What’s Beneath the Clothes: Burlesque Superstar Angie Pontani Kicks Off The Naked Truth March 17th

The world of burlesque is expanding as society perceives it in the proper light… as an ancient art form. Dita Von Teese is just short of a household name and, as we reported, Ivan Kane is about to open up Royal Jelly at the newish Revel in Atlantic City. Angie Pontani is a superstar in this wild world. She made a believer out of me one night and then another at Corio on West Broadway. It was Murray Hill (about to tour with Dita) MC-ing, Melody Sweets (now a star with her own billboard) celebrating her show Absinthe at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, and a bevy of beauties that changed my perception of the game. Calamity Chang sells out every Friday at Hotel Chantelle after her sexy time performance with DeeDee Luxe and Michael Fassbender in Shame. Duane Park delivers the goods every Friday and Saturday nights. Burlesque is back and Angie Pontani is offering us The Naked Truth.

Angie, you are going to be in a show March 17th with my friend Jo Weldon. Tell me all about it:
It’s called The Naked Truth, and it will live up to its name! It’s a new burlesque game show from the hilarious and slightly-twisted mind of performer and producer, Jonny Porkpie. He has had another version of the show on the road for the past year – something like 30 different cities in five countries on three continents – and now it’s coming to NYC at the Triad on West 72nd Street! In the show, I (and all the other performers) are going to expose more than we’ve ever exposed before – deep secrets, thoughts, dreams, and fantasies! You’ll get to see what’s beneath the clothes. Jonny’s actually just sent me a long list of very intimate questions, which I’ll answer once I pour myself a glass of wine and run the bubble bath, then I’ll return them to him to use in the show. After I perform, the audience has to guess which answers are mine to win all sorts of great prizes. So in essence, the show not only includes amazing performances, but a thrilling game show element that will reveal the casts’ deep secrets and potentially get you fabulous prizes!
The Naked Truth…when and how did you decide that getting nearly naked for a living was the way to go? Tell me about your uncontrollable burlesque urges.
Ha! Well, getting "nearly naked" is just a natural byproduct of what I do. I grew up watching MGM Technicolor musicals and listening to Sinatra and Elvis. That old- school style of entertainment is what inspired me to go into show business. For me, it’s about the music, the costumes, the theatricality of what you can do in your five to seven minutes on stage. Sure, burlesque is striptease and requires "getting nearly naked," but for me, the journey of the tease is what people remember. It’s about giving my audience a thrill by getting dressed up as a savage jungle girl and wildly banging my bongo drum, or emerging encrusted in crystals from my 6-foot oyster shell, or maybe even taking a dip in my glass bathtub. You know…just another day at the office. 
I’ve heard some burlesque dancers refer to themselves as ‘strippers,’ while others run from that term. Is art the delineating factor?  
I’m a show pony; I live to be onstage. I don’t refer to myself as a stripper and I don’t refer to myself as an artist. I’m an entertainer –  that’s what I do. I’ve got an old-school brain in regards to burlesque, nightlife, and entertainment in general. I think of the ’40s and ’50s supper club culture;  that’s what I relate to in my performances and the types of shows and venues I tend to perform in. I’ve been to strip clubs and have had great times at them, but the experiences I’ve had at places like Scores, The Pussy Cat Lounge, Billy’s Topless, etc…they are very different experiences from what someone will have at one of my shows. In regards to "art:" sure, showbiz is an art, but I don’t really get down with intellectualizing my performances. It’s not my style. I just want to entertain you when I’m in the spotlight. Fred Astaire has a quote that he said when talking about how people tried to find deeper meaning in his
