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October 14, 2014 at 10:29am

Arrivederci, V-card! There's a first time for everyone

True stories about their "first time" are brought to life in the acclaimed play by Ken Davenport at Centerstage Theatre in Federal Way.

How was your first time? Was it painful? Exhilarating? Humiliating? Was it true what they say about band camp, or church camp, or those roommate-warding socks on dorm doorknobs? Was it your high school or college sweetheart, some stranger at a party, maybe someone you thought was in the friend file? Was it his or her first time, too? Did you plan for the big event? Had you worked your way up to it for months, or was it over in a moment of weakness? Were you ready? Were you willing? Were you protected? Was it love?

Why, yes, I too have an amusing story about my first ... OK, so maybe it isn't suitable for this particular venue, but I can tell you it ended positively for everyone concerned. You probably have your own funny, shocking, moving defloration account. You may have even been gutsy enough to post it on MyFirstTime.com, a website that catalogs anonymous milestone stories, most of which appear to be true. The site's been active since the Internet's inception. Over the last 16 years, it's attracted tens of thousands of writers whose memories range from all over the tragicomedy spectrum. Why, that might make for a fun night of storytelling, you imagine, and you would be right. In fact, it has: My First Time: The Play opened off-Broadway in 2007 and ran for two and a half years, spawning productions all over the world. In it, two female and two male actors perform a series of highlights from the archive, offering insight into our most intimate selves. "This has been my favorite course of study in college," one character reveals, "and I'm thinking of going to grad school to pursue this undeclared major." My First Time may not be everyone's idea of a perfect first date, but I can promise you this: it will inspire fascinating post-show conversation.

As the Internet evolves, so do our views of and exposure to sexuality. We live in a lust-frenzied world, overwhelming for young people and almost as scary for grown-ups determined to protect them. Yet even now, when our moment of truth arrives, it requires us to overcome our deepest vulnerabilities and move forward toward adulthood and, ideally, love.  

MY FIRST TIME, 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, through Oct. 26, Centerstage! Theatre, 3200 SW Dash Point Rd., Federal Way, $10-$50, 253.661.1444

Filed under: Federal Way, Sex, Theater,

September 20, 2014 at 2:12pm

Getting Lucky with Nicky and Adam: Series Finale

Rev. Adam McKinney kissed a boy at The Mix.

REV. ADAM MCKINNEY: Well, Nicky, we all knew it would come to this: the series finale of Getting Lucky. After spending all summer trying to hook up with random ladies at bars, we somehow proved unsuccessful. For anyone that bet on us in your office pool, I apologize. After dragging you to the hetero-soaked vibes of all of these clubs, I decided that the best way to make it up to you was to go to a gay bar. After taking in a production of the 17th century farce, The School for Lies, I hiked up the hill to meet you and get hyphy at The Mix. Now, Nicky, these places are your stomping grounds, so how were you preparing for our final excursion?

NICKY MARTIN: In the past when I've made the decision to hit one of the local gay bars, Club Silverstone, I tended to head straight for the tequila. Since the Stone has dancing on Fridays and Saturdays, I feel like that's the only way that I can all those sweaty queers and pretend I don't have the dance moves of Carlton Banks from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. But one does not start off at the Silverstone. First, I'll start imbibing at either the other local gay bar The Mix, or Puget Sound Pizza right downstairs. Once the clock strikes midnight or so, I'll head out for a smoke and wait to see a drunken crowd pour out of one gay bar, and on to another. That's my cue to head for the dancefloor. As soon as I see the usual shirtless kid dancing in the mirror, I know I've arrived. Then, it's usually downhill from there. How did what I describe differ from what we actually experienced?

