Bushwick’s reputation as a artistic boob haven is about to get another boost this Sunday: Brooklyn’s favorite titty-bar is going to put on a variety show featuring the very best of New York’s burlesque and vocal talent, Pumps employees.
Spank Sinatra, Ivy Nyx and Reina Williams will be kicking off the evening with live music from 7-8PM and will be followed by at least sixteen acts put together entirely by Pumps employees, many of whom are performance artists outside the venue.
The effect of the burlesque scene on New York’s strip clubs has been noticeable in the last few years. Well-known burlesque performers, such as Madame Rosebud, have produced shows at Scores and Penthouse in Manhattan. Unfortunately, some strip club owners have tried to posture as a “burlesque venue” as a gimmick to bring in new clientele or work their way around zoning restrictions.
But both the owner of the club, the performers and the producers promise that this is not the case with Pumps, which has held multiple burlesque shows in the recent years, including Pumped Up: Bacchanalia at Pumps (an art event/burlesque hybrid that featured multiple local artists and live singing).
To Dallas, one of the co-producers of the event who also works in theater, having a show at Pumps provides a lot of artistic freedom that she might not get in even the most transgressive productions of New York City. When it comes to combining sex work (i.e. stripping) with performance art, she believes Pumps is in a unique position to allow performers to do their acts without feeling restricted. “This line is very blurry for the rest of theater. What we can do (at Pumps) is we can cross that line. We can do so much more here than I would ever be able to do with any of the other projects that I’m working on.”
Or as one Pumps dancer, Ruby, put it, “the thing about doing stuff here is that we don’t have to do the pasties if we don’t feel like it.” Ruby, whose favorite video game is Eternal Darkness: Vanity’s Requiem, will be performing an act that will feature horror and monster movie elements, “I’m doing my own take on little red riding hood. A creepy, gory take.”
Shanley, another producer with a theater background who will also be performing this Sunday, began her burlesque career in Colorado. She felt that the scene there was too traditional and decided to move to New York in search of more exploratory performers and open audience. You will never guess where she found what she was looking for: “we started doing the shows at Pumps where it was less like the formulaic burlesque and we got to fuck with things and do things a little bit differently.”
Andy (last name not given), the owner of the club who expects to make less money putting on this show as he would on a normal Sunday, sees this as an opportunity to support the careers of the women who work for him, “I try to give everybody a leg up. I got a leg up when I started this business. That’s what it’s about: paying it forward. Ninety-nine percent of the girls here are all really nice, super-talented, awesome people that are all going to be something someday.”
This Sunday, we all have the chance to help them reach that level a little faster.
As an additional reason to show your support this Sunday: 10% of the door covers, the bar tips, and the performers tips will be donated to the Persist Health Project, an affiliate with the Red Umbrella Project, both of which help protect and support the lives of sex workers in the New York area.
Girls! Girls! Girls!, A Pumps Pin UP Variety Show, Pumps, 1089 Grand St., East Williamsburg, Sunday, May 17, 2015, 7PM, $20, RSVP on Facebook here.