hop-shuffle-step, and it goes like this, "I am not sending messages with my feet. All I ever wanted to do was not come up empty. I did it for the dough and the old applause."   
You have found love in the biz…tell me about that. Is love common? Are burlesque relationships more difficult, or is it a great way to meet the man or woman of your dreams?
I have often thought that burlesque is the kiss of death to a relationship, and I never, ever wanted to date someone in the business – but I have been proven wrong. My man (trumpet-playing crooner Brian Newman), is fabulous. We have so much in common in regard to what we love about show business, music, and style that it’s pretty amazing. We can paint the town one night, dressed to the nines, and stay home the next, making lasagna and watching Jimmy Stewart westerns all night, it’s heaven! We are in the same world in a sense, but they are different enough so as they don’t collide. We’ve recently started doing more shows together, with a production we are calling "Burlesque-A-Pades, After Dark," where Brian’s band plays live music for the whole show. I love it; I feel like Lucy and Ricky. Plus, my performances are always a little more fiery when dancing live to my baby’s tunes. It’s also great because we can travel together a bit more, share fabulous
adventures, and create a great stage show! I think love and relationships can be difficult in any genre – you’ve just got to find the right person.
Angie Pontani
The current state of the art: burlesque seems to be booming. Where can/will it go?
I think, as each year passes, burlesque is just proving itself to be a sustainable form of entertainment, a genre in and of itself that I don’t think is going anywhere. Every year, it seems to get more and more popular and branch out into various styles. You’ve got classic burlesque supper club shows, downtown edgy dive bar shows, theatrical shows, nightclub shows, touring shows – heck, even game show shows, like the fabulous The Naked Truth. I think burlesque has grown into an umbrella of entertainment off of which different styles have emerged and it’s everywhere. Kind of like live music, there are a ton of different shows for each palette everywhere! I think it will continue to grow; it’s certainly not a trend or passing fancy.
I’ve caught your act and have been a fan since day one. How do you develop ideas and what is the process of perfecting the act?
First off, thank you, that means a lot coming from you! Ideas for numbers hit me over the head like a bedazzled hammer; all it takes to set me off is a great song or a photo of a starlet in an amazing gown or something like that, and then I am typically useless for a month or so while I create the act. The process can take one month to three or so, depending on the act. First, I have to get the costume made, as well as any props that I might require – only then can you really put the act together. I am a huge rehearser; when I am working a new act, I will practice the number at least a hundred times. I practice in every room in my house, in the dark, in my yard, in front of a mirror, away from the mirror, etc…It’s not that the choreography is so intense or anything like that, but in burlesque you have so many working components that you have to deal with, like 5-inch heels, binding corsets, snaps, zippers, headdresses etc. I practice and get comfortable with the costume and how it comes off, so that when I’m on stage I’m not looking down to find a clasp or tripping on my gown’s train or worried about anything but  driving the audience wild!
THE NAKED TRUTH plays at the Triad Theater (158 West 72nd Street) on the third Saturday of each month with March’s performance on Saturday, 3/17 at 10pm, April’s on Saturday, 4/21 at 10pm and May’s on Saturday, 5/19 at 10pm. Tickets are $35 for general admission and $45 for premium seating and can be purchased online at www.NakedTruthGameShow.com. There is also a two-drink minimum.

