Queerella Jazelle. Photo: Joe Mays
Va Va Reverie: Dreamscape and Darkness

Va Va Vixens

A review by Keith Waits

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Va Va Vixens can be difficult to review. The shows are both always the same and always entirely new. We know there will be dance, singing, aerial acrobatics, and lots of sexy, but they are never boring.

Of course, the second half of 2021 has been one return to the stage after another, and the Vixens are back after more than 18 months in hibernation. You know the reasons why, so I won’t belabor them here, but the typical high energy of this company’s openings were ramped up more than a little by it being so long in coming, and the degree of release provided by the best burlesque in Louisville was all the more satisfying for it. 
Burlesque as executed by the Vixens is a mix of musical theatre revue and circus acrobatics all built around a loose concept that always emphasizes sexuality. Striptease and revealing costumes are a consistent feature, and an apt yet vague theme of reverie allows for a broader range of specific ideas than a more limited narrative structure; each act intended to build a celebration of naughty but very fit fun. 

The Vixens, being professionals, are fit, but there is a nice appreciation for a range of body types to enlighten us about what is at the core of sexiness. It is as much attitude and self-awareness as living up to arbitrary but entrenched standards of objectification.

But talent is also sexy. In many ways, Reverie felt like one of the tightest, most winning evenings with this company, with some bold touches such as a rare instance of a male performer (Slim Jim Dandy) working the silks with grace and physical daring, and an outrageous staging of “My Vagina is 8 Miles Wide” sung here by Queerella Jazelle, although the raucous reaction from the crowd made it almost impossible to understand the lyrics.

The one meaningful criticism was about the sound. The wireless body mics were problematic on opening night, with the unfortunate result that a few vocals were lost altogether. They were in good shape during Tony Smith’s heartfelt rendering of John Legend’s “So High” and Lady Stardust’s “I Touch Myself” while reclining on a chaise lounge was an especially straightforward evocation of the self-love philosophy that runs through all of the Vixens shows.

Several pairings offered more powerful narratives; a bestial nocturnal encounter to Tank’s “When We” was a succinct yet luminous tale of lycanthropy, and the abstract; Slim Jim Dandee & The Delightful Miss Coco showed us exciting wonders on the aerial straps. 

I could spend more words itemizing each routine (there are 29 items on producer Lisa Frye’s setlist) and performers (I believe 15 were in the curtain call), and would find little to fault; each brought the talent and the sexy in full measure. In the end, as always, there is a feeling of community that may come as a surprise to any first-timers in the audience, but which I have found is a hallmark of these productions.  
Slim Jim Dandee & The Delightful Miss Coco. Photo: Joe Mays

Va Va Reverie: Dreamscape & Darkness

September 3, 4, 10, & 11 @ 8:00 pm

VIP (Reserved Seats with Cocktail Service) $45 General Admission $35

Va Va Vixens
Art Sanctuary
1433 South Shelby Street
Louisville, KY 40217

Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being the host of LVA’s Artebella On The Radio on WXOX 97.1 FM / ARTxFM.com, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in LEO Weekly, Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for Arts-Louisville.com.