The Slipper Room Players Release Their Debut Feature Film Tomorrow

SlipperRoom Cruel Tale

The burlesque performance art team at The Slipper Room (a.k.a. The Slipper Room Players) are officially releasing their debut film, The Cruel Tale of the Medicine Man, online tomorrow, Sat., Oct. 15th.  It won Best Feature at the Coney Island Film Festival in 2015. They write:

This dark, storybook fairy tale is a genre-defying mixture of comedy, horror, sex, fantasy, freak show, dream and cartoon. On top of that, it’s loaded with underground (and some mainstream) marquee names: Mat Fraser (from American Horror Story: Freak Show), his wife, the burlesque performer and choreographer Julie Atlas Muz, Slipper Room founder and Artistic Director James Habacker (who wrote and directed), Mistress of the New York School of Burlesque, Jo Weldon, and an impressive list of downtown New York performers, musicians, and artists such as Stormy Leather, Joe Coleman, and Bunny Love.

The film is an ensemble piece that showcases much of the talent that lives and works within the orbit of The Slipper Room, the New York City variety theatre that is the birthplace of neo-burlesque. The Cruel Tale of the Medicine Man has the delirious and free attitude that has been the linchpin in New York underground film since the sixties – sophisticated, daring, dirty, heroic, playful, defying category and the expectations of the “market,” essentially giving the finger to anyone who thinks it’s “weird,” even as it entertains the hell out of those willing to go along for the ride.

You can rent The Cruel Tale of the Medicine Man (or buy it) on vimeo here.

Review: Beauty and the Beast Charms and Entices at Abrons

Beauty and the Beast

I went to see Beauty and The Beast yesterday at Abrons Arts Center.  A friend warned me it was “very very very very very raunchy. ” I know, that’s a lot of “verys.” After all, this was a Julie Atlas Muz (Beauty) and Mat Fraser (Beast) production. She of neo-burlesque fame (a former Miss Exotic World). He, a past winner of the UK’s Exotic Award for Best Male Striptease. So my expectations for a Disneyfied PG version (even an R rating) of their interpretation of this classic fairy tale of love and acceptance were low.

Any fears those of us in the audience might have had that we were going to possibly shed a tear for our lovers were quickly extinguished by Muz who early on plainly tells her Beast “there aren’t any fairy tales.” I can’t remember if this took place before or after she had us all join in and bark like dogs.

Was I disappointed? No. Was I surprised? Yes. In fact, I was moved. This Beauty, beautifully decorated in Gothic storybook style, sans shadow puppets, snarly rose bushes and wrought iron gates, was actually a very sweet interpretation. Ok, maybe sweet is not the exact word for it. Muz and Fraser are prolific conceptual and multi-disciplinary performers who have been shocking and delighting audiences around the world with their work, which is always filled with a “subervise lack of political correctness.”

Their milieu usually includes a sideshow style take on feminism, disability and entertainment; this production works in all of those elements (including a few clever moments with puppeteers and prosthetic arms) but it is even more lavish than usual.  I was completely drawn into the world they created, often rooting for the Beast to win over Beauty—at times wondering, each time Beauty spurned Beast’s advances, who was more beastly?

The show starts out with Fraser and Muz facing the audience directly and explaining who they are. Fraser, a British “Thalidomide  baby,” was born with short “seal” like arms (or “small and perfectly deformed arms,” as he calls them)– hence the Beast, and Muz, our Beauty, was just a restless and curious doe eyed American girl from the mid-west’s murder capital of the world, Detroit.

The pair continue in this style throughout the show as they break character to weave in stories about their own true-life fairy tale of how they met and fell in love, with the archetypical story of Beauty and the Beast.

The raunch?  It is there, but it’s sly and playful, from the minute the inevitable attraction to each other begins to the moment they consummate their love for each other. As for the end? Let’s just say, they both enjoy a very “Happy Ending” — in every position imaginable!

Through March 30th // Abrons Arts Center – 466 Grand St. // $35 // 8:00 p.m.