Five Questions with Little Brooklyn
Little Brooklyn is one of the lights of New York’s burlesque revival. As gifted a comedian as she is a peeler, Brooklyn’s numbers include a stripping Rosie the Riveter, a pre-Hayes code-inspired black and white clown, and a glittering, disco-ball … Read More
Little Brooklyn is one of the lights of New York’s burlesque revival. As gifted a comedian as she is a peeler, Brooklyn’s numbers include a stripping Rosie the Riveter, a pre-Hayes code-inspired black and white clown, and a glittering, disco-ball covered tribute to Abba’s Dancing Queen. I catch up with Brooklyn during a very brief gap in her performance schedule. Molly: By day you're a corporate animator. What led a girl like you into burly-q? Brooklyn: The original inspirations that peeked my interested in burlesque/vaudeville were: the Muppet show…oh to have my own theater just like Kermit the Little Rascals…all those episodes where the gang decides to "put on a show." Tex Avery… Had me titillated those early Saturday mornings, from strip teasing shoes to a-peeling lizards. Benny Hill, Lucille Ball, Pee Wee Herman, MGM, the list goes on. Fast forward 20 some odd years and I started to discover a variety of burlesque related events going on around me in NY: Ducky Doolittle had her weekly "dirty bingo" at what was then barmacy, the show included two go-go gals who sometimes did little striptease skits. I caught the Pontani sisters doing their thing at Burlesque at the Beach in Coney Island and was immediately taken with the old school charm. And I had the good fortune of seeing the VaVaVoom Room, which included the three biggest modern influences on me… Dirty Martini, Julie Atlas Muz and Tigger. I loved the entertainment at these events, the humor, the body types and the charm. I loved how I felt and I wanted the opportunity to make other people feel the same way. Yep, I’m a designer by day and I love my day job just as much. I'm quite lucky to have so many creative outlets. I think both jobs teach me problem solving skills that I can relate to each other. Molly: Despite being extremely un-lucrative, burlesque is a passion (bordering on addiction) for hundreds of women around the world. What do you think makes the lifestyle so popular?
Brooklyn: In this oversexed day of celebrity-flesh-internet-porn-etc I cant help but think people are attracted to the slow burn, the tease, the wink and nod. Some come for the humor, some come for the glamour, but everyone comes for the cleverly hidden flesh carefully revealed. Burlesque also gives people permission to look and laugh at ourselves. The opportunity to see real bodies, and by real I mean thin, curvy, flat, tall…freckles, dimples, stretch marks and all. For ladies to see woman who look like themselves and for men to see what happens to a real body when it hasn't been airbrushed. Molly: Your acts really embody the two meanings of burlesque (comedy and striptease), and I've sometimes heard you describe your performances as funny rather than sexy. Want to talk more about your use of humor? Brooklyn: Funny is sexy to me. Molly: There are enough Jewish ladies in burlesque to make a stage show (Nice Jewish Girls Gone Bad). Has being Jewish inspired any of your acts? And would you like to talk about the legacy of Jewish dames in burlesque? Brooklyn: Of course! Who else but a Jewess from New York would do a burlesque routine to a Richard Simmons workout? You can’t help but do what you know. I have a soft spot for my mechanic act, cause it was written for my grandpappy – also a Brooklyn Jew. And I am sure my mothers cleaning OCD highly inspired my housewife act. Both acts include faux fan dancing (hubcaps and dirty dishes in place of fans) The second part of this question opened up a Pandora's box filled with glitter and rhinestones. I am aware of the strong influence American Jews have had in the history of burlesque, playing off our stereotypes as quirky and manic. but I did not have a list of female names offhand who I was sure were in fact of Jewish descent and paving the glittery way. I was doing a little research and one in particular stands out, Fanny Brice “One of America's great clowns.” Born on the Lower East Side of New York in 1891, she appeared in burlesque and vaudeville, drama, film, and musical revues (including nine Ziegfeld Follies between 1910 and 1936) But get this line… She refined her craft as a comic artist, describing herself as "a cartoonist working in the flesh." I have said that very same thing about myself, on account of my “day job”. It’s in the blood I tell you! Molly: Right now you're running two weekly shows, at Riffifi and Lotus, plus performing constantly around town. Do you have any future plans for Little Brooklyn world domination? Brooklyn: Ha, I just want to get through tomorrow. One day at a time sister. Molly: Got any shows coming up? Brooklyn: Come watch me fight off the Plague of Lice as well as my clothes at KOSHER CHIXXX PASSOVER STYLE: GET LIBERATED. Presented by the 14th St. Y. Thu. Mar 29 (9 PM) at Mo Pitkin's House of Satisfaction 34 Avenue A , New York, NY They can check out info all about me at www.littlebrooklyn.com and the shows I co-produce with Creamy stevens, Starshine Burlesque at Rififi on Thursdays and Gold Rush Burlesque at Lotus on Tuesdays at www.starshineburlesque.com