Home USA News “Tell me please” is an entertaining evening of burlesque and sexuality

“Tell me please” is an entertaining evening of burlesque and sexuality


Then the performances really began. There were quite a few numbers, each one different from the last: a legendary religious-themed performance by a burlesque veteran Tiger!dancing in a pink dress Witch tulipserotic poetry Nora Ozstuffy Audrey Love wearing leather, and energetic Mercy of Massal dress half-naked. Action descriptions do not do justice to the performers. All performances ended with less clothes than before and with great joy.

During the intermissions, I watched a few dozen people participate in small introductions to certain hink acts, such as shibari, sensational play, spanking or flogging. Various audience members trying shibari had to tie the ropes tightly around their torsos with a dominatrix—not a bad deal for $20.

“Say Please” wasn’t just a demo, but rather a production — and it’s not a first for Wink and A Smile, either. Three years ago, before the pandemic, they did similar shows. Both women graduated from the New York School of Burlesque with theater experience. Other team members have technical expertise, making this a production rather than a static demo. The environment itself was also quite familiar and comfortable. There were many people who seemed to know each other greeting each other and hugging like friends — these overlapping burlesque and BDSM communities have emerged to support each other.

As for me, I sat in my seat almost the entire time. I can attribute most of my interactional hesitancy to introversion, anxiety, and feeling down. But even then I was more comfortable than in some places before. Watching people casually talk in nothing but their underwear was a new experience for me—and I couldn’t figure out why I felt the slight urge to back off until the show was over.

It was a shame-free environment, I realized. And it is fair.

I am not a person who feels shame about my sexuality or its manifestations. At least not anymore. I grew up in a big southern city, and my sex education was basically “get a test and wear a condom or don’t have sex at all.” We learned about genitalia and reproduction—even at the age of 11—but anything around masturbation, using toys, testing consent, being weird or disabled… not so much.

I believe in open communication about sex, in answering intelligent questions, and in research. I was one of those people who used the Internet excessively for this content because there was a strong stigma around sexual acts and identity. While the Internet is awesome for finding “Do I like X or Y?” or “What is Z?” it’s getting to the point where people need to go out and get the experience. Instead of a bar or a club, there are events and places where people are trying to be safe in their sexuality – just look before you go to one.

“If you want it, it’s there, especially in New York,” Rita said.

There are also shows and venues for 18+ rather than 21+, though it takes a bit more effort to find them.

“There are workshops and classes [and online resources] available to anyone over 18, said Lady Harper, a professional dominatrix I spoke to. “There are no such things in bars with alcohol. It’s basically an entry point.”

Harper and I talked about why she got into the stage after learning about burlesque and kink and why she turned pro.

“[I’ve been a] professional dominatrix for just over a year, but I’ve been living a strange lifestyle… six or seven?” she said. “When I discovered that there was a community around kink, BDSM and consent, and workshops, classes and events for people to learn about kink and how to interact with each other in erotic ways, but how to communicate it, I became very interested in it . Then I wanted to become a provider of this experience, this service.”

Ultimately, Harper stressed that potential workshops and shows need to come from a place of safety, and like every performer I spoke with at the event, reiterated that safety, inclusivity, and consent are not optional.

Sex can be a stigmatized, polarizing topic. There are things you feel about yourself that you can do with yourself and your sensuality. Then there’s a whole other world of sharing that experience with another person. Sex is sensual and amazing, but society often makes it dirty or taboo. I felt safe and not being forced to see anything, and everyone I saw being touched agreed to these physical pleasures.

I’ll leave it to your imagination—even if you have an active imagination, I don’t think you can imagine what Madame and Rita might want to show you. Wink and A Smile’s next show is December 1st Sip, STRIP and Sketch event at the Brooklyn Art Cave. Tickets are $25 and include a drink to enjoy while you paint and watch, making this a 21+ only event.

Editor’s Note: Some performers’ faces have been blurred to protect their identities.

Contact Shay Jones at [email protected]

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