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Some Deadly Dames

Olympia’s Tush Burlesque unveils its latest production Saturday

"Deadly Dames" was inspired by film noir. Courtesy Isreal Caine

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Burlesque can be a drag.

"Stage-ready makeup for burlesque is called ‘full drag,' " explains Frida Fondle of Olympia's Tush Burlesque. "It's a great homage to the drag queens, who really do exemplify the ultimate of feminine glamour. When we are putting on our makeup for the stage, we aspire to look as glamorous as drag queens."

The Tush troupe, now a year and a half old and performing Deadly Dames Saturday at the Eagles Hall Ballroom in Olympia, is all women - although some numbers do include men.

"They're not really doing any of the striptease," Fondle says. "They're just props; I'd call them props more than I'd call them extras."

Saturday there will be a masculine presence at center stage, though: Frida Fondle will debut her drag king alter ego, Peter Fondle - a name that makes me want to elbow someone in the ribs.

"I've been thinking about the term ‘drag' and what does that mean if you're a woman," Fondle says. "It's fun to turn your gender on its ear; its another way to play with sexuality and stereotypes."

What Peter will do remains a mystery - as does the plot of the film-noir-inspired Deadly Dames.

"We're going for a very '30s, '40s aesthetic - very much femme fatale," Fondle says.

"I'm so excited about the theme," says Ginger S. Mack, another of the Tush dancers. "This is my favorite theme."

Previous themes since the group's first show in September 2009 have ranged from Day of the Dead to Northwest rock.

But wait - what was that about a plot?

"I think of all the shows this is going to be our most theatrical," Fondle says. "There's a storyline that weaves throughout the whole show. The acts are connected. We don't want our show to be just a bunch of random burlesque acts. We want people to feel like maybe they've seen a play."

Fondle refuses to reveal the nature of the plot, but each piece has its own story to tell - whether clear to the viewer or more abstract.

"I want to push myself to create new performances that are going to push the envelope and advance the art form," she says. "And it is an art form. It's like making a painting. When you look at a painting, you don't always know what the artist was going through at the time."

In any case, one difference between a burlesque show and a play is that people probably aren't going to see it for the plot. You know it will be sexy, whatever it's about.

But stripping is not what it's about.

"It's about the tease more than it is about the reveal," Fondle says. "When you're onstage, you are an empowered presence. You are in complete control of how much you reveal and how you reveal it."

"Human beings are incredibly sexy, and we love that," Mack adds. "This is basically a celebration of that. It's not about being dirty or something to be ashamed of. It's a celebration of a beautiful thing."

Recent shows have included a special guest performer. This time around it's Sugar Backsass. Lots of people express interest in performing, Fondle says.

"We usually get 9 or 10 people confirming, and then everyone cancels at the last minute," Fondle says. "We get like four people. It takes a lot of cojones to be able to put yourself up there on stage and do this.

"Sometimes it's totally surreal to me that I'm doing it," she adds. "I never would have imagined that this is what I would be doing at 43 years old."

Tush Burlesque presents Deadly Dames</H3>
Saturday, March 12, 7:30 and 10 p.m.,
$12 in advance at Belleza Ropa in Olympia and from Tush members, $15 at the door. Eagles Hall Ballroom, Plum Street and Fourth Avenue, Olympia

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Perlita Picante said on Mar. 09, 2011 at 8:09pm

This is going to be the best show TUSH! has put on stage so far. I will do pick up for the first time here- and all I can say is that Peter Fondle is da shit! you do not want to miss this.

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