Taylor Mead at Last Night’s Bingo, Addressing the Adam Hock-Prince Pierre Casiraghi Brawl

The Academy Awards were delicious. I enjoyed the show, the choice of movies, the actors featured, and most of Billy Crystal’s schtick. I especially enjoyed watching it at home with delicious popcorn and other treats and my delicious Amanda. Foregoing the bull-chit banter and bad hors d’oeuvres at some Oscar party is the way to go. Although I was aware of The Artist for eons before it came out and wanted to go day 1… life got in the way and so I vowed to go last night and nothing was going to stop me.

Monday is of course BINGO night at Bowery Poetry Club. If you want to whack me or serve me with papers or get my autograph, you can find me there. I sit up front and personal so I can catch every delicious word from co-hosts Murray Hill and Linda Simpson. This Monday night happening needs no plug from me as it sells out virtually every night and has for years. I arrive very early to wind down from my day jobs and  to catch 87-year-old Taylor Mead. Taylor is best known as an Andy Warhol luminary, but he is so much more. It wasn’t Andy that made Taylor fabulous…he was fabulous so Andy wanted to have him around. Google him…find out more…or come around 6pm on any Monday to catch him reading from his life’s work.
One of the highlights of Taylor’s schtick is the reminiscing about his life less ordinary. Last night, he told of a play he was in in Boston back in the ’70s. He found himself late-night in Chinatown at a table with actor John Cazale (Fredo in The Godfather, Deer Hunter, Dog Day Afternoon) and Meryl Streep. Meryl was dating Mr. Cazale, who died young, of cancer. She was unknown and quiet then and Taylor thought she was sort of dull, "like a statue." He lamented not quite breaking it to the big time because "I never sold out… Elizabeth Taylor, Meryl Streep all sold out. I never sold out…I tried to… I spent three months with her, everyday." It continues like this for around 45 minutes as the BINGO crowd comes in and are blown away by this frail man and his sharp mind. A satchel containing loose notes sits beside him while a small boombox plays Mingus, to underscore his dirty poems. He randomly pulls art and poetry and notes from the satchel, reads them, and goes off on delicious tangents. He says that Harvard is taking his papers this summer. They currently occupy garbage bags in his cramped apartment. He says he is hesitating, as a friend has told him Harvard will just bury the work. Talk raced from the 30th anniversary of the Faukland Islands war between Argentina and Great Britain and chance sexual encounters of days of yore. Taylor has been particularly brilliant recently as the full room seems to have inspired him. Let me know if you’re coming and I’ll save you a seat.
Murray Hill will be around for a bit but will soon scoot off to tour with Dita Von Teese on the West Coast. BINGO on Mondays at Bowery Poetry Club is the best game in town. After BINGO, I scooted off to see The Artist and, of course, was blown away. The big movies at this years Oscars were not box office bonanzas. The Artist has taken in under $40 million, The Descendents with Clooney star power under $80 million, and films like Iron Lady and The Tree of Life appealing to smaller audiences than the big films of years ago, like Titanic, Avatar, Star Wars and all that romantic comedy stuff that make bank. For instance, Bridesmaids is up around $288 million. Hollywood gold went to more artistic fare, less commercial offerings. The art of making big money on your art is a very Warholian concept.  I’m going to buy Taylor a drink next Monday and discuss.
I have been asked to write something clever about the brawl between clubber Adam Hock and Prince Pierre Casiraghi of Monaco at The Double Seven last week. I started my research by calling The Double Seven’s Mark Baker to get the inside scoop. Baker was speechless – not a common occurrence for him. He referred me to Jeffrey Jah who reportedly was there when the shit hit the fan-tastic Prince and his entourage or vice versa, depending on whose PR has the ear of what publication. I have been told there was blood but not a lot of real guts displayed by anyone involved. A big guy hit a famous, fabulous, and rich guy and others meekly or weakly got involved. My old pal Sal Strazzullo is the attorney that will try to help Adam Hock stay out of jail and not have to hock everything he owns to settle a possible lawsuit. Sal said in the Daily News that the Prince and his pals "think New York is their honeycomb. They think they can come here and do whatever they want".
I’ve never been a fan of Adam Hock but don’t have anything against him either, but the spin Strazullo puts on it makes Adam seem like a hero in the eyes of the hoi polloi. He is our champion. It was almost his sacred duty punching out those rich famous young people making all that noise. Sal continued: "They wanted some recognition [from the women] and it happened because of that. My client acted in self -defense, it was an unprovoked attack. I don’t know why Mr Casiraghi got jealous about my client – he is from a humble background." He added: "My client is not Bruce Lee… These four guys are trust-fund babies who think the world is owed to them. They are like spoiled brats."
I decided not to look for the truth. My time would be better served by ignoring this raging bull-chit and seeing another movie nominated for the Oscars, like Iron Lady. I think Margaret and probably Meryl could kick all their asses. If I got it right, according to the attorney, it seems that Adam Hock did what we all secretly yearn to do: what needed to be done and about time at that. He did it for us all. Those royals and their buddies and their beautiful women better behave…or else. There might be some truth in that, but on the other hand Adam might have actually behaved badly. I won’t seek the truth because I suspect that old Oscar buddy Jack Nicholson got it right… I can’t handle the truth. Now that’s entertainment.

Super Linda More Than Super, Three-Day Pop-Up This Weekend at Chrystie 141

Bingo was riotous as usual. Murray Hill and I talked about his May tour with Dita Von Teese. After all that, we kissed our crew goodnight and walked the cool night to Chinatown. The Wo in Wo Hop still stands for wonderful. Encouraged by hearty soups and dumplings, we braved the cold night to visit Matt Abramcyk and Serge Becker’s newish hot spot Super Linda. My dear friend Travis Bass was blowing up my phone, begging me to come. We passed The Odeon and I told Amanda that 20-something years ago it was the hottest place in New York. Today it is just perfectly amazing. We entered Super Linda and immediately knew it was just super. There, a small, sharp set were lounging casually in booths and tables. Vance Bookings held court, surrounded by all his unusually beautiful suspects. I introduced Amanda to Cordell Lochin, and he and I exchanged the secret handshake and a hearty hug. The deep booth had Serge Becker and his crew of hip jet-setters talking the talk. Serge got  up and gave me the tour. He explained how the new lights for the dining room had not arrived as of yet and that there were still some finishing touches to the design coming in the next two weeks or so. I loved it. The downstairs had the right amount of hiding spots and comfy booths and there was some great detailing to the paneled wood walls. It’s opening soon. We talked a bit more about the biz and small wonders and then I visited the always excitable Travis Bass at the bar.