ADAM: You hit the nail on the head. Knowing that this was our last night, we pre-gamed pretty hard, and I somehow managed to get my hands on something called an "Inception Shot," which is a shot within a shot within a shot. After that, all bets were off. We stumbled down to the Silverstone, paid our cover, and were immediately whisked away to blacklight-and-disco-ball haven of the Silverstone - where everyone was already coupled up. In a panic, we looked at the clock, seeing an hour until last call, and downed our vodka Red Bulls. Racing back, we made the decision to split up, like in a horror movie - you at the Mix, me at Puget Sound Pizza. Ladies are into desperation, right? Somehow, though, we got off track. I ended up kissing a couple guys, and then, maybe you can clear this up for me (Inception Shot, remember?), but how did we end up going swimming?

NICKY: Well, what had happened was after we realized it was too late for the bar our next best option was an after hours spot. Back in the day, these were not hard things to find and would usually give you a few more hours to socialize. But it seems we all got old and aren't the rabble-rousers we used to be. After walking one of the nice young men you locked lips with to his car, I came back to find you in cahoots with two other patrons. It was somehow decided, that with summer winding to a close, we should get in one last swim at a local pool. So after one awkward taxi ride and two hopped fences, we arrived at our final destination. You wasted no time in getting down to your skivvies and heading for the diving board. I dipped my feet in and waited to be busted at any moment. Luckily, that paranoid fear stayed just that.

Final thoughts?

ADAM: I regret nothing. From the moment that you drunkenly pitched the idea for this column to me, and I ran with it without really consulting with you, I knew that it'd all end up with me soaking wet in my underwear, and you fully clothed next to me - following me, dragged by me, as I embarrass myself over and over again for JOURNALISM. We've befriended strippers, been ripped off by overpriced Red Bull, shied away from taking home crying girls, and may have broken several laws in the service of getting lucky. Did we fail? Yes. Unequivocally, yes. But have we tapped into some deeper emotional truth? No. I guess what I'm trying to say, ladies, is that Nicky and I remain single and ready to mingle. For more information, consult the bathroom walls of bars in the Tacoma area. That's how you can get a hold of us.

SEE ALSO

Getting Lucky with Nicky and Adam: Sixth Avenue Edition

Getting Lucky with Nicky and Adam: Encore Boutique Nightclub Edition

Getting Lucky with Nicky and Adam: Keys on Main Edition

Getting Lucky with Nicky and Adam: KRY Edition

Getting Lucky with Nicky and Adam: Strip Club Edition

Filed under: Sex, Food & Drink, Tacoma,

September 5, 2014 at 2:09pm

Getting Lucky with Nicky and Adam: Strip Club Edition

Adam and Nicky at Dream Girls at Fox's strip club in Tacoma

REV. ADAM MCKINNEY: Well, this didn't go as planned. As we stated at the beginning of this experiment, the column would come to an end when one of us got laid, or when the summer ended. Needless to say, the "getting lucky" aspect hasn't quite gone our way. This left us with two editions remaining before fall arrives. My bright idea for a surefire place to go to meet women? Dream Girls at Fox's! A strip club! This is the best idea I've ever had. Did you enjoy our trip to the strip club?

NICKY MARTIN: Oddly enough, yes. I was a bit worried at the beginning of the night because, contrary to popular belief, naked women whom I've never met before grinding on me is bloody terrifying. I attempted to get over this fear once in Portland. The nice lady giving me a lap dance told me it was OK to look. I guess that means I was doing it wrong. I figured the only way to face this article was head on, with a shit ton of whiskey and an Adderall. The great thing about this club was it also shared the building with a bar appropriately named Pole Position. It wasn't the dark, creepy dive one you would expect from a bar attached to a strip club that just happens to be located in Parkland. What was your first impression of the bar?

ADAM: I'm with you on being uncomfortable. The last strip club I went to was for my 18th birthday, and it was a shit show. To my surprise, the bar was pretty great. Not too busy, which I liked. (We would find out later that if we had gone a week later, we could've seen Pole Position's Grand Opening, featuring a twerking contest judged by Sir Mix-A-Lot. Just our luck.) After pre-gaming, we shrugged our shoulders and went over to Dreamgirls, and you know what? It was GREAT! Every stripper I spoke to was amazingly nice. Of course, they were all anticipating that I'd give them money, but I think we'd all be a little more personable if we thought there was a reasonable chance of strangers giving us money. Can you imagine how magical that world would be? Your thoughts?

