Wasabassco Burlesque Interview: Burlesque Can Be Sexy & Geeky
WARNING: This post contains images that may be NSFW and will result in multiple nergasms.
I am proud to confess that I am a Wasabassco Burlesque groupie. You would be one too if you saw beautiful women perform as your favorite geek characters and take their clothes off. (Plus, it’s probably the closest thing I’ll get to seeing the doctor naked.) You thought you had a nergasm before, you haven’t experienced anything until you’ve seen the ladies of Wasabassco Burlesque in action.
Wasabassco’s name comes from The Wasabi Ass Company, because well.. they’re hot ass. They are based in the NYC, so if you’re ever in the area you have to check out one of their shows. They perform up to 10 times a month and growing each week. I leave every show with a sore throat because the only way I can express how amazing the performances are is by screaming at the top of my lungs.
The reason why I’m such a big fan of Wasabassco is because they are a group of extremely talented and creative performers who just happen to be major geeks. So whether they are performing to a HAL 9000 monologue (yes that actually happened, and yes it was magnificent), or they are performing a traditional burlesque number it will be very, very enjoyable.
I met Doc last year when I interviewed him about The Way Station (that bar with a TARDIS). Doc manages The Way Station and is the producer for Wasabassco Burlesque. He’s also build not one, but two TARDISes. His life is pretty damn awesome. He was nice enough to take the time and answer some interview questions for me.
Interview with Doc Wasabassco:
What is the Wasabassco Burlesque origin story?
In 2004 I was working as an illustrator specializing in cartoon style pin-up girls. My oldest friend Anders Heidel (of The Way Station) was working in PR at the time. One night the phone rang and it was Anders calling to tell me that he’d just arranged for a gallery show of my pin-up art at a local bar/ gallery space. An hour later he called back from a local performance venue to tell me that he’d arranged for us to put on a burlesque show as a publicity stunt for the gallery show. An hour after that he called again to tell me that he’d booked The World Famous Pontani Sisters to headline the first show. He was out on a pub crawl in Brooklyn and he kept making these connections at different bars getting drunker and making more and more deals. The next day we got together and started the sober plans for our first show. The show ended up being bigger than anything anyone else was doing at the time in NYC and we packed the place. It was a huge success and the venue booked us for a second event before the first one was over. The gallery show became an after thought. I’d discovered the thrill of live burlesque, and illustration gradually lost its appeal for me. Anders and I did shows together for a few more months and then he stepped back and I took over the solo producer reins.
What do you do for Wasabassco Burlesque?
I’m the producer of Wasabassco. I handle all of the negotiation with venues, I choose all of the performers who appear in the shows, as well as our support staff. I spend the majority of my time booking the performers for each individual show date. I handle a majority of the promotion and PR, and all of the boring paperwork and expenses. I’m also an MC at the majority of our show, which is the fun part, but I think the most important thing I do is set the tone, and choose the aesthetic for what makes Wasabassco what it is as opposed to any other show.
Have you ever had shows out-of-state or any plans on taking Wasabassco on the road?
We have toured in the past, mostly on the east coast. We’ve performed in Boston, Connecticut, New Jersey, Upstate New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington DC. The problem is that as Wasabassco grows it’s harder to do our style of big show on the road. It’s difficult to shove a handful of people in a van and still deliver the same experience. We’re not a rock band and the fun wears off quickly. I’d prefer to book a multiple night run at a single venue in another city and do it right.
What makes Wasabassco different from other burlesque troupes?
I’m not a performer. A lot of shows are produced by performers and they understandably want to focus the show on themselves or their friends. Since I’m not the star of my own show I get to step back and be objective. I try to produce the show I want to see and hope and one I think an wants to see. Consequently I work with only the best performers and they more than anything I do make the shows what they are.
Did you always have geeky and nerdy acts? Or is it something that gradually made its way into the shows?
That’s a good question. I don’t think we did early on. It wasn’t so much a thing back then that burlesque so strongly tied itself to pop culture. It’s not like it is now where so many new shows are themed around specific movies, TV shows or genres. I’d say it was gradual. GiGi La Femme’s Princess Leia number was one of our first featured geeky numbers, and Nasty’s Tom Baker Dr Who number appeared early on. We’re big Geeks at Wasabassco so i think it was inevitable. One of my favorites was our 6th Anniversary Show where we had a full size TARDIS on stage and all of the hosts regenerated into each other while stripping.
How does Wasabassco mix the right amount of sexy and the right amount geeky into their geek acts?
The key I think is that any geeky act has to first and foremost be a burlesque act. If the underlying routine is a good, smart, sexy burlesque number, then you can layer the geeky costume and references on top. Too often you see geeky burlesque numbers where the performer just gets onstage in a costume and then takes it off. It may make for a good fanboy fantasy but it’s not necessarily good entertainment.
If you were on a deserted island what video game, comic/book, movie and TV show would you bring?
Well I’ve never really played video games, since I’ve never had the free time for it, but I quite liked Sim City from back in the day. It appealed to my sense of organizing things to make them work together. For comic book I’ll take Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier. I’m an old DC fan (or a fan of old DC). The story has all of the nobility of a good story about being a hero, yet all of the social critique the modern age has brought to comics, without falling into hipster bitterness or naivety. And Cooke’s artwork is just stunning. If I get a book too It’d be Night Watch by Terry Pratchett because I’m a huge Sam Vimes fan. Movie is so tough! Raiders of The Lost Ark just beats out The Iron Giant. For TV show I’m taking Classic Star Trek. Highly rewatchable and enough adventure and comedy to keep me entertained, plus Sherry Jackson in her cross your heart overals for those lonely desert island nights.
Wasabassco on the Internet: