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April 10th, 2006

Starshine Burlesque: Good Evening Ladies & Gentlemen. Relax and Enjoy the Show!

by Jennifer Upchurch

Every Thursday evening in a little nightspot hidden from the bustle and grind of daily life in New York is a magical show of sparkle and glitter. When you walk through the door of RiFiFi you are taken into a packed East Village bar with a beautiful blonde bartender. A bawdy gal hollers over the crowd “Showtime!” and the crowd grabs their drinks and lines up to go through the glass doors and past the velvet curtains into the back room.

In the last few years Burlesque has come back with a vengeance and with it countless shows that have come and gone throughout the New York area. Yet, Starshine Burlesque has held its spot in the bump and grind circuit with standing room only crowds every week.

The original Starshine Burlesque was born when Cinema Classics changed its name to RiFiFi and built a stage for live performers. After its founder, Eva the Diva, returned to her native Sweden 4 years ago, the show fell to the ample bra cups of Starshine’s regular performers: Creamy Stevens and Little Brooklyn.

The new blood transformed the eccentric and unpredictable conglomeration of acts into a thriving staple of the NYC performance scene. Holding strong to Starshine’s style with a wide variety of acts and new performers – Creamy and Brooklyn added stability and promotion; they found themselves with seats filled and performers constantly calling them for bookings.

Many of today’s New York burlesque starlets took it all off first at Starshine. Nearly every week you can watch the tender dreams of a young girl realized as she steps onto the Starshine stage for the first time. But it’s not amateur night by any means. Established entertainers all come back to do shows. Some come from as far as San Francisco and New Orleans to make a triumphant return to the small stage. And the stage is really small. It’s been called “a cute cabaret stage” and “intimate” (which is like reading “cozy” in a real estate ad for an East Village apartment). If you sit in the front row your face is less than four feet from the performers –many of whom are in various states of undress. So, whether that’s an inconvenience or not, is a matter of opinion. But it’s not just about stripping. The new burlesque is performance art – and the performers pour their hearts (and more) into their acts.

Creamy Stevens and Little Brooklyn work extraordinarily hard on Starshine and their work pays off. All the women make their own costumes and choreograph their own dances. They lug suitcases full of glitter and sequins up the subway stairs, glue tiny costume pieces onto their most delicate flesh — while packed back to back and side to side into the barely curtained-off dressing area. It’s not all limelight and lovelies!

A peek into the dressing room before the show reveals both sexes preparing for the show. Starshine Burlesque combines dancing girl acts with fun and often wacky MC’s and variety acts. What makes the combination work? Magic. On any given week you might see Lucky Devil fire-eater and sword-swallower, Tyler Fyre, or magicians Albert Cadabra and Magic Brian. This always-unpredictable show is truly different every week.

Starshine has developed a strong regular following (often said by the performers to be “the best audience in New York”). In fact many of the performers themselves make up the audience on weeks they’re not performing. They are a fun audience–cheering wildly, hooting and hollering during every act–livening the scene and helping new performers get through their acts. During the 2005 MTA strike, Starshine drew a crowd despite the fact that some in the audience had walked over two hours from Brooklyn to see the show.

Creamy and Brooklyn are tireless supporters of the NY Burlesque community and they have hosted countless fundraisers for injured dancers and performers that moved to a new city. They have raised money for more established Burlesque organizations as well, such as Exotic World (organized by legendary Burlesque Dame, Miss Dixie Evans; www.exoticworld.com).

Starshine’s website links to every single Burlesque performer’s website, and also to other current shows. It’s a great place to check out new talent and find out what’s available.

For information, go to their website at www.StarshineBurlesque.com or just come to the show at RiFiFi, 332 East 11th Street at 1st Avenue, Thursday night at 10:15pm. Best part of all, it’s only $5. Make sure you have a fabulous drink by the legendary bartender, Lindsay before or after the show — and why not buy a performer a drink too? Who knows? You may end your evening with a showgirl or sword-swallower for a new friend! *

Filed Under: Articles | Arts & Leisure | New York

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