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Visions of Sugar Dish

The Nutcracker meets burlesque
By JIM SULLIVAN  |  December 12, 2008

WHIP IT REAL GOOD: Violette (who, in her other life, serves as artistic director of the Ballet Lolita contemporary dance troupe) struts the part of The Slutcracker’s Russian Dancer.

Vanessa White, stage-name Sugar Dish, was lying on her couch this past spring, watching the Joffrey Ballet on TV, when "it just popped into my brain. The name came first."

That name? The Slutcracker. And from that kernel of inspiration, White, who heads the Babes in Boinkland burlesque troupe, came up with the group's most ambitious project yet: a ribald parody of The Nutcracker ballet. The show, complete with a cast of 27 (including two men) plays the Somerville Theatre this weekend.

 Slideshow: The Slutcracker

White, 31, had been a ballerina, but hung up her slippers in 2000 due to a knee injury. In 2006, while working as a model, writer, and editor at the BU-based college-sex magazine Boink, she put together a small group of strippers to entertain at one of the publication's parties. Thus were the Babes born. They are now a core of four, and are no longer officially connected with the erotica journal. Babes in Boinkland have done saucy routines in clubs around town, but this 90-minute production, which cost $10,000 to stage, is their big leap into performance.

"It had to be three things," says White, whose credits include producer, director, dancer, and choreographer of much of the show. "It had to be sexy, it had to be lighthearted, and it had to be stunningly gorgeous." The theme? "It's about acceptance and passion. It has a lot of depth."

As White sums it up, she took The Nutcracker and "essentially grew it up. Clara is now a young woman; Fritz is now her boyfriend, not her brother, and they're a young, pretty vanilla couple. They hold a Christmas party." Fritz is also planning to ask Clara to marry him. Councilor Drosselmeyer arrives. Recast now as an aunt in her 80s, she is packing attitude and an unusual item in her handbag.

"She feels like Clara's too young to settle down," says White, "and pulls out of her handbag a toy which causes quite a stir: a giant pink vibrator. Needless to say, people are laughing or horrified. Fritz is more upset. They have a big argument.. . .Everybody says, 'We gotta go.' "

Later, Drosselmeyer returns with the vibrator. Lo and behold, it grows bigger and becomes the Slutcracker Prince. "The Slutcracker courts Clara," says White, "and convinces her with his wily ways to come to the land of sexual fantasy."

Act One is fairly chaste, albeit with some bawdy symbolism, says White. Act Two is where the strip-teasing enters. "Where in The Nutcracker, it's the land of sweets where every dance is a food or candy, in The Slutcracker, every dance is a sexual lifestyle or fetish, portrayed by various numbers and styles." White, of course, plays the Sugar Dish Fairy.

The cast, she says, consists of "dancers who never made it professionally because of body type, but are spectacular dancers. It's heartwarming to take all these people and put them in this production."

One thing to note: there is no total nudity — so hey, maybe bring along the family! White says she researched local and state laws, and the least her dancers will wear are pasties and thongs.

The Slutcracker is at the Somerville Theatre, 55 Davis Square, in Somerville, December 12 through 14, with 8 pm shows all three nights and a 2 pm matinee on Sunday. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the box office or online at

Related: Griot act, Bird brain, Up and down, More more >
  Topics: Lifestyle Features , babes in boinkland, somerville Theatre, The Nutcracker,  More more >
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