He introduced me to Richie Cheung, the owner of that 141 Chrystie space. I exclaimed "OMG (I say that sometimes), you must hate me." I reminded him that I had written a scathing review of his place when it opened. He said, "Oh, you’re Steve Lewis! No hard feelings. You were just doing your job and we’ve made many changes for the better." I loved Richie. I would have popped me in the nose . I felt so strongly about it I almost popped me in the nose. Instead I promised to visit the new and improved space Friday. Travis ,as his norm, never shut up about this and that and what he was doing at 141. He gushed, "I am doing a three-day pop-up at 141 Chrystie Street from Thursday through Saturday next week. It will be a raging dance club party theme. Think Ibiza or rave party with the Red Egg crew and crowd. I am going to do giant balloons and projections and laser beams."

I’m always a sucker for giant balloons and laser beams, so I agreed to go Friday. Anyway, Travis wasn’t taking no for an answer. I couldn’t come Thursday, I explained, as I am DJing at Hotel Chantelle. I expected him to ask me to put on a long song …say "White Lines" and pop over for a hot minute to see his pop-up. He continued (he always continues), "Gonna bring back the old New York high-energy dance club! No more lounging bullshit! NYC is all about fun and we are bringing that back."

He told me he was doing dinner parties downstairs at Super Linda and I almost asked him if that wasn’t sort of "lounging bullshit," but I needed to get home before sun up to write this piece. New York needs Travis’ energy. We are so often ruled by the blasè. He may be a lot of things but he certainly isn’t blasè. We kissed everyone goodbye and headed to Brooklyn to our humble home and puppy and cat. I loved Super Linda; it’s intelligent and adult-offering in a nightlife world increasingly dominated by the unfabulous…the blasè.

Mark Kamins’ Greatest Legacy & My Spot On The ‘Vanity Fair’ Downtown 100 List

The celebration of Mark Kamins’ life and times culminates at Santos Party House tonight. Konk will perform for the first time since 1986. Lady Miss Kier of Dee-Lite fame, as well. Coati Mundi, Crystal Ark, and a ton of other performers will crowd both floors of the club that most resembles the old- school type clubs where most of these folks did their thing …in days of yore. A zillion DJs including Jellybean Benitez and Justin Strauss and Mike Pickering and Stretch Armstrong and Ivan Ivan and Jazzy Nice and and and…. will make musical statements about the man we and thousands of others loved. I will MC along with Jim Fouratt, Chi Chi Valenti, Michael Holman, and and and. Proceeds of the event will go to the Mark Kamins Scholarship Award in Electronic Music. Walter Durkacz is the puppeteer pulling all the strings that make this sort of thing happen. Not an easy gig.

This journey will end for all of us maybe tomorrow, maybe in 40 or 50 years. Many have preceded. Some people will say Mark’s legacy can be defined by a great record or his immense body of work. I think Mark Kamins’ legacy is the love that he instilled in the hearts of all the people who will gather tonight to remember and celebrate a life well-lived. 
For 20 years, Vanity Fair’s George Wayne has compiled his Downtown 100 List for his annual party of the Most Fabulous+Inspired+Relevant People Who Today Define Downtown. The list has often been controversial, as many who think of themselves in those terms have been snubbed, and many newbies added have gained instantaneous validation and recognition.

The order of the list seems to be irrelevant save for the first name who is always someone delicious. This year that name is Kate Upton. The list includes Solange Knowles and Vito Schnabel and Marc Jacobs and Dita Von Teese and Alan Cumming and Susanne Bartsch and, like, 94 more. I am honored to be listed as well. George is an old and extremely vibrant friend. I will join him on The DL Rooftop, 95 Delancey, tomorrow night at 10pm.

Follow me on Twitter for my latest rants, observations, and controversies. 

Dita Von Teese Models 3D-Printed Gown, Because This Is The Future

Everyone, welcome to The Future. We finally did it! We’re in The Future. Sure, all of things we expected to come true (jet packs, food in pill form, teleportation, the federal recognition of gay marriages) haven’t really happened yet, but we are still definitely in The Future because you can literally print out clothes. From your computer. To your printer. Sure, you need a 3D printer. They never said The Future wouldn’t be expensive. Oh, and I guess you have to put it together, like one of those 3D puzzles from the ’90s. Remember those? I thought that was The Future but this is definitely The Future! 

