Hey, Mister Pinstripe Suit! Are you ready to kick up your fee, sit back and relax over a scintillating brunch extravaganza? Twisted Knickers Burlesque has just the set for you if you’re looking for a swanky way to spend a Saturday or Sunday morning out on the town while taking in some high-class performance art. Appearing with Baltimore’s very own tin-pan alley style band, Tongue In Cheek, at Germano’s Piattini the saucy styles of Twisted Knickers Burlesque will razzle you, dazzle you, and having your rouging your knees and rolling your stockings down before the afternoon gets well underway! In true ragtime and jazz era fashion, the burlesque routines are met with snazzy musical selections that harken back to a simpler time: a time when everything was swingin’, jazzin’, and rag.
Host and troupe Emcee Hot Todd Lincoln brings forth his usual deadpan persona that in its own right is cheeky and charming. Not to be forgotten, his punning nature gets the best of groans once he starts improvising and feeding off the audience during his hosting duties. Falling in step with the era of jazz, ragtime, and big band, Hot Todd Lincoln even makes a beautiful segue into the notion of Side Show popularity from the time. This allows him to invite an audience member or two to the center of the performance space— nestled cozily in the upstairs dining retreat of Germano’s— to assist him in one of his performance spectacles. A connoisseur of Side-Show performance type routines, he pulls out the iconic “Escape a Straight Jacket” routine, performing it to music provided by Tongue In Cheek, wowing the audience with his daring escape.
Tongue In Cheek, with their dapper sense of style and unique sound, set up in a nook just behind the central performance space. Featuring Vocalist Bridget Cimino, violinist Matt Andrews, Trumpeter Steven Cunningham, Tubist Ed Goldstein, Banjoist Zach Serleth, and Nick Stevens on percussion, Tongue In Cheek presented an musical array of songs both between burlesque performance routines and during the dances. Opening the house with a little ditty called “Boogaloo Strut”, the band set the tone for the afternoon’s activities with the Goldstein and Cunningham bumping along through the tune as a toe-tapping treat. Featuring tunes like “Baltimore” and “Strutting with Some BBQ”— both instrumental tunes with the latter being written by Luois Armstrong’s wife, Lil Hardin— the band showcased their tin-pin alley tune-type and really got the audience engaged in their style. Other numbers, like “Egyptian Ella” and “Nobody But Me” featured the bright and brassy vocals of Bridget Cimino, who rounded out the group’s sound in a way true to the times.
Troupe Producer Tapitha Kix was having herself a grand ol’ time being the first burlesque performance of the afternoon. With her signature tap board in place, she took to performing a teasing tap-dance routine while Tongue In Cheek played “Tiger Rag.” With a spangle-covered costume that calls attention to the era of vaudeville and the glistening golden era of Burlesque, Tapitha Kix wowed the audience with her finesse and form when it comes to tapping. Adding a delightful surprise to the energetic and enthusiastic strip tease; Kix even popped out tiger ears and a teasing tiger tail during the routine. The look was even polished off with elegant black pantyhose that had feline fur pattern printing lined into the material.
Appearing later in the afternoon with a time-tested, tried and true routine, Kix regaled the audience with her duet number— a smoldering duo dance with Donatello, the blue-suit-jacket wearing coatrack. Upgraded in shiny silver, Donatello moves gracefully with Kix throughout the routine, anthropomorphized into a believable and palpable character. Kix works cheeky and playful moments into the dance routine; she insists Donatello help her unzip pieces of her costume but not watch her as she undresses. The whole performance was set to “After You’ve Gone”, featuring once more the smooth vocal stylings of Bridget Cimino. Tongue In Cheek put a sensual seductive speed to the routine, which allowed Tapitha Kix and Donatello to live up the highlife all through their dance. And Tapitha Kix’ signature color for the routine? Blue, of course!
