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Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Pontani Sisters Bring Burlesque

The world of burlesque is booming. NY1's Stephanie Simon filed the following report on the revival of this unique genre of performing arts.

Variety shows, like the one at Corio in SoHo, are reviving the brazen, bawdy world of burlesque. One of the many popular neo-burlesque shows that have popped up in the city in recent years is Angie Pontani and the Pontani sisters in "This is Burlesque."

"So everything in this show harkens back to the golden age of the burlesque artist," said Pontani. "So we have strip tease artists that are a lot of class and sass. We have variety artists like tap dancers. We have our host, Murray Hill, who is a funny, slapstick-comedy guy."

There is a comedic take on the strip tease – and nearly-naked tassel twirling.

Pontani originally wanted to be an actress, but thought it just was not glamorous enough for her.

"I was like, well I don't to be an actress because they don't get to wear head dresses and like rhinestone costumes, so that was unfulfilling for me," she said.

Fellow burlesque performer and burlesque expert Lynn Sally explained that burlesque in New York City dates back to the 1860s, with theater-length shows that parodied classical texts.

"The one thing that still remains today that was true in the 19th century is that burlesque is about parody," said Sally. "It is about poking fun and making fun of not only yourself, but also the larger social order."

Sally, who has a PhD in performance studies, says the burlesque revival started in the 1990s after Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's crackdown on strip clubs. But, she says the revival also sprung as a reaction to the grunge movement.

"A desire to return to glamour, because it's fun and it's also a representation of self that for a lot of people is a little more interesting than a baggy pair of jeans and a t-shirt," Sally said.

A burlesque show like Potani's attracts a diverse crowd.

"It's great fun," said one attendee, who happens to be a grandparent. "The girls are good to look at. They are talented and I wish I was their age."

"It's awesome," said another show attendee. "The girls are awesome."

"I love it," said a third. "It totally turned me straight. The girls are so beautiful. It's like a dream."

Fans say any way you dress it up – or undress it – burlesque is guaranteed fun.

For more information on Corio, which is on the corner of West Broadway and Grand Street in SoHo, go to ThisIsBurlesque or CorioNYC.

For details on Angie Pontani and the Pontani Sisters, go to Pontani

Finally, to learn more about Lynn Sally, go to or

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