[via Jezebel]

Follow Tyler Coates on Twitter.

Dita Von Teese Is Too Busy to See ‘Burlesque’

Dita Von Teese has been called many things over the course of her unlikely ascension to the mainstream, but she’s rarely accused of being dull. That’s partly why we love following the actress, author, and performer on Twitter. In the last month alone, she’s revealed her love for Boys Noize, her favorite new restaurant in London, her dinner companion in the English capital, and even posted a link where one can buy her 1939 Chrysler New Yorker on eBay. Next week, Von Teese, who’s been busy filming scenes for her January 13 debut on CSI: Los Angeles, will hold court at West Hollywood’s Roxy for a three-night mini-residency. We thought it was time to get the goods on what fans can expect at the Dec 13-15th engagement, not to mention her take on Cher’s Burlesque. Check it out after the jump.

What can L.A. fans expect to see at the Roxy? Any special guests to announce? I’ve got two new acts to showcase. I will be debuting a beautiful new haute couture costume that Mr. Pearl made for me in Paris, which was two years in the making, with all the hand-beading and Swarovski crystals! It’s a real showstopper. I’m also debuting the newly re-invented “Rhinestone Cowgirl” show, which is probably one of my favorites, complete with big-band swanky striptease versions of classic ‘50s country songs by Hank Williams and Patsy Cline, and I ride a luxurious mechanical bull with six-foot long Swarovski covered steer horns! For my third act, I haven’t decided which one to do, but possibly “Le Bain Noir,” in which I sing a Mae West song called “Guy Who Takes His Time.” I’m also really excited to showcase a very diverse and fabulous lineup of fellow burlesque performers who are legendary in the neo-burlesque scene. We have Dirty Martini, Duke Lafayette, Mr. Murray Hill from New York, and Perle Noire from New Orleans, who performs an incredible Josephine Baker tribute.

What’s it like working on CSI? It’s great because it’s a big episode, and I play my very good friend Eric Szmanda’s love interest. Originally, I was just going to make a small cameo of some kind, but now I play three different characters! It’s a great challenge for me, much different than creating and performing burlesque shows. It’s fun to step outside of what I know and try something completely different. Most of the cast and crew have seen my burlesque show, and they’re really a great team, and are all very encouraging. I couldn’t ask for a better television debut, especially on such a great show, and there’s a moment where viewers get to see a glimpse of my actual burlesque show.

You have worked with Cointreau as a brand ambassador since 2007. What’s the best holiday cocktail one can make with Cointreau? I love this quintessentially French brand. My favorite Cointreau cocktail is my Cointreauteese, which is infused with luscious violet. Lately, I’ve been adding a splash of champagne to it to make it a “Cointreau-royale-teese,” which makes it even more special for the holidays. I also love the classic Sidecar, it’s so warming for wintertime.

Have you seen Burlesque yet? If not, do you plan to see it and what are your thoughts in general on the movie and it bringing burlesque to mainstream America via the multiplex? I have not seen it because I’ve been working on CSI and preparing for my burlesque shows in L.A., but I am happy that the word “burlesque” is becoming more familiar to the public, and my hope is that more people will want to know more about what a real live burlesque show is, and perhaps a bit about the real history of the burlesque show. The Golden Age of Burlesque in mid-century America is where the inspiration is for all these glamorous things we love about burlesque, like the feather fans, ruby red lips, and rhinestones. The sophisticated striptease was the main element of mid-century burlesque, and is popular thanks to megastars like Gypsy Rose Lee and Lili St. Cyr. Without these striptease-stars who starred in burlesque reviews in the 1930s and 40s, there would be no neo-burlesque movement for anyone.

What are your thoughts on the current state of the Los Angeles burlesque scene? Do you have time to go check out shows? I think that you have two sorts of burlesque shows going on right now. You have those of us that love the real history of burlesque, and want to keep the spirit of it alive by evolving it into modern times, while staying true to the art form. Then there is also a new style emerging, which is perhaps a more commercialized side, with the elements of classic striptease removed, and so there is a brand new kind of “burlesque-cabaret” being formed, and even a kind of burlesque fashion style being created. When it comes down to it, I’m happy that other people are discovering burlesque in all forms, and especially that other women are becoming interested in this playful, fun, empowering form of sensuality. As for me, I perform the classic-style striptease burlesque because I have a great admiration for the real women of burlesque’s past, and I think that the real trick is to accomplish what Josephine Baker did in the 1920’s and Gypsy Rose Lee managed to do in the 1930s, to make things that have always been considered taboo – striptease, sensuality, and nudity – to make these things chic and sophisticated.

