THE SHOW MUST GO ON
US BURLESQUE LIVE GAME SHOW GRAB MY JUNK LAUNCHED INTO MELBOURNE EARLIER THIS YEAR, AND RETURNS TO RED BENNIES THIS FRIDAY. PAUL ANDREW TALKS TO CASSANDRA ATKINS, WHO HELPED BRING THE SHOW TO OZ.
Grab My Junk may well be a ‘nonsense’, however it has a certain ring to it. Exactly what type of ring depends on your imagination. If you have a penchant for inappropriate questions, inappropriate behaviour in general, then you and the GMJ crew will get along just fine, you might even get to touch or fondle the ‘junk’.
Burlesque performer Cassandra Atkins mimics an MC sideshow tenor and explains the protocols behind the most unlikely moniker and how this most inappropriate mix of burlesque and game show will be teased out on the day.
“Host Jonny Porkpie introduces the Burlesque guest performers to an audience full of potential contestants in the best possible way: by bringing them to the stage to present titillating burlesque numbers. Watch carefully as these sex kittens and hunky tomcats take off their clothes -- watch even more carefully than usual, something in the striptease will help you guess the answers to the most intimate questions about the private lives of these performers. Answer these inappropriate questions appropriately - and you win.”
After some rather blue off the record-discussion about private lives , private parts and something resembling a unicorn, we get down to brass corsets. So, what is the junk?
“Yes, Junk”, replies Atkins. There are two sets of prizes, the early prizes you can grab consist of the useless crap that's been lying around the host or performer's house, like that book he bought for a class in university that he never read, old beaten up toy from his childhood and VHS tapes - of course. Atkins is tight-lipped when it comes to the real booty, hinting that if the idea of finding booty when it’s not a booty call appeals, then you will love the junk.
“It's arguable whether sex on stage, burlesque, ‘the art of concealment’, is always in fashion, it is right now”, insists Atkins, “When you hide something, cover it up, it creates mystery, people love mystery. “
“Speaking historically, Burlesque is a very old term that means ‘to jest’. It was used in musical forms. Around the mid-late 1800s European cabarets began to flourish and we saw the establishment of venues such as Moulin Rouge, featuring energetic and sexualised routines performed by women that were at odds with the dominant cultural representation of women of the time being meek and mild."
At the same time, Lydia Thompson and her British Blondes (a UK troupe) toured large theatres in the USA to massive success. This spawned many copycat shows, and burlesque was about women creating theatre shows, playing men but wearing corsets, parodying popular culture in overtly sexual ways, padding their boobs and hips, appearing to be nude, or thereabouts and singing risque songs. It was gender-confusing and gender-controversial. “
Conversation turns from nonsense to blue to political mindfulness, to feminism in particular.
“Even a traditional show today is a little different to the Golden Age, given the social changes such as feminism- the way female bodies are perceived, critiqued and problematised in contemporary culture - the social frame today is different to what it used to be, affecting how performers perform, and their expectations too. We are expected to know our feminist stance, something Golden Age performers didn't have to do.”
Photo: Becky Lou, Burlesque performer, Grab My Junk
GRAB MY JUNK
RED BENNIES, Friday