Volume 75, Number 30 | December 14 - 20, 2005

Clockwise from above: Miss Saturn is adept with hula hoops; Peekaboo Pointes dances with strategically placed feathers; emcee Norman Gosney banters with the audience.

Norman’s night out

Text and photos by John Ranard

If today’s world isn’t enough of a burlesque, one can visit Norman Gosney’s basement show at Scenic on Avenue B. Gosney has been in the business for years and brings in some of the best-looking underdressed women in the city.

A club designer since he moved to New York in the ’80s, he built Area, Danceteria, World and the original Tunnel. His love for burlesque goes back to when he was a kid in England spending time in the back room of his parent’s pub where the best and the worst performed. He remembers an old woman who took out her teeth. The whole room broke out in applause, every time. Later, in the ’60s, he joined the British musical ensemble Crystal Theater in Bristol.

Burlesque depends on full body language, often exaggerated, and with a focus on sexual innuendo. Without the bump, grind and shimmy, it ain’t the same thing. “Film and especially television like close-ups,” says Gosney. “It’s all white teeth and hair. Take a genius comic at burlesque, put him on TV, and he comes across as a monster.”

Burlesque depends on a live participatory audience capable of well-placed catcalls. In keeping with the working-class back-room atmosphere of his youth, Gosney keeps things affordable and lively. “If you don’t like the act,” Gosney reminds the audience repeatedly throughout the show, “go buy a drink, come back, and a new girl is onstage.”

There is Bunny Love who likes all things wet — she bathes with soapy water onstage wearing two pasties and a G-string. Miss Amelia does a “burletta,” a three-minute film clip chosen by the audience. Miss Saturn twirls 10 or more hula hoops half nude. Heather von Domhoff, who sometimes shows up from San Francisco, needs only to unbutton the top of her dress to bring the crowd to their knees. Melody Sweets plays a brilliant inebriated Italian pastry chef. And then there is Peekaboo Pointes, with tattoos in all the right places.

Scenic is at 25 Avenue B (between Second and Third Sts.) Burlesque shows are the last Thursday of every month. Entry fee is $10.

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