Sex and comedy are not the most obvious bedfellows. One seems like it should be undertaken with the utmost seriousness and the other should be a fun romp. Which is which, depends on the individual.
Fortunately, the packed house audience at Pianos Bar & Grill didn’t have to choose. The White Elephant Burlesque Society’s performance on Saturday night, delivered what their website promises: “ [the] melding of a gypsy cabaret approach with vaudevillian burlesque … featuring a variety of bawdy humor, salacious dancing, and a sincere, modern adaptation of the classic style that has never been more relevant.”
After performing to the song “Candy Man” and littering the audience with treats, Viktor Devonne, master of ceremonies for the evening, started the show by announcing the troupe’s fifth anniversary. The show that followed was a tantalizing mix of tease and wit.
Whether it was one lover playfully plying another with alcohol to convince her to stay (set to the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”) or nerdy cartoon character stripping to “Notice Me” by Alexa Rae Joel, the troupe was captivating.
The most poignant moment of the performance came when Devonne took the stage and began peeling layers of clothing away to reveal the ugly things people say about others set to the song “Jar of Hearts” by Christina Perri. Among a cast of outcasts and misfits, the act truly felt heartfelt.
However, the most elaborate piece told a story about a secret affair and went from the two adulterers hiding as household objects, to the murder of the cheating husband, to his jubilant celebration of the afterlife scored to Florence + the Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over”.
Distinctive and original shows like this are what really set Pianos apart from the rest of the bars in Jersey – a refreshing break from the norm.
The devoted crowd, comprised of many who traveled from out of state to see the show, couldn’t have been more delighted with the presentation.
“It’s fabulous. Full of imagination and real talent. And it’s spontaneous. You’re never quite sure what you’re going to see. I love it,” said Elle Costell, an audience member seeing White Elephant for the second time.
Hailey Costell, who brought her mother to her first White Elephant show, said, “The first time I saw them was at a function called the Anachronism. I was so pleasantly surprised. It was a really wonderful show and they’re just as awesome now.”
“I think it’s great. I’ve had a lot of fun watching it. It’s my first one,” said the Costell’s friend Christian Bradford, who didn’t need to be asked twice when told there was a burlesque show in town.
The White Elephant Burlesque Society will return to the area on October 15th at Cult of Fury Studios in Wayne. For more information about their shows, visit www.weburlesque.com.