Dita Von Teese Creams for Legendary Paris Tea Room

Just the other night I spent a sultry evening tasting Dita Von Tesse’s delectable cream, bowing my head down and lapping up her naughty, silky goodness, spread out wide before me. She was moist and delicious and drove me into rapture. She was rare and exciting and reassuringly expensive, and I wanted to share her with no one. Alas, this was not to be.

I am of course talking about her new line of pastries unveiled just this week for the legendary tea room and pastry house Angelina, long accused of being a tourist trap.

Sébastien Bauer, a third generation Alsatian pastry chef who worked for six years with the “Picasso of Pastry,” Pierre Hermé as head of creation, and hired by the Maison Angelina to reinvent their classic menu, recently devised two diabolically good creations for the sultry star. The “pastry cocktail,” and the macaroon, both inspired by the Cointreau Teese, a cocktail created for the showgirl by the eminent cognac house, look likely to rock the taste buds.

The Ange cocktail, as one is called, is served in a glass with a chocolate base topped with a melty violet flavored marscapone cream, caramelized orange slices, and a mini rum baba and ginger and orange flavored jelly cubes. The macaroon mirrors the same notes and ingredients, with a Cointreau and crystallized violet perfumed biscuit and milk chocolate and orange flavored ganache filling. Both may be eaten in the turn of the century Belle Epoque splendour, or ferreted away to be enjoyed in the strict privacy of your own abode.



Where Celebs Go Out: Wes Anderson, Emmy Rossum, Charlotte Ronson, & More

At Lucky magazine’s Lucky Shops:

● KATRINA BOWDEN – “I love Café Mogador in the East Village. It’s Moroccan, and they have these great fish and chicken kebabs and really cool dishes and olives and bread. It’s really good. And they have this fish soup that’s amazing, on special sometimes.”

● ANA ORTIZ – “I’m a very local person right now because I don’t have a lot of time away. So there’s this really groovy little place across the street from me called the Speak Low bar and it’s in Dumbo in Brooklyn, and it’s just underneath Rice. It’s a really funky, hip little bar. And they have the most delicious cocktails. As soon as I was able to drink after giving birth, I went down there. They have the best martini I ever had!”

At The Fantastic Mr. Fox press day:

● WES ANDERSON – “There’s a place in Los Angeles called Nishimura that’s a sushi place. That’s a great place. I would recommend that one.”

At launch party for Yoga Wii by Dreamcatcher Interactive Inc.:

● ANJA RUBIK – “Right now — it changes, of course — right now, I’m addicted to Matsuri. It’s a Japanese restaurant in the Maritime Hotel. I just love the food there. It’s incredible and the atmosphere they create there is so beautiful. I love it there. I love the Cipriani’s uptown. I love it. The food is so great. And it also has an incredible atmosphere. Da Silvano is great. Bar Pitti is amazing. It has Italian food, which is fantastic. I love Gobo. It’s all this organic food, vegetarian. It’s on Sixth Avenue near Eighth Street or Seventh Street.”

At Fashion Group International’s Night of Stars:

● SIMON DOONAN – “I love Il Cantinori. It’s around the corner from my house. The risotto primavera is killer!”

● EMMY ROSSUM – “I really like David Burke Townhouse. I love that lollypop tree that comes out at the end. There’s like a cheesecake lollypop tree. It looks like a lollypop, but it’s a ball of cheesecake on the end of stick and it’s in this holder that makes it look like a tree. I really like eating sushi at Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, at like 4am.”

● TOMMY HILFIGER – “Rebecca’s in Greenwich, Connecticut. Incredibly delicious. It’s simple, but it’s really, really high-quality food and always well done — consistent. It’s prepared very well.”

● MARK RONSON – “My favorite restaurant in New York is, probably, Gino’s uptown on 60th and Lex. The angel hair with the secret sauce. They call it that. ‘Cause when you’re a kid, and anyone tells you something’s secret, of course, you like think it’s amazing. In the whole word, I don’t know. I wish — I’m really good at answering these questions, but not on the spot.”

