March 24, 2011

Making Noise: Meet the burlesque 'dishes'

At ease with tease: Meet the burlesque 'dishes'


It might be the laughs, the lingerie or the ribald and randy audience, but something about burlesque hits the spot for our isolated little corner of the country.

click image to enlarge

The Dirty Dishes Burlesque Revue started as The Damsels in Burlesque in 2006, expanded to 10 women and now comprises a core of five performers.

Photo by August Dalrymple


WHEN: 8:30 p.m. (doors at 8) Saturday

WHERE: The Oak & The Ax, 140 Main St., Biddeford

HOW MUCH: $6 and $10

INFO:; ages 18 and older

iPod TOP 10

(Or, Dirty Dishes' top 10 performances, in no particular order):

"Be Our Guest" from Disney's "Beauty & the Beast" soundrack: "We serve up a four-course meal on our brassieres and finish with dessert."

"Human Fly," The Cramps: "Spider & Fly. Ophelia Heiny mauled by the ladybeast."

"Apple Pie," The Bastard Fairies: "Rosie Rimjob and Victoria von show off their domestic goddessness with a side of pie in the face."

"Pink Elephants on Parade," from Disney's "Dumbo" soundtrack: "Paper parasols and a chance of pink?"

"It's A Man's Man's Man's World," James Brown: "Ophelia Heiny and Rosie Rimjob drag it out man-style, with a reverse tease."

"Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)," ABBA: "Wiley I. Crisis hawks gender-defender potion and then finds her own gender bending."

"Apocalyptic Tea Party," mash-up with Venus in Furs, Velvet Underground, Sick of It All and The Toy Dolls: "Tableau tea party with the Absinthe Fairy."

"Brick House," Rob Zombie: "Mummies in sarcophagi break it down and unfurl their wrappings."

"Allegro from Spring," Vivaldi: "An interpretive striptease tribute to the great, great, great, great, great Isadora Duncan."

"Come See About Me," The Supremes: Mermaids gone wrong, fish heads instead of fins a radio drama."


After GO's (ahem) expose of the rising subculture last week, we wanted to dig a little deeper into what motivates the Portland burlesque performer and gauge how the calls of the crowd fuel and inspire the sexy slinking.

This week, we sat down with the saucy provocateurs in The Dirty Dishes Burlesque Revue to find out just what gets the cat outta the bag every night. 

Where did the idea for the Dirty Dishes come from?

Victoria von: Rosie Rimjob and I had performed burlesque together as The Damsels in Burlesque back in 2006, and were craving a new beginning. Ophelia Heiny had recently moved to Maine and was looking for a troupe to get involved with. Wiley I. Crisis and the ladybeast were searching for a new style of performance. The group began much larger, about 10 women, and eventually solidified as five Dirty Dishes. 

You've mentioned you aim to provide a "safe space" for both audience and performers. What about burlesque is potentially unsafe?

Victoria von: Burlesque explores and plays with sexuality in ways that haven't been done before by and for people whose desires, sexualities and gender expressions are not represented in mainstream media and performance. When we say we want to provide a "safe space," we aim to create an environment that allows people to be themselves, both on the stage and in the audience, a space that is safe for queer or taboo or alternative representations of sexuality. Burlesque has the ability to literally create a space that does not generally exist in the world, for anybody who does not fit the traditional image of what is sexy.

Rosie Rimjob: It's important for the show to be comfortable for everyone. Sex and anything pertaining to it has the potential to hold a lot of animosity. For anybody new to burlesque, as a performer or audience member, just a hint of unease is enough to keep people away. 

How does a Dirty Dishes show ease the burden of self-consciousness?

Victoria von: We work hard to book a diverse lineup of performers for our shows. This means a wide array of differences are represented on the stage, so that audience members can connect to people who look like them or have the same fetishes. So you'll see different body types, gender expressions and skin colors. And burlesque, by definition, is a mockery, so it allows performers to play with bodies and sex and poke fun at the awkwardness and seriousness often attached to sexual expression and interaction. 

What's the wildest thing that ever happened during a performance?

Victoria von: It's normal for us to lug strange props around (a toilet, a kiddie pool, cardboard sarcophagi). Onstage, the wildest we've gotten is smearing each other with pie and fake blood, respectively. Offstage, backstage, the collective chaos is wild in this fantastical way. Huge wigs, layers of bright makeup, amazingly crafted costumes, glitter everywhere, random props and snacks and bits of performances being rehearsed.

Rosie Rimjob: I think my favorite moments are just before we get on the stage, particularly to do a dance with two strawberry pies and say, "OK, the pie is only going to get on the table and our faces." Four minutes later, you suddenly realize there is pie in your hair, all over your body, scattered all across the stage, pie everywhere except for our faces and the table. This has also happened with whipped cream. 

(Continued on page 2)

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