If you haven’t tuned in Fridays at 9p and seen Garo and his tireless team whip up fabulous, fearless (and sometimes downright insane) costumes and gowns for his clients, honestly, you’re missing out. Get into the spirit of things and check out Garo’s favorite burlesque stars, goth girls and drag queens…
Watch UNLEASHED BY GARO every Friday at 9P.
There’s no way Garo could pull off his extreme and outrageous designs (working, flapping wings, anyone?) without an incredibly talented team. In fact, they’re such a hardworking bunch that even though Garo’s assistant, Sequinette, has been on tour in South America, she still managed to work a quick interview into her busy performance schedule so we could get to know one of the unsung heroes at Garo’s studio.
Situated on a very sexy Manhattan corner on Fifth Avenue in the 20s, the Museum of Sex is a handy one-stop-shopping place for libidinal learning, as I found out last year when I was able to pose there in front of a giant slide of bears copulating, as opening night guests were graciously allowed to do. (I still have the photo! I’m gonna make it my screensaver!)
This is my kind of museum—one where eroticism, art, and commerce collide to make for some of the city’s most entertaining and informative displays. And the other night, it was a whole new opening with all new poses available. The exhibit “The Nudie Artist: Burlesque Revived” premiered to a glittery group of multigender ambisexuals, all dolled up in their finery to look at other people taking theirs off.
Behind the Burly Q, a look back at the glory days of burlesque from writer/director/producer Leslie Zemeckis, fascinatingly strips away at the myths surrounding the most popular American entertainment form of the first half of the 20th century. On the eve of the documentary opening in New York on April 23 en route to other cities, I phoned Leslie (whose husband, Robert Zemeckis of Forrest Gump fame, executive produced the doc) for some burly talk.
MM: Hi, Leslie. How was Behind the Burly Q born?
LZ: I’m an actress and did a show that had elements of burlesque in it. I started to research it and realized no one had done a comprehensive documentary about burlesque, told by the performers. I thought, ‘I’ve got to record this for posterity.’
MM: When you interviewed the former strippers—many of them now in their 80s–did some of them start re-enacting their old competitive patterns?
LZ: Not really. But some wanted to strip again! I thought, ‘I’m not sure where you’re gonna find a job, but God bless you.’ For a lot of them, it was the high time of their life and they wanted to recreate that.
Nightclub-going New Yorkers owe a giant, heartfelt shout out to Rudy Giuliani. We should belatedly thank Rudy for his crackdown on “smut” and anything else that veered from traditional family values when he was a strict, disciplinarian mayor from 1994 through 2001. After all, it was that very gloss-over that led to an explosion of neo-burlesque sexual posturing in clubs all over town!
As porn shops were shuttered and escorts were driven to the Internet, loft parties and underground boites responded with strippers and other acts catering to everyone’s sex drives by turning genital-related amusement into performance art. For every sex palace that was bulldozed and reopened as a comedy club, there were suddenly a dozen ecdysiasts popping up at the Lower East Side’s hangout the Slipper Room and artful disrobers like Julie Atlas Muz and Dirty Martini were shaking their tatas for applause and dollars all over town. Thanks, Rudy!
But here’s the really shocking thing: In 2010, neo-burlesque still rules the scene.