● DITA VON TEESE – “I love going to London to eat. I love China Tang at the Dorchester because I love the Art Deco Chinese interior. I love the Wolseley in London. And I’m not familiar with New York restaurants. It seems like they’re ever changing, so …”

At Purgatorio pop-up club:

● JOSH LUCAS – “Oh, the old school — Raoul’s is one of my all-time favorites. And there’s a place right down in my neighborhood, called Broadway East, which is a really interesting new kind of organic, sexy restaurant I like a lot. Also, down by my place, Les Enfants Terribles, you know that place? A good, little fun one. Those are my three that come to mind immediately.”

● SIMON HAMMERSTEIN – “That’s a hard question. I kind of like the 18th floor of the Standard — the bar on the 18th floor. I think he’s done a really good job with that.”

● CHRISTIAN SIRIANO – “In New York, I love the Cooper Square Hotel. We have dinner there a lot, hang out there — really, really fun. But, like hang out, hang out spots — where do we go? Oh, Bagatelle, very fabulous. I’m pretty low key, so I feel like — my couch, that’s where we go to hang out and have a party.”

At Motorola’s party for Droid phone with Verizon service:

● PATRICK HEUSINGER – “I just went to Delicatessen for the first time. I really enjoyed that. We watch Sunday and Monday football at Brother Jimmy’s on the Upper West Side. Yeah, it’s great. We’ve been going there since I was in college because I went to college here in New York, too. And then, I go to the bar, Niagara, on the Lower East Side a lot. That’s one of my haunts. I probably go there once a week. One of my best friends works there, so — it’s on 7th and Avenue A.

● JUDAH FRIEDLANDER – “I don’t drink or anything. I’m a role model for children. But I do eat. The place I really crave is called Sarajevo. It’s in Astoria — Bosnian owners. It’s basically Yugoslavian food. Awesome. That’s the place I crave more than any place. Cevapcici is the main thing. It’s kind of like ground beef and lamb on skewers, and you serve it in this fresh, homemade bread. And there’s this spread called Kajmak. It’s kind of like a sour-cream spread, except a million times better. And then you put ajvar on it, also, which is a like a tomato, red pepper, eggplant spread. And then you put raw onions on it, and you’re in heaven, baby! And you got power! And you’re ready to kick ass! It’s good stuff. The other thing they have is stuffed cabbage with tomato sauce, which they call sarma. It’s in Astoria. It’s on 34th Avenue and 38th Street. It’s so good. That’s my favorite food. I like all the ethnic, little take-out type places. Those are my favorite places.”

At launch of fashion game Style Savvy for the Nintendo DS and DSi:

● CHARLOTTE RONSON – “I love Bar Pitti on 6th Avenue. It’s nice and easy. You can sit outside when the weather is nice. You always run into someone you know. For movies, the Anjelika is nice. It’s clean. I’m drawn to movies that play there. In London, I love Holland Park, Kensington High Street — great area with lots of good shops and walking distance from my parents’ home. La Famiglia is a great restaurant.”

At launch party for Scupltz shapewear and legwear:

● ROBERT VERDI –Le Singe Vert on 7th Avenue. It means the Green Monkey. I was born in ’68, the year of the monkey. I love it. Novita, on 22nd Street, off of Park Avenue. It feels very insider; the food is fabulous. There’s a scene, but it’s not sceney. Da Silvano, because I feel like a big schmaltz when I go there ’cause I’m treated better than I really am. He’s really sweet. I’m very good friends with his wife, Marisa, who treats me like family. Since I grew up in a restaurant family, it’s a feeling I like to have when I go out to eat.

Dita Von Teese and Murray Hill Tear Up Avalon

Dita Von Teese likes to take baths. Last night at Avalon, for her first appearance in L.A. in two years, she took two baths in just an hour and a half, easily more than I take in a few weeks. (I do bathe, just the less glamorous way — standing up in a shower). Though I’d seen the host, Murray Hill, more times than I can count, it was my first time seeing Dita perform.

She did three sets — two of which she performs at the Crazy Horse in Paris: one set to her own remake of a Mae West tune, “A Guy What Takes His Time” that ended with her in a black bathtub giving herself a very luxurious bath; a second one put a twist on her classic martini glass act (it’s been altered to signify a Cointreau cocktail — they were the night’s sponsor). And her final act was brand new. It was dubbed “The Opium Den” and was set partially to the Cure’s “Lullaby,” and it featured an elaborate red and orange glowing “Oriental” set.

Dita’s burlesque, and to a large extent, the first half of the show’s acts, including Ava Garter (her bff from high school), a smashing redhead, Mayte, and Gregg Romeo, were historically correct burlesque (right up to Mayte’s belly dancing, sword-balancing act). Though they are performers during the “new burlesque” movement — which for all intents and purposes really started at the end of the 90s with Jo Boobs and Blue Angel in NYC, and here with Michelle Carr and Velvet Hammer — they are really old-school burlesque.

