While a number of my fellow Phoenicians were camped out over at the Boston Burlesque Fest this weekend, I headed out to the Coolidge where The Sex Workers Art Show Tour was making a stop on Saturday at midnight. This was my first time attending the event, which has been running every year since 1997. It was also the first time I can remember seeing real-life naked ladies outside of the bedroom. When I arrived at half past, there was a line that ran the length of the parking lot. I scanned the line for old creepy guys, but instead found a pretty cheery lot of twentysomethings, the 30-minute or so wait outside notwithstanding (God bless Allston).
If you haven't heard of the traveling tour, it's essentially a variety show for sex workers of all stripes. This year's bill promised a few writers (including the very fabulous author Stephen Elliott, whom I was there to see), two Miss Exotic Worlds, a Japanese performing artist, a classically trained musician, and a stripper-turned-burlesque instructor. But above all, as host and event organizer Annie Oakley would later remind us, we were there to see naked ladies.
And naked ladies we got. The first performer Bridget Irish came out to "America, Fuck Yeah" from Team America in an authentic military getup. Grunting and muttering to herself, she burst up and down the aisles handing out small brownish objects (my guess was that they were potatoes standing in for hand grenades) to the people on the ends before running back up on stage to strip. "Do you feel like you just took acid?" asked our host Oakley afterwards, her hair a strangely alluring monstrosity of long, red curls. Never having taken acid myself, I wouldn't know, but I will allow that it was perfectly bizarre. "Just wait," added Oakley knowingly. More sensual was former Miss Exotic World Dirty Martini's burlesque routine. A sizable lady with a romp the size of a big screen TV, she moved around the stage with remarkable ease, peeling off layers of her elaborate gown, while earning good-spirited hoots and hollers from the audience. Dirty was later upstaged by reigning Miss Exotic World Julie Atlas Muz who in her first appearance on the tour so far came out with a giant balloon. It seemed at first that the balloon was an absurd novelty item for the statuesque blonde to play with. That is, until Atlas Muz proceeded to finagle her entire body inside its tenuous walls and to our amazement continued with the striptease that way. It really was a thing of beauty.
Without a doubt, the strangest performance belonged to C. Snatch Z. To begin, a movie screen came down projecting a scene of a snowy sky. Every now and then amidst the snowfall passed a rather sizable gun. We sat watching this until Snatch appeared pointing what looked to be a dildo gun at us, and then a little later said into the mic something like, “I’ll suck your cock as much as you want if you think it’ll help stop the war.” She stripped, but ironically enough, that part of the performance proved to be rather unmemorable. Some time later, the man I'd been patiently waiting for all night, Stephen Elliott, finally came out to read two poems — the second one about his long history of temping. Although, occasionally funny, it left me miffed. The guy's written so candidly about his sex life and his past as a stripper and he gives us this little nothing poem about temping? I left immediately after, slightly let down, but buoyed by the idea of all of those artists I had newly discovered.