NICKY: I'm with you, A-Dawg. Granted, I spent more time looking at the ceiling or into my bottomless Sprite beverage rather then the stage. The girls were really nice, even after I told them I wasn't the lap dancing type. Before we went out that night, I tried to read up on proper strip-club etiquette, written by a professional dancer. One of the things I read about was how most dancers have to pay a floor fee, and buying dances and drinks for them is how they cover that fee. I explained to the girls that came up that I didn't want them to waste their time since I wasn't planning on getting any dances. Most of them moved on after that, but gals sat and chatted with us about the article. We portrayed it as more of a "looking for love in all the wrong places" and less of a "dating article," which is the turn it's pretty much taken. That seemed to strike the right cord with them. "This is the perfect place for that kind of column!" one stated. For the record, I did give two women money and even complimented one girl's tattoos. Did you make some friends, Adam? I saw you chatted up plenty of ladies.

ADAM: Oddly enough, I did stay in contact with one of the dancers after that night. Granted, she's got a husband and kids, but this is by far the closest I've come to meeting somebody for this godforsaken column. Still, I was most fascinated by the culture of lap dances. I got two at Dreamgirls, but I still can't quite understand exactly what my role is in that situation. I mean, I know what did happen to me in those moments - which you can figure out for yourselves, you perverts - but there was still a feeling that I wasn't doing it right. But, I guess that old saying is right, that there's more than one way to have a stranger grind on you in public. Now that we've come out of the strip club unscathed (though still unsuccessful, technically), you and I have discussed the possibility of just transitioning this into a column about strippers. We'll see. What I do know is that the next column will be the last for Getting Lucky. Let's make it count.

Filed under: Sex, Tacoma,

August 22, 2014 at 11:56am

Getting Lucky with Nicky and Adam: KRY Edition

After some Washington Apple shots, Rev. Adam McKinney grabbed a shot with the bride-to-be.

ADAM: Well, first, would you like to explain to the nice people why you were not able to come with me to see KRY, Nicky?

NICKY: You make it sound like I had a choice. Due to what I'm calling a "medicine mishap," I was unable to attend the fun. I lost my ID and hadn't slept in three days, so it was best to leave this week's adventure to Adam. But you didn't go into this alone. Who was your sidekick this week and how did the night begin?

ADAM: I guess those are valid excuses. On the hot tip of some random drunk dude, I decided that I needed to go to The Swiss when everyone's favorite bro-down cover band KRY was playing. I would've gone alone, if need be, but luckily our friend Charlotte the Magnificent came to the rescue. We pre-gamed at Puget Sound Pizza before heading over to The Swiss to get our KRY-faces on. The place was buzzing with activity, and KRY were in full effect. I had never seen them perform, before, so I didn't know what to expect. Certainly, I didn't see the drummer's plexiglass barrier coming - you know, like the kind Phil Collins would've used. As their rendition of Eve 6's "Inside Out" played in the background, Charlotte and I immediately noticed the bachelorette party situated at the table just inside the door.

NICKY: Obviously, the random drunk stranger was on to something. Did you make it to the bar before swooping in on the nice group of ladies by the door or did you take a stroll around the bar a bit? I guess what I'm asking, Adam, is did you let any ladies twerk on you while KRY played?

ADAM: Don't get me wrong: there was twerking happening, albeit from a safe distance away from me. Charlotte and I swooped by the bachelorette party, asked what they wanted and brought them some Washington Apple shots. They were playing the classic college drinking game King's Cup, which I have never seen done in a public place. I should also mention that Charlotte had decided to adopt a Southern accent and pretend that she had just moved here from Virginia. She's way better at this than I am. After nabbing a picture with the bride-to-be, we decided that a change of venue was needed. We headed down to the bar at the Hotel Murano, where we ran into yet another bachelorette party. They're everywhere!

