Folks were waiting outside Guido’s Bar & Grill on Saturday night when I showed up at 7:55 for the 9 p.m. show. More people were waiting inside by the front desk when I stepped inside to show my ticket and receive my wrist band. Even more people were inside at the bar. The doors opened to Guido’s basement party space about 10 minutes later, and I followed the crowd down the metal stairs. As one of the only solo flyers at the event, I was able to grab a one-person table right off stage. Thirst and a full bar soon led me to venture off for a gin and tonic. I barely made it a few steps when my table was snatched up. This was going to be a packed house.
Carnivále Debauche is a troupe of burlesque dancers and vaudeville performers that has been performing in C-U since March 2010. Their Facebook page gives an apt description of the troupe as “strange and sexy creatures of the night.” Nerdlesque featured the strange and sexy Bettie Leigh, Drusilla Delacroix, Lady Ly, Magic Miss Elle, Jeto Gingersnaps, and Neonium. The event celebrated all things nerdy by representing various fandoms in each performance.
Many in the crowd embraced the nerdy theme and wore cosplay items, from witch hats to light up skirts to Batman jammies (complete with cape) to Hufflepuff ties. Many others represented the burlesque nature of the show and wore their club gear, from fishnets to stiletto heels to bootie shorts to exposed corsets (yours truly). Hair color included a vibrant rainbow ranging from blue to pink to turquoise to green. Still others came dressed in their regular street clothes, though everyone came to have a good time. The energy before the show was palpable and did not relent for the two-hour event.
Before the show, a mix of classic rock and punk music was laced with common nerd themes like John Williams’ “Hedwig’s Theme” and Howard Shore’s “Concerning Hobbits.” The performers intermingled with the crowd, so that when Drusilla Delacroix, Lady Ly, and Bettie Leigh kicked off the night with a dance to K-Face Rules’ “Talk Nerdy to Me,” they seemed to just mysteriously bleed out of the crowd onto the stage.
When Neonium performed a Matrix-themed set with a glowing levitation stick, dollar bills started raining on the stage. Volunteers cleaned up any stray bills from the stage after each performance and walked through the crowd to collect money from satisfied fans.
After this was the first of five intermissions, my only complaint of the evening. The show stopped for an intermission every 15-20 minutes after two or three performances. The need is understandable — costumes needs to be changed and props need to be reset. Most of the crowd didn’t seem to share my concern with the many interruptions to the show. The time was spent refilling drinks at the bar, visiting the restroom, and mingling with other groups.
Some of my favorite sets of the night were the Magic Miss Elle’s and Lady Ly’s more classic burlesque performances. Miss Elle represented Settlers of Catan in an excellent set that had her slowly removing hexagons from in front of her body. Lady Ly was Poison Ivy from Batman and a very memorable Pink Panther.
The crowd was enamored with Drusilla Delacroix’s two superhero themed performances, especially her performance as Loki in 10-inch pleasers (the platform shoe most often worn by pole dancers) that literally brought the crowd to its knees. Bettie Leigh was another crowd favorite, emerging in costume as the Dungeon & Dragons monster Beholder and as Jodie Whittaker’s recent rendition of Doctor Who.
The real show stopper was Jeto Ginersnaps’ performance as Deadpool. She awoke on the ground, covered in trash and surrounded by condom balloons. The spirit of Deadpool’s irreverent comedy filled her performance, and she ended the scene wearing a mask, a kitten t-shirt, Deadpool briefs, and a rainbow tutu while waiving a pansexual pride flag.
Carnivále Debauche provided a high-energy, crowd-pleasing celebration of all things nerdy. They truly live up to their strange and sexy claims. Follow them on Facebook @carnivaldebauche to stay up-to-date on their latest performances.
Photos by Candie Kates Photography
*Editor’s Note: Some of the performers were initially indentified incorrectly. They have now been corrected.