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Five Questions With | GiGi La Femme, Soon to Be a Southern Belle

gigi2Courtesy of GiGi La Femme

Since 2008, East Village audiences have been entertained, even seduced, by the monthly burlesque show “Revealed” at UNDER St. Marks Theater. This Wednesday, the show will come to an end so that producer and performer GiGi La Femme can pack her bags for Nashville after three decades in New York City. (“Not only do I love Nashville,” she explained over e-mail, “but I’ve got a super wonderful man and puppy named Milo waiting for me when I get there.”) Here she reflects on how she started in burlesque, what she’ll miss about the Village, and her plans after the curtain falls.


How did you get your start?


It was in February of 2004 when I saw my first burlesque show with my cousin, Scarlet Sinclair. Shortly thereafter, Scarlet began her journey within the blossoming BurlyQ scene and I tagged along for the ride, supporting her at every show I could get my bottom to. Read more…

Pretty As A Pin-Up

DSC_0052Meredith Hoffman Writer Laurie Kamens gets make-up advice.

It felt unnatural. I arched my foot backwards, gracefully pointing my toes, pushed out my chest, and forced a cheesy grin. Posing as a pin-up model was proving harder work than the smiling, curly-headed girls of the 1940’s and 50’s made it look.

“If it feels comfortable, you’re doing it wrong,” Bettina May said as we started mugging for the camera.

A professional pin-up model and burlesque dancer, Ms. May has been teaching her Pin-Up Class for the past five years, giving contemporary women a tutorial in vintage make up and hair, complete with a personalized photo shoot at the end.

DSC_0006Bettina May removes curlers.

Popularized by movie stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Bettie Page, and Rita Hayworth, the classic pin-up look, defined by Ms. May as, “red lips, black eyeliner and a big smile,” is now an iconic image of feminine beauty and sex appeal.

Held at Beauty Bar on 14th Street, the class I attended was intimate, six women including myself. A perfect setting, the converted beauty parlor is decorated with swiveling chairs and display cases holding dusty hairbrushes and expired beauty products. As we settled into the vinyl salon chairs, Buddy Holly playing softly in the background, Ms. May asked why we had signed up for the class and what we hoped to take away from it.

There was Kim, 47, a mother of two, who became interested in pin-up culture through themed events she helped organize. Her enthusiasm reached so far that she brought along a friend, Marcela, 36. Also recommended by a friend was Margaret, 27. Swing dancing since high school, she was looking for a vintage hair and make up style to match her dance moves.

Hailing from Texas, Lorraine, 30, was a one-time hairstylist who was looking to fill a gap in her professional knowledge, as well as make a personal connection; “I’ve recently been looking at pictures of my grandmother and I kind of resemble her,” she said. “I remembered seeing some of her outfits in my dad’s closet. I just want to start presenting myself in a glamorous way.”

Then there was Amy who, though 37, looked as if she was in her early 20’s with a pixie haircut and a bubbly personality to match. After a long-standing fascination with vintage glamour, she was excited to resemble the pin-up girls she had plastered on the walls of her apartment. Read more…

A Touch Of Burlesque On Avenue A

burlesque08John Galayda Anja Keister performs during the Kitty Nights burlesque show at Bar on A. The show, which has been running at the bar since 2006, is one of the few remaining burlesque acts in the East Village.

While for most people Sunday is a day of relaxation, filled with leisurely strolls or The Times crossword puzzle, at Bar on A, Sundays are anything but tame. The wild felines of Kitty Nights, the bar’s weekly burlesque show, close out each weekend with salaciously provocative entertainment.

Founded in June 2006 by producer and performer Fem Appeal, Kitty Nights is now one of the few remaining burlesque shows in the East Village.

Yet, in addition to hosting the last of the scantily clad Mohicans, at its heart Kitty Nights is a tribute to the strength of small neighborhoods that can often get lost amidst constant change and development.
Read more…