NICKY: 'Tis the season to put it on lock down, I suppose. So you went from a crowded, three room club where a band from the '80s played hits from the late '90s to early 2000s to a much smaller and I'm sure much more quiet hotel bar. How was that? Did you come up with a backstory about being in town for just one night on business? I feel like you should have a backstory if you drink at a hotel bar in the town you live in. It's just kind of weird.

ADAM: WHY DIDN'T I SAY I WAS A BUSINESSMAN? Oh well. We thought we were nailing it: drinking in a place where out-of-town people are staying just steps away? Perfect. Well, the place was pretty dead, save for a cluster of coupled-up 50-year-olds. I told them I was a writer and asked them how they go about picking up people at bars, and the men were sheepish at first. There were several answers that were along the lines of "ask them what their sign is," but nothing I could use. One woman was adamant about how stupid she thought this column was. She said that I should try approaching women at the grocery store, which I can't imagine doing outside of a fugue state. To complicate matters, a man at the bar said that the best way is to go to a million bars and hit on as many people as possible. Why can't this be more straightforward?

NICKY: I don't know, picking up chicks at the grocery store doesn't sound half bad, depending on what aisle they're in. I could see how hitting on as many people as possible could work, or every rejection could just kill us a little each time.

ADAM: Isn't that what's already happening?

Filed under: Sex, Tacoma, Music,

August 8, 2014 at 2:49pm

Getting Lucky with Nicky and Adam: Keys on Main Edition

ADAM: First, I'd like to thank you, Nicky, for not getting nearly as drunk as me for our journey to Keys on Main. I was pre-gaming pretty hard, but thankfully my memory doesn't cut off until right around when we left. All of the rest of the things that I've forgotten have been helpfully filled in by you. So, we headed down to Keys on Main, which made me nostalgic for the late Chopstix. This dueling piano bar was fucking bonkers. It looked like fucking Thunderdome. Tables filled out the area in front of the stage, and a second level loomed above it, with shitfaced revelers leaning over the railing to holler at the piano players. We instantly beelined for the bar, where we once again fell prey to a $9 vodka Red Bull. Still the vibe was pretty hyped. How were you feeling on the night?

NICKY: Not as good as you were, it seems. Before hitting the club, I had a couple Irish coffees at The Mix, trying to get my energy up. Mistake! I got to Keys on Main with an upset stomach, and you were already inching your way toward a blackout. I had also made a vow to never get tricked by these outrageous Red Bull mark-ups, so that part of the night was all on you. I did see you talking to a girl at the bar, though, which is already a marked improvement from our previous outings.

ADAM: As luck would have it, I won some money at the casino the night before, so I was determined to big-time it and waste all of that at Keys on Main. I was getting ready to order my second drink when a girl sidled up to the bar next to me: Bridgett the Birthday Girl. Working purely on drunk instinct, I immediately pivoted and offered her a drink. I've never felt simultaneously like such a big loser and a rad dude in my entire life. We got shots of vodka and she asked me how old I thought she was - a notorious trap. Luckily, I low-balled it. Later on, I tried to find her again to interview her for this column, but she was gone.

NICKY: It's even worse than not finding her, Adam. Talking about this later, it turns out you don't remember what you actually did. You got two more shots of vodka, turned to look for her and, seeing that she was leaving, you just did both of the shots. It was terrifying to witness. Meanwhile, I was getting annoyed at getting the nerve to go up to a girl mere moments before her boyfriend would come up and throw his arm around her. It didn't help that I was almost completely sober. Right around this time is when you ran in from your smoke break and said you were too drunk and that we had to go. But we were doing so well! Also, we didn't get a picture of us with a lovely lady.

