Posted by Jules V Moorhead | Posted in burlesque | Posted on 15-09-2015
My first taste of burlesque was a heady one. It was a Trixie Little and the Evil Hate Monkey show at Ottobar…and it blew my mind. I remember trying to describe it to a friend afterward and the best I could manage was, “It’s sort of like a drag show but with a lot more boobs.”
After that, I couldn’t get enough. I started attending any local show I saw advertised. A few years later, I ran into a local performer at a non-burlesque event, and she introduced me to her friend as Baltimore’s biggest burlesque groupie. I was thrilled and flattered. I had arrived! Little did I know it was only the beginning.
Not too long after that, I reconnected with a friend who was looking to move back to Baltimore at the same time I was looking for a new roommate. It just so happened that he’d studied burlesque with Trixie and Monkey while in college and was in the early stage of launching his own burlesque career. You may know this performer better as Betty O’Hellno.
Meanwhile…I was involved with local charity Moveable Feast. Some good friends were longtime participants and supporters of MF’s annual fundraiser Ride for the Feast. Betty and I hatched a plot to produce a charity show to benefit the Ride. We threw the idea around with some friends, one of whom was Lizzy Falltrades, and the result was Hot Dish. A few very generous local performers — including Hot Todd Lincoln and Valeria Voxx —agreed to donate their time and talents, and then we found a venue. Things were quickly coming together. At that point, I was strictly behind the scenes, organizing and stage managing but not on stage at all. The night of the show is mostly a blur, but it was a big success. We raised a bunch of money for Moveable Feast, but we also had a blast doing it.
In fact, we had so much fun producing our own show that we couldn’t stop thinking about it. At first, we decided to make Hot Dish an annual event. But that wasn’t enough. We started playing around with the idea of starting our own burlesque company…and the idea just wouldn’t go away. So we started asking the serious questions. Why did we want to start our own burlesque company? What would set us apart from all the others in the area? What did we want to accomplish with it? The answers came all too easily.
With my experience as a writer and Betty’s experience with event planning, set design and filmmaking, it seemed obvious. We’d be a theatrical company, producing scripted shows. But what was our angle? We came up with the idea that our main characters would be time travelers with a giant phallic time machine (which Betty sketched on the spot). With that concept in mind, our name seemed obvious.
It had become clear to both of us that this was more than just a pipedream, so we brought it up with our friends who’d helped with Hot Dish. They were both enthusiastically on board. And thus, TimelessTease Productions was born.
We immediately set about writing our first show, Steampunk Seductions: An Adventure in Victoriana. Set in Chicago during the famous Columbian Exposition of 1893, it was the story of two inventors traveling back in time only to have their time machine sabotaged by an evil inventor (Jim Dandy) and his assistant (who was secretly also a time traveler stuck in the past herself).
And somehow, suddenly, I was in the show. But only acting! I wasn’t going to strip. Well, not completely anyway. Betty was also in the show, of course. As was our stage manager and co-producer, Lizzy Falltrades, in a cameo. Our fourth co-founder was initially a main character as well as a stage kitten, but was in the process of deciding that maybe burlesque wasn’t for her, after all. (Which is okay. Burlesque isn’t for everyone.) That meant we had a big hole to fill, and who better to fill that hole than our lovely and talented co-star, Whiskey Joy. She stepped in with her usual effervescence and charm, and not only killed the role but became a permanent co-producer of TimelessTease Productions.
Steampunk Seductions was a big success. It sold out weeks before the night of the show. We performed to a packed house at Mobtown Ballroom and the feedback was incredibly positive. We were thrilled with the response, but also humbled by Baltimore’s enthusiastic embrace. Since then we’ve put on two more cabaret-style shows at The Crown, the second annual Hot Dish and Dive Bar Disasters, where I finally gave in and did my first full boylesque act.
Our model is to hopefully do two large-scale, full theatrical productions a year, interspersed with cabaret style shows. Our next fully-scripted original show is Nips at Nite, on September 26 at Mobtown Ballroom. It’s another time-traveling adventure, but this time we’ll be visiting the Golden Age of Television with homages to seven classic TV shows. It’s your childhood favorites all grown up! We’re all-in on this show, with all four co-producers in starring roles, and all original or reworked acts. It’s our most ambitious work yet.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We have other, even bigger plans in store for the future. Or the past. You know, with a giant time machine, you can never be sure.
Trixie Little has a quote, featured prominently in Us, Naked — the excellent documentary about her and Monkey. It goes, “Be careful to not make your dream too small because then you’re really screwed if you get it and it wasn’t enough.” That’s not a problem that we seem to have at TimelessTease Productions.
What’s next? Well, as we say at the end of each show, join us next time for another time-traveling TimelessTease Production! Who knows where we’ll land next…