Cluckin’ A! It’s that time of year when the feathers are flying, the dancers are free-range, and the most happening show in town hit Hampden with wings a flappin’ as Twisted Knickers Burlesque ruled the roost with their one-night feathery extravaganza: Poultry in Motion: A Burlesque Most Fowl! Produced by troupe leader Tapitha Kix and featuring the return of two of the original founding members of TKB, there was a feather for everyone’s cap! Dancing! Burlesque! Sideshow! And even a little cocktail lesson in time for the holiday!
TKB host Hot Todd Lincoln donned his toque and white chef’s apron to kick things off and before the egg could crack he was feathering the nest with poultry puns aplenty. A true punster, Lincoln kept the house abreast of each performer before they hatched into their routines and even got to showing off his side-show ability at the midway point of the performance. Performing his classic rope bind-and-escape stunt, Lincoln wowed the audience to the tune of “Ghost Chickens in the Sky” and escaped with finesse from the ropes in record time. Assisted throughout the evening by stage kittens Spanky Roundbottom and Ruby Spruce, Lincoln’s ad-libs between the performance numbers didn’t ruffle any feathers and kept the show well under wing. There was even some delightful audience participation which involved a feathered-boa dance-off, and a holiday special cocktail mixer demonstration by the show’s producer, Tapitha Kix, featuring “The Gobbler” a Thanksgiving cocktail blended with vodka, cranberry juice, and of course, turkey gravy.
Though she was a struttin’ stage kitten in the second act, Ruby Spruce opened the show with a wild and wonderful ‘Super Girl’ routine. Appearing as the hero America needs and deserves, Spruce’s costume was on-point but not without its feathery surprises. Strutting her funky stuff, in addition to her breath-taking stature, Spruce revealed her inner chicken in a scintillating fashion. Complete with sunny-side up pasties and some well-placed avian-inspired movement— including a few head bobs and wing-flaps with her arms— Spruce rocked out her inner bird to “Chicken Switch” and made the routine as titillating as she did amusing.
Immediately following the chicken routine, Tapitha Kix wowed the audience with her Baltimore Bird approach, appearing in a fantastical and feathered outfit of shocking flamingo pink. Under the impression that the dance was the ‘Flamingo’ and not the ‘Flamenco’, which quickly became an adorable comic bit between her and Hot Todd Lincoln, Kix played into the melancholy of the misunderstanding for a moment before blowing the audience away with her sassy and sensational dance work. The Flamenco Flamingo or Flamingo Flamenco, take your pick here, was astonishing, showcasing Kix’ natural dancer ability in both tap and flamenco. Revealing pink feather pasties by the end of the routine, the whole crowd was blown away on the wings of the pink flamingo routine by the time all was said and done.
Taking hold of another iconic Baltimore Bird, Bunny Vishus followed Kix’ routine with her own Charm City caw— the caw of the orange and black Oriole! Making sports look sexy in a way one can only dream of, Vishus worked her orange prop bat in a frenzied fashion, much to the pleasure of the audience. Her clever colorization of undergarments for her big reveal was an extra treat for any true Baltimore baseball fans in the house, and the use of her Oriole’s ball cap as a thoroughly threaded prop was an extra-special delight. The bonus was the glitzy black Oriole feather tail, which was in perfect opposition to the bright orange thong and baseball pasties to complete the home-team couture.
The burlesque number that closed the first act was the one that answered the age-old question of which came first, the chicken or the egg? Cherie Nuit burst onto the scene, cued to “Born to Run” appearing in an egg suit which had the audience doubling over in sensual giggles as she cracked her shell and peeled out of it. Surging with the energy of a marathon runner and never slowing down, Nuit showcased some fancy footwork running in place and jogging back and forth throughout the duration of her number. Clever with her costuming, the ‘runner pinnie’ was number ‘663’ which when she flipped it over, spelled out ‘egg.’ Never one to disappoint when it comes to big finishes, Nuit revealed sunny-side up glitter pasties and a cracked-yolk ribbon streamer for a fully-loaded eggs-perience!
The stunning Lula Houp-Garou kicked off the second act with an unforgettable avian moment that was both brilliant and a nod of homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. Tippi Hedren never looked so sexy being chased by those menacing feathered fowls than when Lula slid out onto stage in that fashionable green ensemble. In addition to the overall sex appeal to a burlesque routine— and this one in particular was last performed at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Movers, Shakers & Innovators show in 2012— Lula’s performance included a dazzling display of aerobic finesse and athletic prowess. Hula-hooping birds while seductively stripping was indeed a mind-blowing experience and quite the fascinating hybrid to encounter.
Swooping in as a bird of paradise with her second act of the evening, Bunny Vishus brought the classic feather-fan play into her routine, which she performed to “The Mooche.” Sensual and languid in the way she incorporated the peacock feather-fans against her gold-chain drip outfit, Vishus worked the crowd into a frenzy before really opening up her bag of tricks, which included a headstand stocking strip. (Yes, that’s exactly as it sounds, a headstand which involved sensually removing her stockings whilst in the headstand.) Completing the amazing routine with a full-floor split, Vishus had the audience flapping their wings for more before all was said and done.
Drawing iconic musical theatre into the mix, Spanky Roundbottom— who served as a delectable stage kitten in the first half of the show— sashayed onto the floor to Chicago’s “When You’re Good to Mama.” In a fully fabulous feathered skirt and fitted corset, Roundbottom worked her way all through the audience, unafraid to play with anyone close to her. Peppering everyone’s ragú, as the song says, Roundbottom was indeed proving to everyone watching just how good mama can be to you!
One cracked egg wasn’t enough for Cherie Nuit, so she had to go full chicken in the second half of the evening, appearing in a sizzling and smoking cowgirl outfit, fully ready to devour KFC chicken. Nothing says American pride than BBQ chicken and Nuit did not shy away from the stereotype. Working the chair fully in her routine, she showcased her all-American pride with the spangly red white and blue bra and matching bikini. But the highlight of her performance to “Holler if You’re With Me” was the BBQ sauce at the end; a signature feature of many of Nuit’s routines, involving sensual, seductive, sloppy messes.
No finer way to conclude an evening of feathery fantasy than with the return of an originating Twisted Knickers’ member, Stella Sweet took to the stage in a dual routine with Tapitha Kix. Performing a highly evocative and intensely well-executed can-can and tap routine to “I Can (Can You?)”, the girls performed 96 kicks throughout the course of the number and successfully and sensually stripped down to their pasties all the while through. A truly epic conclusion, the routine was received to thunderous applause and made for the perfect ending to Poultry in Motion: A Burlesque Most Fowl.
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