The burlesque revival in Indianapolis is still going strong even in its thirteenth year. The movement that started with a single show on the Punk Rock Night stage in 2003 has expanded into six local troupes, an ever-growing number of independent performers and a seemingly nonstop schedule. And the scene really flairs up in July with some of the best shows of the year. The confluence of major local conventions creates an influx of nerd-inspired shows from a dizzying array of genres, from Monty Python to Magic: The Gathering. Here's a rundown of shows you shouldn't miss.
Stripalot: A Burlesque Tribute to Monty Python
July 11, 10 p.m. This is the second year for Stripalot, whose Monty Python theme sounds like it might somewhat limit the genre, but organizer Barbacoa Jones says Python's rich output creates tremendous opportunities. "We are shooting for the feel of an episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus," he says. "Every performer is required to be in several routines – much like the comedy troupe. ... The awesome routines from last year we kept, but the performers are revamping them to make them even more over the top. In kind of a twist on Python, we have made most of the men in the skits women."
Melody Inn, $8 in advance, $10 at door, punkrocknight.com
July 17, 18, 24, 25, 10 p.m. Angel Burlesque leader Katie Angel says nerdy topics give no end of new material for their annual Nerdgasm shows. "Everyone picks characters from references they love, so the variety is amazing," she says. "Video games, comic books, television, movies and card games. Inspiration comes from everywhere! Burlesque and nerdy themes are a match made in geeky heaven, to the point that people even refer to nerdy burlesque specifically as 'nerdlesque.' What can I say — nerdy people love sexy fun times! Every routine this year is brand new! We're expanding our nerd universe to some genres that haven't been covered before. The seasoned Angels are also presenting some pretty exciting material too and we're thrilled for our guest performers including Jason Adams. His group is sharing the story of young Ito and his journey to become a mech suit fighter in New Tokyo."
Theatre on the Square, $15, angelburlesque.com
Legendary: A Burlesque Pantheon of Myth and Magic
July 17-18, 10 p.m. The Rocket Doll Revue brings a literary element to their show, as Frenchy LaRouge explains: "'Legendary' is a mix of different mythologies, legends, monsters, and magic, or better yet, practitioners of magic," she says. "I have an educational background in Greek mythology and general love for wizards and many things typically considered nerdy. Burlesque fits in with nerd life so well primarily because burlesque itself is meant to be a parody of whatever is going on in the world — the word literally means to mock or parody in French. "
She says the Rocket Doll's famous group routines will be a highlight, as well as an appearance by Chicago performer Ray Ray Sunshine.
White Rabbit Cabaret. $10 in advance, $12 at door, rocketdollrevue.com/calendar
PEEP! presents Sapiosexual: An Ecdysiast Tribute to Geek Fandom!
July 20, 8:30 p.m. Organized by independent performers Pepper Mills and Bunny Elise VanDoren, PEEP! brings together performers from a wide variety of troupes and independent acts around the city, as well as guest performer Red Rum from Chicago, described as "The Lon Chaney of burlesque."
VanDoren says PEEP is an extension the Burlesque Craft Night she and Pepper Mills run. "People who would not normally work together get to laugh and connect backstage," she says. "It's also is a wonderful avenue for new performers to get stage time and develop which is so important in those first couple of years. Burlesque, specifically neo-burlesque. works so perfectly with nerd themes. You can tell a story, create an alternate universe for a popular character, or mash up two totally different realms."
Crackers in Broad Ripple, $10, crackerscomedy.com
Nerdy Flirty Burlesque
Aug. 1, 9 p.m. Creme de les Femmes' Nerdy Flirty Burlesque is another long-running stalwart of the nerd burlesque scene in the city. "Nerdy Flirty is one of our favorite shows to do," says producers Jezebel Sinfell and Scarlett Nopantson. "We will have some fan favorites returning along with some brand new acts, including a giant mutated rat, an ode to anime and other graphic novels."
They note that many of the same things that get people involved in nerd culture also attract them to burlesque: "Those who are drawn to those things tend to be a little left of center. Pulling from pop culture of the time is at the heart of burlesque. Burlesque is a very referential art form, which nerdy themes lend themselves to in general. A lot of nerdy themes are about dual personas, Superman/Clark Kent, Batman/Bruce Wayne, which is very much part of burlesque life."
Hi-Fi, $10 in advance, $12 at door, hifiindy.com