If you watch an old burlesque video of Tempest Storm or Bettie Page, you will be surprised by how little happens, and for how long. Minutes go by and barely an item of clothing is removed; the dancer just stands and shimmies with a suggestive smile, moving elegantly around the stage before removing an item of clothing. In this way, Dita’s act is quite similar.

While New York and neo-burlesque is almost more like theater — with mini-stories told in less five minutes — I once saw Dirty Martini get ready for a date, set the dinner table, get stood up, have a breakdown, and commit suicide while she got totally naked. Dita’s old school burlesque is an exercise in patience.


In the 1950s, a glimpse of thigh — let alone a flash of tummy — was truly titillating, and so teasing out the full reveal was really meaningful. Today, however, we know exactly what naked ladies look like, so watching Dita slither around on the stage artfully picking off clothing is less exciting than it should be. It was less like watching a performance than watching a modeling shoot in progress: on the big screens flanking the stage, you could see her lips quivering, her eyebrows arching just so. The faint movement of her mouth, created a feeling. She was like a sponge, soaking in adulation while looking incredibly beautiful.

There was also surprisingly less tease than I expected. Dita didn’t have layers upon layers of clothing to peel off; usually she went through one phase of deliciously glittery, alluring costuming, before we got the titty shot. However, she has a rockin’ body that I would eat puppies to have myself, so I am perfectly happy to ogle her all night long.

As someone who chronicled the New York burlesque scene for the Village Voice, it was interesting to see the difference between the two coasts — and I was curious to see how our favorite uncle, Murray Hill, would play to an L.A. crowd that has no context for Murray. Who, they must have been wondering, is this androgynous Benny Hill-like man wearing a tuxedo worthy of Vegas with a high squeaky voice?

Sweet-cheeked Murray seems to have undergone a bit of a transformation in the last few years. He’s saltier for one thing; his old partner at club Casanova (a long ago drag king night that’s ancient history), Mo Fischer, who used to do drag as Mo B. Dick, noted “Murray’s cursing a lot more.” Just then he uttered, “Oh, shit!”

And he’s a bit more aggressive, going after the laughs, calling out Carmen Electra (who may or may not have been in the house) and gave out his numbers (if you were paying attention, they were all real), and the audience members a hard time. “This is my L.A. debut and you’re fucking Twittering!” he chided one fool who was busy texting down in front.

Most importantly, though, Murray was able to rile up the crowd before the performers came on, stretching their names like taffy. “Put your hands together for the International Queen of Burlesque,” he said, “Dita Vooooooooooooooon Teeeeeeeeeeeeeese!” It was big. It was showbiz.

That was the other thing: burlesque — or at least Dita’s burlesque — is big here. Big space: held at Avalon, which has a capacity to hold a few thousand people, and was sold out. There were multitudes of celebrities in the audience: we spied Margaret Cho and Jorja Fox, (of CSI: Las Vegas), as well as Jenny Lewis (or at least her exact replica). The size of L.A.’s geography lends itself to making burlesque seem more than a quick and dirty striptease in a tiny hovel of a club in the Lower East Side. Still the acts during the second half of the show managed to invoke the edgier East Side of both coasts, (here it would be the Silverlake contingent).

Raja, the transsexual contestant from America’s Next Top Model, did a classic “reverse strip,” which is where you start out naked and get dressed. It takes on a new, mournful meaning when the performer in question is a man who should be a woman, putting on women’s attire and emerging as her true self. A moving portrait.

Raja was followed by pint-size package Selene Luna, an L.A. favorite. She is a little person, and stands all of three feet ten inches tall; she arrived on stage in a makeshift motorcycle, smoking and pouting, and very easily stole the show. I looked back up at the top rows in the V.I.P. section and could see all the way from the front of the stage that Carr and her friends were on their feet with their fists in the air cheering on their friend, victorious.

The last act before Dita’s “Opium Den” finale, Kerry Wee, performed almost entirely in the dark. We soon learned why: her act was orgasmic moans and wails set to a crescendo of tap dancing. It was the sort of thing that could be called performance art and it could have been performed in a very different context. As she reached her climax, tapping furiously and moaning ecstatically, the crowd cheered her on.

When she was finished, we all exhaled. I needed a cigarette. To quote Murray, “Oh, shit!”

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