In the spirit of the original burlesque troupes, The Bottom Line Burlesque & Comedy Troupe’s performances consist of a lot of music, a bit of dancing, some comedy, and a little bit of striptease, but The Bottom Line takes it one step further and gives back to the community with every performance. On Saturday night, July 11th, the Hillsborough, NC troupe’s performance of The Cleanest Dirty Fun You Will Ever Have at Common Ground Theatre in Durham helped to raise funds for the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders (UNC CEED), an organization that provides support and rehabilitation services for those suffering various eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia, and body dysmorphia. (Note: To make a gift to UNC CEED, click here.)
The audience was introduced to the troupe as they venture onstage to the music of the “Peter Gunn Theme,” each of the members dressed in robes covering their bustiers. Each one tiptoes out onstage, carrying a piece of the stage props utilized for the show.
The opening was the prologue, a bookend for the acts and was repeated in the epilogue as the performers end their night in their robes, talking about being tired after their show. These bookend acts gave the audience members a bit of insight into what makes the event come to fruition and provided an opportunity for each of the troupe members to show a bit of their personalities.
The show officially opens with chanteuse Fifi L’Amour, a vocalist with gospel and jazz roots, singing “Comes A Rainstorm” as Hurricane Velvet dances, giving the audience a peek at the raciest moment of the show when Hurricane removes her bustier to show a glimpse of pasties. However, that’s not what this troupe focused on; instead, the bulk of the performance perfectly underlined the reason for the event.
Each of the female performers embodied the belief that accepting your own body image creates a healthy sense of self-confidence, which is exactly what the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders hopes will be the result of the education that UNC CEED offers the general public.
The Bottom Line troupe’s 11 performers include chanteuses, jugglers, comedians, baton twirlers, pianists, and temptresses, all of whom appear to have a raucous good time as they treat the audience to the “Cleanest Dirty Fun You Will Ever Have.”
Ruby Martini, the troupe’s founder and creative director, knows how to get the audience involved in the night’s activities, urging them to “get your sexy on” as she instructs everyone how to determine their burlesque name, then leads a small group of volunteers through one of their routines.
The audience snickered as they shared their burlesque names. Ruby called on some to publicly declare their burlesque names, bringing the full theater to the point of hilarity. One thing was for sure: everyone in the audience at Common Ground Theatre enjoyed the music, the jokes, and the often hilariously botched juggling routines; and everyone dug deep into their pockets to purchase raffle tickets for the sexy gift baskets that they could win if the right ticket was called.
The all-volunteer troupe is both sweet and sassy. Members are mothers, grandmothers, sisters, bosses; and all are curvy, some are shy, others are bawdy, and each is more than willing to let it all hang out in the interest of raising funds for a worthy cause. Burlesque performers must be multitalented, willing to bump and grind, sing cabaret songs, kick up a leg, jiggle a bit, wear costumes that reveal more than your average street clothes, and celebrate the genre that originally made fun of the upper class by aping highbrow entertainment like opera and theater, and keeping the audience’s attention by parading scantily clad women across the stage.
The Bottom Line’s repertoire includes songs from the stage plays Cabaret and Sweet Charity, but it also includes some more contemporary music, such as “Someone to Love Me,” sung by chanteuse Ella Vator in a raspy, breathless voice appropriate for both the song and the show. Ella’s life previous to The Bottom Line included stints as a lead singer in several bands, as well as a career as a city planner; but she seems at home in her latest role, singing smokily for her supper with this troupe.
One of the pleasures of seeing a performance like this one is to realize that nothing is supposed to be perfect, a factor underlined by the reason for the event. Each of the women and men (Hottie Scottie — listed in the program as a “juggler, performer, and all-round lucky guy” — and Sexy Doc Sexy, a “purveyor of pianist envy”) accepts themselves as they are, embracing the talents that they have, whether it is juggling, singing, dancing, or just grinding his/her hips to the music. The troupe aligns with nonprofit groups each time they perform, so the act is never gratis but always brings the community together “through song, dance, performance, and comedy.”
Common Ground Theatre’s summer schedule is full of theatrical events. The Bottom Line’s upcoming shows are listed on their Facebook page. If you get a chance, follow them and help them raise funds for the nonprofits with whom they align.
THE CLEANEST DIRTY FUN YOU WILL EVER HAVE (The Bottom Line Burlesque & Comedy Troupe, July 11 at Common Ground Theatre in Durham).
SHOW: https://www.facebook.com/events/841117182629321/, http://uncexchanges.org/2015/07/12/bottom-line-troupe-performs-for-ceed-benefit/, and http://www.cgtheatre.com/events.
VENUE: http://www.cgtheatre.com/, https://www.facebook.com/cgtheatre, and https://twitter.com/CGTheatre919.
UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders (fundraising recipient): http://www.med.unc.edu/psych/eatingdisorders/ (official website), http://uncexchanges.org/ (blog), http://www.med.unc.edu/psych/eatingdisorders/make-a-gift-to-the-program (make-a-gift page), https://www.facebook.com/unceatingdisorders (Facebook page), and https://twitter.com/uncceed (Twitter page).
[RUN HAS CONCLUDED.]
Dawn Reno Langley is a Durham, NC-based author who writes novels, poetry, children’s books, and nonfiction books on many subjects, as well as theater, music, and dance reviews. She is also a writer, editor, writing coach at Reno’s Literary Services of Durham. To read all of Dawn Langley’s Triangle Review reviews online at Triangle Arts and Entertainment, click https://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/dawn-reno-langle/. To read more of her writings, click http://dawnrenolangley.blogspot.com/ and http://poetryandgardening.blogspot.com/.