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.
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.