Burlesque: The Art of the Tease in La-La Land

— by Caroline on Crack

Dita Von Teese
photo by Frank Mullen

Nowadays, nothing is shocking. Sex is out there for the world to see. What was confined to nudie shows and your dad’s hidden stack of porn is now on the Internet, on TV and even on the back pages of the LA Weekly. Everything is now in your face, from the bump and grind in your lap to the strippers taking it ALL off.

But fortunately for fans of suspense, burlesque is enjoying a comeback as well as a popularity among women. It’s a lesson in “sexy”: you tease a little, show a little, and make some promises you may or may not keep, all in a dance. None of this full frontal business and strutting around shaking your bare breastesses. You’d think in this land of desperate starlets and strip joints, burlesque would have no place to go. But the Pussycat Dolls got their start in the Viper Room. The Velvet Hammer, real women performing vintage burlesque, was founded in L.A. And Marilyn Manson’s beloved, Dita Von Teese, started her glam career in Hollywood.

But now that the Pussycat Dolls have moved off to Vegas and the Velvet Hammer to Berlin, where in L.A. can you find a good strip tease? Try the venues below where there are just as many women in the audience as men enjoying the show (maybe picking up some moves).

Ivan Kane’s Forty Deuce
The first time I went here was a couple of years ago. It’s a tiny space taken up mostly by stage and the bar area. Dark and usually packed, Forty Deuce gives off a speakeasy vibe. The lucky few grab seats along the stage and bar to see the action up close. Fortunately, I was among the lucky few. And what a show it was. My favorite dancer at the time was Carolina, an Argentine and salsa-dancing champion. She shimmied and strutted and seduced the audience with such ease. The jazz trio on stage with her didn’t have a chance as she flirted with them and tugged their ties. I felt inspired to take a strip tease class, it looked like so much fun. But the audience had a blast, and I think it would be a great place to throw a bachelor or bachelorette party. It’s not sleazy, just good old-fashioned burlesque, even featured in its own reality show on Bravo.

From LA.com:

The latest creation of clubmeister Ivan Kane, the club is a throwback to the days of old-style burlesque. The striptease dancers (with an emphasis on tease) are backed by a three-piece jazz combo. The bar doubles as the stage. When the girls aren’t performing, Forty Deuce feels like a speakeasy or classic Vegas lounge, and the DJs spin everything from Sinatra to the Stones.

Cover is $10 or $75 per person for VIP which includes automatic entry, a reserved table and your bar tab up to that amount.

5574 Melrose Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90038
(323) 465-4242
Cross Street: Gower Street
$10 or $75 VIP

Burlesque Nights at the Derby
Apparently the Derby, made famous by Swingers, has Burlesque Nights on Mondays in their upstairs room, The Fold. No cover, cheap beer and hot dames. This coming Monday the 17th is “Blue Collar Burlesque.” I don’t have any idea what that means but it sounds scary. Hopefully it’s just dancers dressed as blue collar workers and not the other way around. In any case, with dancers named “Vivian Danger” and “Cherry Popsicle” you can’t go wrong.

4500 Los Feliz Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 663-8979
No cover

Jumbo’s Clown Room
This club’s claim to fame is “Courtney Love stripped here.” I always wanted to check it out but no one wants to go with me! This makes me wonder if this is more strip than tease, but LA.com writes:

Jumbo’s strip shows embody more of the spirit of burlesque than its counterparts in Hollywood and further west, with feisty dancers full of personality. Also known for its occasional live music and less-than-supermodel-quality strippers, Jumbo’s is the date place you suggest as a joke, but then wind up actually enjoying.

But then the review ends with “Tip: No touching.” Hmm.

5153 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90027
(323) 666-1187
Cross Street: Wynona
Two-drink minimum