ADAM: Sorry, Nicky. I know you were just getting warmed up. I went outside to try and find Bridgett the Birthday Girl, but she was being spirited away by her friends. Instead, I ran into a guy who's DJ'd at clubs like this one for years. We got to talking, I told him about this column, and I asked him the best way to pick up girls at the club. He said, and I quote, "Be rich. Just have a ton of fucking money." There you have it, Nicky! We've been doing this thing all wrong! Still, I feel like we're making progress. There's not too many of these before the summer's over, but I'm more confident than ever that we'll get lucky.

Filed under: Sex, Music, Tacoma,

July 25, 2014 at 4:59pm

Getting Lucky with Nicky and Adam: Encore Boutique Nightclub Edition

Nicky and Adam pose with a remarkably forgiving girl at Encore Boutique Nightclub in downtown Tacoma.

ADAM: Well, Nicky, I think it's fair to say that our visit to Jazzbones was an unequivocal failure. Turns out there's learning curve to this whole "macking on ladies" business. In an effort to crank this thing up a notch, we decided to jump into the deep end of the pool and go to the one place where we were sure to stick out like a pair of painfully awkward sore thumbs: the Encore Boutique Nightclub in downtown Tacoma. We walked in looking like a couple of substitute history teachers, and we were ready to get our flirt on. How did it feel paying a $10 cover charge to be a wallflower on a fog machine and black light dance floor?

NICKY: The cover wasn't exactly a shock, so I didn't mind it. The $9 vodka and Red Bull did grab me a bit. After we obtained our drinks, we attempted to find a comfortable spot to sit, while still giving us a good view of the joint. Adam picked out a prime spot upstairs; unfortunately it also just happened to be Sabrina's VIP section. With that, we retreated to a spot we knew well to devise a new plan: the bar. It was around this time we began to notice how empty it was. Had we arrived too early? What were your first impressions, Adam?

ADAM: My first impression was that this club must have gone nuts at the velvet rope depot. Every nook and cranny was cordoned off, complete with buff dudes in suits to glare at us. Sabrina's VIP lounge was safe from our polite presence. Right inside the door, there were two people on a couch aggressively making out, so at least somebody was getting lucky that night. Oh, and thanks for that vodka and Red Bull, Nicky. We were doing our best to hyphy, so that jolt was appreciated. As for being too early, we did arrive right on time, just after 10 p.m., which is when they open. Is that not the way this works? Anyway, right around the time a chopped and screwed version of "Royals" came on, people were filling up the dance floor. What do you think our chances of meeting a couple nice ladies were?

NICKY: I wasn't so sure of our chances of meeting ladies in general, let alone "nice" ones. If memory serves correct, about the time Lorde came on was probably the same time the lights went in to full "Flashy-Japanamation" mode. At that moment, I was less concerned with pretty girls twerkin' and more worried about not becoming ill. Maybe this is a good time to mention I suffer from the ol' PTSD, and flashing lights, crowds off strangers and loud music can put me in a less than comfortable state. There was one thing that helped me keep my mind off the visually intrusive strobe light: Mr. Vesty. That kid had moves. While Adam was in the little boys room, I tried to take tips from Vesty. He was there before we arrived, already on the dance floor. It was now about 45 mins later and he was dancing with two girls. Adam returned from the lavatory and we discussed talking to some ladies in the different VIP sections. But which one would we choose? Adam, what was your choice?

ADAM: I wanted to talk to what was clearly a bachelorette party across the dance floor from us, partitioned by a velvet rope. However, the bouncer we talked to (who also apparently works for Microsoft?) seemed to think that might not be the best idea - although, getting thrown out of Encore might have been the best way for this thing to wrap up. Instead, we ended up getting our picture taken with a remarkably forgiving girl. One of our friends recently proposed the idea that we're not so much wingman-ing each other as we are cockblocking each other. She might have a point. Encore proved to be unsuccessful, but I feel like we're getting closer. When we hit 502 Downtown, next time, I'm just gonna go ahead and predict we'll be bringing mad skills. Or, you know, not.

