained in circus arts as well as traditional burlesque. The cast rotates most weeks, but featured guests like Mr. Gorgeous and Lil Miss Lixx know how to tickle the senses. In addition to burlesque dancers, the current Wildcat Cabaret show includes aerialists, jugglers, hula-hoopers and others. You’ll laugh, you’ll ogle, you’ll call for more.
Laurie Beechman Theater
407 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036
The city’s longest-running variety show moves seamlessly from exotic contortion to sword-swallowing and belly dancing, to a striptease that takes place on a trapeze (talk about balance and coordination!) Performers are backed by the live Le Scandal Orchestra, who welcomes everyone to their seats as the curtain goes down, then strategically heightens and amplifies the atmosphere during the various performances. As decadent as it sounds.
106 Norfolk Street
New York, NY 10002
Located on the Lower East Side, and taking its inspiration from the indomitable Bettie Page and other 1950s-era pin-ups, Nurse Bettie is a bar with personality. House special cocktails include the Rump Shaker (apricot jam, rye whiskey, bitters, Italian vermouth, and lemon juice) and the Craig Collins (scotch, honey, club soda, and lemon juice.) The burlesque shows take place twice a week, one hosted by Shelly Watson, the “Singing Siren,” and the other by Calamity Chang, the “Asian Sexation.” Come for the “nakedity and artistry,” stay for the late-night happy hour (1 to 4 a.m.)
The Slipper Room
167 Orchard Street
New York, NY 10002
What began as a neo-burlesque downtown artist collective in 1999 has turned into one of the city’s go-to spots for sensuous evenings. Today performances take place on a custom-built stage, which includes a cat walk and run-the-gamut from magic, to go-go dancing, to witty banter and sometimes, the artful removal of clothes. For a memorable night, book the VIP “party playpen,” and remember that you’re only limited by your imagination.
New York, NY
Nearly as fun to say as it is to watch, Wasabassco roams around various venues in the city, elevating the humble variety show and beautifying burlesque wherever it lands. Bathtub Gin, for example, takes place in a hidden speakeasy in Chelsea, and features luscious ladies strutting, stripping, and, yes, getting into the tub. The House of Deveraux, hosted by Sydni Deveraux — the Golden Glamazon herself — offers “high-octane striptease performances.” Not for the faint-of-heart or those with delicate sensibilities.