The Orion

Burlesque dancers get ‘unconventionally sexy’ at Malteazers’ performance

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Little Lulu Mae adjusts her wig in the outdoor dressing room on the back patio of The Maltese before her performance as a '50s housewife on Sunday. Photo credit: Annie Paige

For The Malteazers, burlesque shows are about more than just leopard leotards, pink bras and silver heels.

“We don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable about what they came to see. We keep it light-hearted and fun,” said Betty Ren, one of the troupe managers and dancers. “Being sexy should be fun. It shouldn’t be this big thing that people stress about. And anybody can be sexy.”

Big personality and showmanship is something the dancers bring in spades to their burlesque shows, held every first Saturday of the month. Some of the dancers, men and women, are Chico State students.

“We really like to hold that flag that this is a safe place to embrace any kind of gender and sexuality in an artistic and open relationship,” Betty Ren said.

The Malteazers one-year anniversary is Nov. 1 and will be its biggest show of the year. There will be local talent in addition to guest performers.

The Orion went backstage during Saturday’s “Unconventionally Sexy”-themed show to find out what it takes to be a burlesque dancer.

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Photographs by Annie Paige.

7:39 p.m.: Veronica Sardonica saunters into The Maltese clad in a leopard leotard and black corset. Sardonica, a dancer and troupe manager, likes to create “tongue-in-cheek” characters, including a beach-babe edition of Sarah Palin.

“Some girls do it just because it’s fun, (but) I get paid to go up on stage and take off my clothes,” she said. “I don’t have the body type to be a stripper, but I still get to get up on stage and take my clothes off and feel sexy.”

8:26 p.m.: Betty Ren, dancer and manager, walks onto the bar’s patio and into the dressing room in small outdoor alcove. The makeshift room is nestled against the outside of the bar, underneath a tree with a dingy mirror and a dim yellow light. Black and white see-through curtains offer some semblance of privacy.

8:52 p.m.: Dancers quickly inflate pastel balloons to create one of Betty Ren’s costumes.

10:48 p.m.: The show begins when Sardonica takes to the stage in a furry brown bear suit and Betty Ren introduces the first act.

10:52 p.m.: The first song stays true to the awkwardly-sexy theme of the night with an homage to Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy.” Apollo, a “bro-lesque” dancer, shimmies around the stage while wearing gold boy shorts. Betty Ren and he make love to the camera, literally kissing the air.

10:56 p.m.: A garlic clove, portrayed by Mizz Muffit, looks for love from other foods. She samples a strawberry and whipped cream before finding her soulmate in another garlic clove, portrayed by Stella Nova.

11:00 p.m.: The inaugural dance of new performer, Miss D, is a duet with Apollo. It features music from Delta Rae and a “redneck-inspired” dance and striptease. Miss D yanks off Apollo’s plaid shirt from underneath his overalls and sports a pink bra.

11:02 p.m.: Little Lulu Mae saunters on stage in her pale nightie and pink monster slippers. Throughout the dance, she reverse strips into a white and black polka dot dress.

11: 23 p.m.: Betty Ren arrives in a netted jumpsuit filled with balloons and large bouncing balls. When the song begins, she tosses a balloon over her shoulder, giving a sassy smile to the audience.

11:25 p.m.: Mizz Muffit gracefully enters in a Marilyn-Monroe-styled white dress. The song, called “Bush,” quickly becomes raunchy, however, as she shows off her luscious armpit and pubic hair, made of artificial wig material.

11:29 p.m.: Back on stage in her furry costume is Veronica Sardonica, following along with the night’s light mood with the “Chicken Dance.” Halfway through the song she attempts to sexily abandon the furry costume to Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle.” Fittingly, she has to be unzipped from her costume by Apollo before continuing her number.

11:37 p.m.: “Jump in the Line (Shake, Senora)” by Harry Belafonte is played for the show’s end, a tradition for The Malteazers. The audience is invited onstage to join the fun and offer their own sexy dance moves.

Kristen Moran can be reached at [email protected] or @kristenvmoran on Twitter.

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Burlesque dancers get ‘unconventionally sexy’ at Malteazers’ performance