SuicideGirls give frisky, lively performance at The New Parish

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The anti-mainstream, alternative pin-up beauty of the SuicideGirls makes them the most fitting group of women to hybridize nerdy fandom with indie-electronic striptease in their hit Blackheart Burlesque tour, a show that ditches traditional, slow-moving, genre striptease for hard-hitting dance and sci-fi seduction.

Last Friday, Oakland’s New Parish stage opened with a single bobbed-haired woman dressed in standard cabaret get-up: corset, garter and black feather boa. As she flailed around to an old ragtime song, her musical backing suddenly dissolved into a trap EDM beat. And with that, high-pitched Japanese pop lyrics ushered in the SuicideGirls’ fantastically weird vision of sextertainment. After raucously overthrowing the archetype burlesque image, five of the SuicideGirls in tiger, cat and panda onesie pajamas enticed the crowd with their distinct breed of fuzzy, cute outfits and pulsating butt cheeks.

Where the usual burlesque striptease slowly builds to the big reveal of bare breasts, the SuicideGirls didn’t wait to undo the top halves of their onesies, greeting the roaring audience with black X-shaped pasties as their hip-hop routine transformed geek costume into niche lingerie.

Everyone expected their undress. By delivering that right away, the members of the Blackheart Burlesque tour made their show unpredictable in other ways, alluring audience excitement, leaving them curious as to what other smart pairings of adult fandom lay waiting. They established their flavor of subversive burlesque, inventing a new kind of sexy only in the SuicideGirls way.

After a dark Clockwork Orange-themed routine to Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer,” the night’s first solo routine saw SuicideGirl Kayla Cadorna as Lara Croft dancing to Bjork’s “Army of Me.” The tomb raider stole the night’s solos with provocative gun-licking, splits and handstands. The crowd even cheered louder for the explosive feats of flexibility than for the actual stripping. The solo dancer filled the stage with a fierce presence and established the show as not just a just a variety of pop culture sex routines but as a triumph of the SuicideGirls’ talent pool.

With its red leather and pop-dancing zombie villains, the thirst for flesh and Michael Jackson’s classic hip thrusting moves made the most sense when adapted to the tantalizing context of sex show. The fan favorite choreography galvanized the entire crowd, making this the highest-energy moment of the entire line-up.

Tying the “titiliicious” show together, MC and performer Sunny Suicide interspersed the dance acts with songs and audience participation. At a break, she invited an attendee onstage for a chance to win a year’s subscription to the SuicideGirls website. His instructions: sit and read a fifth-grade-level short story as Sunny taunted him in lingerie. Mid-lap dance, the man placed the sheet of paper atop her buttocks, and she slapped his gesture away, getting up to flex her body, a few feet removed from him. The art of the tease came to life expertly here, and this moment made it all the more apparent that the performance was just as much about the women enjoying themselves as it was about the audience’s gaze.

Sunny then transitioned into the role of kinky, flogger-wielding schoolteacher in a BDSM-inspired chair routine that had three of the SuicideGirls dancing while bound in handcuffs and blindfolds — the delicate coordination all masterminded by choreographer Manwe Sauls-Addison — who has worked with the likes of Beyonce and Lady Gaga. Sauls-Addison’s edgy routines were an impressive sight to see, not just for the women executing them, but for the flawless timing.

From a bellydancing slave Leia to a six-woman corseted Stormtrooper finale, the Blackheart Burlesque ran like a live action rendition of erotic fan fiction — but with smart references and musical pairings. With unprecedented acts of geek-themed seduction, the show curated a high-energy fantasy land of sex and fandom. Often, one couldn’t decipher what the crowd appreciated more: the pop-culture playfulness or the racy black X pasties underneath. Either way, the SuicideGirls’ unique brand of alternative beauty made the best package for delivering this gift of adult nerd entertainment.

Contact Jennifer Wong at [email protected]

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