Pick-A-Card: A Burlesque Exploration of the Tarot

img685So last night (Saturday, 27 September 2014), i went to Ann Arbor, MI’s historic Michigan Theater for an event that I was told by some people that I should go see for reasons. Mostly that they knew someone who was in the show. So cos I really couldn’t think of anything better to do, and cos it’s actually pretty rare that something as cool as this actually happens in Ann Arbor, I went out.

The night started… Well, the evening of mine started in the middle of the afternoon, with me looking for my crimping iron after my shower, wasting nearly half an hour looking for the thing, and then realising not only after I gave up on the hunt due to time, but realised about halfway through getting dressed, as I was putting on my make-up, that I really didn’t have the time to do the fliering for a project of my own before the show, assuming I took the bus. Then Twink Boy’s mother showed up with him, and he was planning on going, too, and his mother just offered to drop us off, which was nice –still didn’t really give me time to run fliers at people before the thing, though.

program cover

program cover

While in line to get our admission, an eccentric old guy who had apparently been one of the Kickstarter people for this event said his friends failed to meet up with him, so he gave us two VIP passes —effectively saving us each $20 admission, so maybe it was best that I failed to find my crimper in time? (In case you were curious, I *did* find it just before leaving, in a spot I’d looked over several times.) I’m going to save you the story about how Zingerman’s can go fuck themselves with their overpriced chocolates that aren’t even soy-free, and my lunch of popcorn (lunchtime for me is about 6pm).

So, the show started at about 8pm. Each performance was based, sometimes VERY loosely, on a card in the classic Tarot deck. The cards interpreted through burlesque STRIPTEASE (“burlesque” is NOT a synonym for striptease; burlesque is a genre of comedy) were: The Magician (which was technically an acrobatic act), The Devil, The Tower, Queen of Swords, The Fool, The Lovers, The Star, The Three of Cups, The High Priestess, Death, Temperance, Justice, Strength, The Moon, The Sun, The Hierophant, and The Empress.

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I did manage to get some actual photos of the performances (*technically* there was a “no photography but ours” sign, but I’ve known enough theatre and museum employees to know that the “no photos” notices actually mean “No FLASH Photography”, but apparently people will listen to a blanket ban on photos before they’ll bother to turn off their flash). Unfortunately, cos I forgot to charge the battery for the proper camera before taking off, I had to get pics on my phone –which sucks with low lighting photography, and apparently the camera function sucks up battery life like no-one’s business, and I couldn’t get pics of all the performances –which I am really kind of pissed at myself over, cos my favourite performance was The Hierophant. Hopefully more photos will surface on the FB event page over the next week or two, but here are some of the best from my own pics:

The Magician
This was a really lovely acrobatic act from Violet and Fortuna. I really regret these are the only decent photos from that.

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The Devil
An amazing gender-fucking performance. Even at the end, I still wasn’t sure if Red Rum was male or female, cis or trans (I also hadn’t yet read the program), but this was beautiful and hilarious. She also did an AMAZING interpretation of The Hierophant, which I think deserved to be the closer over Roxi D’Lite’s interpretation of The Empress. I get that D’Lite was the bigger name, and D’Lite’s hoop-dancing was impressive, but after Red Rum’s Hierophant, I wasn’t that impressed with D’Lite.

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The Tower
Gala Delicious’ performance for The Tower was beautiful. My pics really don’t do it justice.

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Queen of Swords
As much as I loved Red Rum’s gender-fucking Devil, this was my favourite performance from Act One, with The Star as a very close second fave from the first act. Hopefully some of these pics will show why.

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The Fool
I’m not sure how I feel about this one. The Fool is a card that always struck me as humorous but in a very dark way (in the classic tarot, the figure is literally walking off a cliff as he’s strolling along and singing). Lushes LaMoan just kind of went in this completely silly German Beer Harlequin direction and I think she missed an opportunity to do something a bit more tragic while being still humorous.

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The Lovers
I really liked this one. Tea is a transgender dancer (says so in the program), which was nice to see, cos visibility matters, damnit. I didn’t really get much from the card off this, but as a blacklit performance, it was gorgeous.

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The Star
I really loved this one, but unfortunately most of my photos of it sucked. Here are the few that are worthy of viewing.

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Three of Cups
I loved this performance. It’s very easily in my top three for act one, and considering all that went into it, and that it’s a stunning theatre piece on its own, I feel REALLY bad that it’s not actually my favourite of Act One or in my Top Three performances of the entire evening. I did, however, think of my favourite Dionysians (Sannion and Dver) the whole time, and I’m pretty sure they’d’ve appreciated it. My photos don’t do the performance justice, but this performance did have the highest percentage of usable photos.

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The High Priestess
The audience pretty clearly loved this, but I gotta admit, i didn’t get what they loved so much. It wasn’t a bad performance, I just can’t think of anything that really stood out about it and grabbed me, you know?

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Death
I really loved this performance, but the glitter on the otherwise very sheer bodysuit and the dancer’s pale-pale skin made almost all the pics I took on my shitty phone came very washed-out.

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…and like I said, it is with deepest regrets that I don’t have ANY photos at all for Temperance, Justice, Strength, The Moon (which I also really loved) The Sun, The Hierophant (best overall, in my opinion), and The Empress (who was completely upstaged by Red Rum interpreting The Hierophant).

I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and best of all, I got to keep my $20 –though if I had to pay, it would’ve clearly been well-spent. Thank you, you nameless eccentric old man, who gave me one of your unused VIP passes!

ETA: Just noticed this from the FB Event page —t-shirts!

ETA2: And found the gallery of GOOD photos!

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2 thoughts on “Pick-A-Card: A Burlesque Exploration of the Tarot

  1. Thank you for the lovely words! My troupe and I travelled in from Toronto to do this, and it was honestly the most magical, emotional show I have participated in in the five years I’ve been doing burlesque. xo Delicia (Temperance and one of the Three of Cups)

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