« Cocktails with toys and other odd drink accessories | Main | Tif's tales: Rapping with KRS-One »

February 5, 2010

A peek into Baltimore's burlesque scene

trixie little and the evil hate monkey

When Midnight Sun reader Aaron Bush offered to write a guest column about Baltimore's burlesque scene, I couldn't resist. Here goes:

A few weeks ago, Alexis and I dragged our friend Bill to his first burlesque show.

Bill bartends in Fells and the three of us had been drinking all day and were pretty much hammered at that point.  He didn't want to go but it was a choice between drinking by himself or pasties. Pasties won.

Almost no one goes to a burlesque show for the first time without being dragged. I don’t know why. I was bribed with the lure of a trip to the pub afterward and a covered tab.

From what I recall, I was expecting a high-school talent show put on by a drunk phys ed teacher crossed with a college production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

It's not like that.

Except when it is, and then it's hysterical -- unless you paid to get in ...

That's not Baltimore though. Honestly, Baltimore has some of the best performers in the country.  Their acts seem to have a witty edge and enthusiasm that is half Greta Garbo and half drinking a 40 after hours in the Charleston.

If you haven't been to a show before, picture a room packed to the rafters with fold-up chairs (if there are chairs), a forest of Natty-Bos and plastic wine glasses perched precariously by everyone's feet, probably more women than men (all of which have the best lingerie drawers in the city), and a woman or man up on stage doing the smartest, funniest, striptease shimmy you’ll ever see.

There's a danger in over-analyzing it, cause you'll sound like an ass, but burlesque is for folks who want some banter with their sexy. The performers are there because they want to be, most don't make any real money, and during the day are typically retail clerks, lawyers, and office drones like the rest of us.

Until recently Baltimore only had one burlesque troupe, Gilded Lily, and a few independent performers like Trixie Little and Evil Hate Monkey (pictured), but for whatever reason, business is booming and they’re multiplying like rabbits. Not just here either but all over the country.

Any show you go to will most certainly sell out. The show we dragged Bill to was in the Creative Alliance while an apartment building next door dramatically burned to the ground. The lobby filled up with smoke and breathing was like wrapping your lips around a car exhaust. No one left the line even when the fire hoses started rolling past the doors.

(Photo by Steve Parke, courtesy of

Follow Midnight Sun on Facebook and Twitter @midnightsunblog
Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


I went to one of these at that place across from Joe Squared on North ave. I was flabbergasted. Another "WTH" moment for me. North avenue- check, naked people-check, alcohol-check, lingerie and boas-check-- WTH?

I've seen a few Trixie shows at Ottobar and another show at Load of Fun. I agree that it is hard to get people to go sometimes but I don't get it. Raucous comedy, heavy drinking, MC's that heckle the crowd...and of course mostly naked performers. I don't see how any self respecting fan of drinking and debauchery could not like this and nearly everyone who goes becomes a convert.

That photo is freaking me out.

Saw Gilded Lily with Wasabassco Burlesque & Hot Sauce (from Brooklyn) at Creative Alliance awhile back. It was smart and funny, I did sometimes grip my chair and make the same grin and bear it face I'm sure I make on roller coaster rides-- but it was good clean fun. I think it is just lovely that folks can perform and express in pasties if they want to.... so yay for that. Also, I thought it was interesting that the crowd was mostly women-- very sisterhood of the traveling g-string.

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Please enter the letter "h" in the field below:
About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

Most Recent Comments
Recent tweets
Sign up for FREE nightlife alerts*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for nightlife text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Weekend Watch newsletter
Plan your weekend with's best events, restaurant and movie reviews, TV picks and more delivered to you every Thursday for free.
See a sample | Sign up

Photo galleries
Stay connected