Viewfinder | ‘Kitty Nights’

John Galayda on photographing the Kitty Nights burlesque show at Bar on A in the East Village.


“It’s an ordinary Sunday night at a bar in the East Village, and a group of
regulars begin to trickle in through the door. But instead of sitting at the
bar, these regulars — Creamy Stevens, Minnie Tonka, Anja Keister, La Maia, and Fem Appeal — sit near a dimly lit stage and apply glitter to their busts,
lotion to their legs, and makeup to their faces.”


“I knew it would be dark, but not that dark. When I walked into the makeshift burlesque theater inside Bar on A, I quickly took note of the very few areas a decent exposure could be made.”


“I got there early and waited in the shadows as the performers prepared for the show.”


“The stage was lit with a dim overhead bulb and that ambient light didn’t spill off the stage at all. I reacted with my camera whenever anyone would pass under the stage light.”


“It quickly became a game (as many of these light-challenged assignments tend to become) of exposure, of black and white, of luck.”


“The room quickly filled and the show began. I continued fishing in the dark while the lyrics to a Velvet Underground song kept buzzing in my head:

‘White light, aww white light it lighten up my eyes

White light, don’t you know it fills me up with surprise

White heat, aww white heat tickle me down to my toes

White light, aww white light I tell you now goodness knows.’ ”

John Galayda is a community contributor to The Local East Village. You can view more of his photography at