Posted by Jules V Moorhead | Posted in burlesque, Meet the Variety | Posted on 25-08-2015
Bawdy: 1. dealing with sexual matters in a comical way; humorously indecent.
When the five founding members of Bawdy Shop Burlesque got together in 2014 and decided to form a new troupe in Baltimore, they named themselves with a pun. And their chosen moniker couldn’t be more fitting. Since their debut one year ago with the scripted show Goin’ Downee Oshun!, the Bawdies — Kay Sera, Cherie Nuit, Ruby Rockafella, Sunny Sighed and Giddy GoGo — have been consistently delivering hilarious, ribald performances that raise the bar for regional burlesque shows.
Their most recent scripted show, Search for the C-Word, had the Bawdies scouring Baltimore City in search of its missing charm on a quest given to them by the tap dancing vagina goddess Vaginethea. Led by her heavenly queefs and a spirit guide in the form of Stephon Walker, the intrepid quintet visited many of Baltimore’s most iconic neighborhoods — from Hampden’s Avenue to Fells Point — and iconic features including rats and the city’s beloved white marble stoops. In the end, it turned out the missing charm was there all along, in the form of its inimitably quirky residents (and a bit of nether-region adornment).
But Bawdy Shop Burlesque didn’t happen overnight. It was the brainchild of Sunny Sighed, who fell in love with the idea of scripted shows while she was a part of the late, lamented Baltimore troupe Sticky Buns Burlesque. Having worked with the other women in various shows in the area and knowing their experience not just in burlesque but in theater, visual art and dance, Sunny approached the ladies with the idea and everyone jumped at the chance to be involved. “It worked out even better than I could have imagined,” Sunny said. “Kay, Ruby, Cherie and Giddy were all right on board and they are among the hardest-working, creative, intelligent and wacky women I’ve ever met!”
Bawdy Shop has found Charm City to be a generous muse. “We aspire to honor the tradition of authentic absurdity that makes Baltimore ‘The Greatest City in America,’ as the benches say!” the ladies explained. “The people of Baltimore are incredible. The community as a whole is so proud of everything the city has to offer, no matter how weird or different it may be, so long as it comes from a place of true passion.”
“Baltimore’s bizarre brand of burlesque is what made me fall in love with the art form,” Giddy adds. “I love the emphasis on performance art mixed with message — it’s a rare art form in which the same show can make you laugh, cry, think and feel a little funny downstairs…all in a matter of minutes.”
The five women consider themselves more than just a troupe. They’re also a family that works together as a tight-knit team. While they all wear many hats, collaboration is key: Sunny is their choreographer, Cherie Nuit is the graphic artist and screen printer, Giddy GoGo is the stage manager and backstage organizer, Kay Sera is the team’s marketing/social media queen and webmaster and Ruby Rockafella is the troupe treasurer and merchandise manager. But the troupe purposefully doesn’t have a “troupe leader.” Cherie explained, “As a troupe that prides itself on not having a designated ‘leader,’ we all had equal parts responsibility in its formation. We all brainstormed names, came up with show concepts, and created our mission and goals. I am thrilled to be working with a group of women that are so passionate and intelligent! It is always inspiring.”
Their scripts are also true collaborations, with each troupe member contributing to the story and their own characters. As Ruby said, “I really enjoy that we get to write all the characters in the show and guide their transformations. It’s ridiculously fun to write parts for the other Bawdies. I think how well we know each other really shines through in our shows.”
One of the biggest burlesque events this region has seen was Don’t Knock the Block, a fundraiser for the Burlesque Hall of Fame, the world’s only museum dedicated to burlesque. The event, boasting more than 20 local performers in one show, was a huge success — raising $5,000 for the Hall of Fame’s Legends Challenge, the largest fundraising event in the challenge’s history. “In order for burlesque to continue to evolve, it’s important that we understand where the art came from and to appreciate the experiences and contributions of the legends who shaped it,” Kay explained.
The next adventure for the Bawdy Babes is an indoor/outdoor variety show as part of HampdenFest 2015. The Avenue Meets The Strip will include members of TimelessTease Productions and Twisted Knickers, plus a host of other local favorites for a wacky extravaganza that could only happen in Hampden.
The Bawdies are also excited to announce their second annual Bawdy Shop of Horrors Halloween show on October 30 at The Ottobar, and they’re working with The Creative Alliance to do a second series of burlesque “boot camp” classes in the Spring of 2016 that will cap off with a student showcase. And that’s all on top of their individual solo careers.
As a fellow member of the Baltimore burlesque scene, I know I’m constantly challenged to up my game by these brilliant, creative women. Let’s hope they continue being Bawdy for a long time to come!