While The Simpsons might be one of the most popular television shows ever made, I doubt that most folks have pondered the sexy sides of those beloved characters. It’s a good thing for us that Underground Peepshow performers aren’t most people. With a mixture of bawdy humour, sexy dancing, and spot-on character interpretations, last Saturday’s one-off performance of “We Put the Spring in Springfield: A Simpsons-Themed Burlesque Show” at the Toronto Underground Cinema had the audience cheering with a chorus of well-earned “Woo-hoos!”
Pavlov’s Dogs kicked the night off with a handbell set. Despite a rocky start – deadpanned a group member, “Danny Elfman hates handbells” – the audience joined in on Apu’s “Who Needs the Kwik-E-Mart?” and the vibe was suitably weird and sort of sweet. Handbell have a certain dorky cachet, and the intersection of music nerds and Simpsons nerds created a supportive, if slightly befuddled, crowd. Andrew from Woo Hoo! Classic Simpsons Trivia awarded prizes for encyclopedic Simpsons knowledge, including condoms from The Condom Shack that emcees Alex and Velvet Valhalla promised would “turn your dick yellow like a Simpsons character.” Appealing! Dressed as Otto and Malibu Stacy (both spot-on costumes), Alex and Velvet bantered lightly between performances, making sure first-timers got special recognition and cheering every act.
“We Put the Spring In Springfield” featured a number of newbies, including Delya Hotdamn and Henrietta VIII as a tag-team sexy/schlumpy Patty and Selma (they had LOL-worthy drawn-on leg hairs), KK Darko as Waylon Smithers, and Rosie Rutilus as Professor Frink. Like other Underground Peepshow events, the costumes and props were excellent, and attention to detail was impeccable: Rutilus’s Frink had a blue bow tie on her corset, and Sevvy Skellington’s Cookie “Stay off the west side!” Kwan’s costume was perfect. Duffman (Sky Blew) emerged from a huge can of Duff Beer, and Sideshow Bob (Barely Legal Leelando) transformed his jail cell into a getaway boat.
So, how was the dancing? With fifteen performers, there were hits and misses, but the overall quality was great. Sky Blew was a huge hit: his Duffman peeled off his sleeves and pant legs before getting down to his bare-assed skivvies and doused himself in beer, inciting cheers all around. Poisonne’s Maggie Simpson was a hypersexual striptease, complete with her faux-fellating her soother – porny, but undeniably appealing. I also loved Miss Elle Towe, who transformed Maude Flanders from a dowdy angel to a smoking-hot devil in shiny red undies, and KK Darko, who brought plus-sized sass to lovelorn Smithers. The acts were fast-paced and funny, the lingerie under the outfits delectably sexy, and everyone had a terrific teasing skills, and each reveal was met with cheers. It was over the top, sure…but it’s burlesque! Simpsons burlesque!
There were a couple missteps: despite an undeniably epic blue beehive, Bella Fox’s laundry-collecting take on Marge was low energy, Barely Legal Leelando nearly took a tumble off his heels, and Chilly Peppler’s Bumblebee Man was more manic than sexy. It would have been great to see their take on Lenny and Carl, or Moe. Some of the less experienced performers would benefit from a tutorial on how to keep dancing while taking off their clothes, but it’s a quibble: the energy and spirit were so good, and everyone was so clearly having fun, that even slight hiccups like those are forgivable. The performers created an event that was fun, funny, sexy and perfectly Simpsons without sacrificing burlesque’s teasing sexuality. The sold-out crowd hooted and hollered for every act, and the performers earned, and deserved, their standing ovation.
If you’ve never caught a burlesque performance before, I highly recommend starting with an Underground Peepshow event. The next is June 2, and will be Nintendo-themed: expect to see more of Princess Peach than you ever have before. Undergound Peepshow organizers Sevvy Skellington, Barely Legal Leelando and Betty Quirk encourage pitches and first-timers to apply, so if you’ve been dying to show off your “sexy Link,” now’s your chance. Performers wear panties (thongs are acceptable, although fuller-coverage vintage silhouettes are popular), and nipples stay out of sight under pasties or nipple tassels. The atmosphere is supportive, feminist, empowered, and often quite cheeky – a bit of drag here, a plus-sized performer there, all done with a wink and a grin. Specializing in nerd-inspired events is just icing on Underground Peepshow’s cake. It’s a gimmick that dovetails so nicely with their unique take on burlesque that Underground Peepshow has created something new, something great, and something that deserves to be supported. It was, as Mister Burns would say….excellent.
Photo Credits: Kaitlyn Kochany, Christina MacKay and Air’leth Aodhfin (Jammcat Photography)