When you’ve trouble sleeping, the old saying goes to count your blessings instead of sheep. But in Mourna Handful’s case, she’s the sheepish blessing that everyone’s been dreaming of! Performing her first routine to a sultry rendition of “Dream a Little Dream of Me”, wherein Cimino put her vocal prowess to the test once more, Mourna Handful graced the audience with sensual moves, a costume to die for, and a personality that was deliciously dreamy. Looking like a Hollywood starlight from the golden era of Tinseltown, Mourna Handful’s gown, is a classic black and white affair with a black lace mermaid-style tail flaring out at the bottom, but upon closer inspection, the fabric of the gown itself is fluffy and not unlike the wool of a sheep. Topped with a decadent hat, Mourna Handful used this prop to play coy with the audience and made her strip-tease the sweetest vision of your nightly dreams.
Appearing later in the show with an even more scintillating look, if one can imagine such a thing, Mourna Handful proved that it don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that swing. Or shimmy. Or bump and grind. Etc. With the band bumping along to “Don’t Mean a Thing”, Mourna Handful dazzled the audience in her brilliant outfit studded with dripping sequins. Topping off the look, she included a glistening hair jewelry accessory that shined almost as brightly as her vibrant personality during the strip tease. With a full tassel shimmy at the routine’s conclusion, Mourna Handful provided the intent behind selecting this swing standard as her performance music.
The resident temptress in a teacup, Tempete La Coeur, captured in essence the epitome of the golden and gilded age of burlesque, Broadway, vaudeville, and Hollywood all in one fell swoop when she slipped out into the performance space for her first routine. Set to “Lover Come Back to Me”, a burbling bluesy jazz standard, Tempete La Coeur played with her color scheme as much as she did her performance tactics in the routine. With roses a plenty, she approached her performance in a demure fashion, using a flash-and-tease series of moves to slowly cook up the temptation of her number. Looking every bit a picture of the era come to life, Tempete La Coeur works the audience with a charming smile, a sinfully playful personality, and a delectable series of moves to show off her final look.
Playing readily with the audience in her second appearance, and reminding folks that sometimes you just have to “let it go”, Tempete La Coeur brought another stunning outfit to the stage. Equally as stylized to the music as her first sartorial ensemble, she sashayed around the room in her Princess of Hollywood black and white affair. Engaging the audience to partake in the tasteful tease, Tempete La Coeur even had various participants pull off her gloves, an immersive and thrilling experience if there ever was one! Not afraid to play all around the wide-spread tables of the upstairs spacing, she worked her way flirtatiously among all in attendance so that everyone felt included in her routine.
Arriving with a case of the “Basin Street Blues”, Cherie Sweetbottom steps onto the stage and looks as if she’s stepped clean out of a time machine from the jazz era sweeping New Orleans. With her vivaciously vibrant colors and incorporation of her ravishing feathered fans, Cherie Sweetbottom shows off her style with moxie and class. Utilizing the fans on and off throughout her routine, they become a secondary focus only to her incredibly blinding smile, which is so bright and delivered in earnest that you become spellbound by the joy she’s radiating. Playing the blues with a proper shimmy in her physique, Cherie Sweetbottom wins over the hearts of everyone in the audience, whether they’ve ever had a case of the blues or not!
Feathers are featured in Cherie Sweetbottom’s second act as well, though it’s a grandiose black feather boa that steals the thunder this time around. Always in our hearts with her stunning smile, this darling dancer performs to “Rosetta” and again channels the spirit of the era divinely. The most impressive thing about her routine this time around isn’t just the stellar costume, her sensually sweet smile, or even the strip tease that is threaded into her movements, but rather her dancing. Channeling iconic moves that everyone recognizes from the time— including the waggling finger and kick-back leg swing— Cherie Sweetbottom enlivens the era with her free spirit and transports the audience to a different time and place with her thoughtful and racy tease.
Keeping everything in order, Dirk Hamfist— who can’t be called a Stage Kitten, though he was essentially kittening the show— aided and assisted the ladies between routines, getting props set and cleared to ensure a smooth and safe series of performances that kept everyone happy.
If you missed this brunch, worry not as another one is coming quickly down the pipes in May! Be on the lookout for the ticket link, which will be coming to a Facebook event page near you very, very soon!
Twisted Knickers Burlesque Brunch with Tongue In Cheek will be happening again on Sunday May 7, 2017 at Germano’s Piattini located in the heart of Baltimore’s Little Italy— 300 S. High Street. Tickets will be available soon for purchase!
To see what’s happening at Germano’s Piattini, visit their website.
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