LA Nightlife: Burlesque at Monday Night Tease

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The dulcet infectious lyrics of the Wet Spots, “Do You Take it in the Ass,” are Lili VonSchtupp’s cue to start the show. Dressed in a black slip which leaves little to the imagination, Lili takes to the stage, bends to the floor with her ass facing the crowd, and points her finger. The music disappears and Lili faces the audience. She welcomes the crowd, simultaneously sounding off a dozen or so expletives, just, as she says, to get them off her chest. She’s now ready to start the show. This is Monday Night Tease, Los Angeles longest running weekly Burlesque show at the 3 Clubs onSanta Monica and Vine. 3 Clubs is a two roomed joint with a long bar in one room, where a sliding door takes you into the second room. Here you will find plenty of comfy couches in swanky booths, spacious tables, an elevated stage, and generous bar.
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Tonight’s show is a special APLA fundraiser for AIDS, with 16 acts volunteering their services for the cause. The show rotates its cast weekly and presents many of the best acts around today in the burlesque, cabaret and the vaudeville world. Lili’s hilarious dry comedic performance is all double entendre and innuendo. She introduces the first act, Demonika and the Darklings, whose gothic rock and strings provides a good segue way into the burlesque acts to follow. Making a gutsy comedic performance to the stage is Lavendar La Rue. This is the diminutives strawberry blonde’s first ever burlesque performance and you can’t tell. This is comedy tease equipped with water spraying pasties. More seasoned and fuller figured performers are to come. Olivia D’ Helian is a non-stop dizzy twirl of body shaking and movement. It’s not all women who make up the show tonight. Bobby Burlesque performs a hypnotic dance routine that is almost dark magic. Bobby is an international performer and uber producer of burlesque shows, producing some of the best shows in Hollywood.

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Originally from Iowa, Lili made her segue way into burlesque four years ago when she took professional lessons. It wasn’t long before she produced Monday Night Tease with her business partner and fellow performer, Scarlet Letter. Both have worked tirelessly to keep MNT the longest weekly burlesque show in LA, as well as regular appearances at other local events and countrywide shows. By day, Lili was a successful radio talk show producer for the internationally syndicated, Online Tonight with David Lawrence. She takes her name from Madeline Kahn’s character in the brilliantMel Brook’s movie, Blazing Saddles. Burlesque and MNT is now a full-time job for her. But that’s not typical. Most performers have day jobs and perform for the love of it, at night. “We have performers who are lawyers, managers and theatre majors,” says Lili. “My husband is a working actor, so I’m able to do this full-time.”
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Burlesque has its roots in Victorian England with the British Blondes who first appeared in the USA in the 1860’s. Performers would mock established entertainment such as Opera, ballet, and Shakespearean drama. Within a couple of decades the genre defined itself as performance with revealing costumes for women, sexually suggestive dialogue and dance, quick-witted humor, and short showy routines with little or no plot line. By the 1930’s burlesque had evolved into strip tease and its eventual demise in its original form. In the 1990’s, a new generation, nostalgic for the old time performance of elaborate sets, colorful costumes, and raunchy humor, was reborn. Today there are burlesque troupes in numerous cities around the world, where performers travel the globe and attend annual burlesque conventions, like the Vancouver International Burlesque Festival.
gl/2008/11/25
Burlesque has its roots in Victorian England with the British Blondes who first appeared in the USA in the 1860’s. Performers would mock established entertainment such as Opera, ballet, and Shakespearean drama. Within a couple of decades the genre defined itself as performance with revealing costumes for women, sexually suggestive dialogue and dance, quick-witted humor, and short showy routines with little or no plot line. By the 1930’s burlesque had evolved into strip tease and its eventual demise in its original form. In the 1990’s, a new generation, nostalgic for the old time performance of elaborate sets, colorful costumes, and raunchy humor, was reborn. Today there are burlesque troupes in numerous cities around the world, where performers travel the globe and attend annual burlesque conventions, like the Vancouver International Burlesque Festival.
gl/2008/11/25
Many performers design or make their own costumes and most choreograph their own act. Many of the performers had taken classes after seeing a live burlesque show and wanted to have a go at it themselves. “It’s empowering women,” says Lili. Her audience is largely made up of couples, first timers, regulars, and members of The Los Angeles Burlesque & Cabaret Meet up Group, a group started by Lili and Joe P., where members receive reduced price tickets. The burlesque performers are a close-knit bunch who work very hard at their craft, and like a sisterhood, look out for one another. They are part of a greater network of performance artists, vaudeville acts, cabaret, comedy, variety, and live musical acts, which perform across the country and worldwide.
Towards the end of the night, Vixen Violette, who teaches her own Burlesque Boot Camp, wows the crowd as a vixen cowgirl in her act, ‘Wanted Dead or Alive.’ Closing the show was Dizzy Von Damn’s tongue-in-cheek performance that has her rolling over the stage floor. It’s been a long night and one that has been jammed full of hugely talented, incredibly funny, and darn sexy performers. Who knows, you may even want to take some classes.
3 Clubs
1123 Vine (Vine at Santa Monica)
Hollywood, CA 90038 
Doors: 9.30pm. Show at 10.00pm.

Photos from different MNT shows by author Ginger Liu

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