Filed under: DJ/Electronica, Sex, Tacoma,

July 11, 2014 at 7:50pm

Getting Lucky with Nicky and Adam: Sixth Avenue Edition

The limited series "Getting Lucky" will find awkward socialites Nicky and Adam hitting club after club, wingman-ing each other.

ADAM: All right, so here's the deal. My friend Nicky and I are - in our estimation - Tacoma's foremost eligible bachelor and bachelorette (respectively). There are few people in the South Sound who so consistently succeed at remaining single and awkward in bars. So, it was determined that we'd start a little column where we'd tour the meat markets of our fine city and wingman each other. This column will end when we get laid, or when the summer ends. In other words, it'll end when the summer ends. I think it's no secret that we were trepidatious about hitting up Jazzbones for this inaugural edition. Nicky, what was our game plan?

NICKY: I figured first we'd have to get a drink in us to calm the jitters. Then, make a list of things and situations to avoid when the attempted swooning begins. I thought at some point we should try and properly buy someone a drink, although in a different fashion than movies have taught us. After we ordered some vodka and Red Bull, we perused the karaoke book and started scoping out the room. Another aspect to our plan was karaoke choice. We tried to stay away from self-deprecating tunes, and I tried to personally pick something modern, or at least well known. What song did you go with?

ADAM: First off, "a drink" is being kind. I was on my way to "three sheets to the wind" territory by the time we showed up. As far as songs go, I decidedly did not go with something modern: The Pixies' "Here Comes Your Man," which garnered blank stares last time I tore it up at Jazzbones. Meanwhile, you did pretty well with "Seven Nation Army," although now's as good a time to mention this as any: the pickings were pretty sparse at Jazzbones this Monday night; everyone was coupled up, except for the table of bros feverishly texting in the table next to us. I'm going to chalk our failure up to everybody recuperating from the holiday weekend, and not to our lack of macking skills. Personally, I was a little relieved to not jump into the deep end right off the bat, because we have some pretty nasty clubs we're heading to in the next few weeks. Despite encouragement to the contrary, I will not be sporting an Ed Hardy shirt in the near future. Where did we go after Jazzbones?

NICKY: We were off to O'Malley's, after I doused my liver in one more Vodka and Red Bull. That, in turn, gave me a little boost in my morale. I refused to let us accept defeat so quickly (even though it was after midnight, on a Monday night/Tuesday morning), so we shared a PBR and racked up a game of pool. After about fifteen minutes of making "slop" shots, it became clear that the only thing worse than our social skills, were our billiards skills. Still, I ended the night hanging out with the only woman that really matters: Dr. Beverly Crusher, of the U.S.S. Enterprise.

ADAM: Well, good for you. I can't remember who I ended the night with, but I'm willing to bet myself $5,000 that it was just me and a burrito from Memo's. So, all in all, not the most successful night on the town. Although, it could have been worse; that burrito could've rejected me. But, as you know, Nicky, I'm never one to let misfortune with the ladies make me do anything drastic like, say, start going to intensive therapy and whining about my penis size. All that matters, now, is that we don't let a bro-y hiccup like Jazzbones on a Monday night stand in the way of us meeting some ladies with low standards. I have my eye on the Encore Boutique Nightclub. Bottle service! Think we'll pass their dress code?

NICKY: Adam, we are some dapper motherfuckers. Let's get our club face on.

SEE ALSO

Tips and warnings for online Tacoma dating

Filed under: Sex, Tacoma,

May 29, 2014 at 10:20am

Behind the scenes at Olympia's first strip club, Desire

Starrr, one of more than 40 dancers at Desire, preps for her time on stage. Photo credit: Nikki McCoy

Now, here is a story that has all kinds of politics behind it. We could be subjective and argue morals; we could be objective and newsy and look at all sides. But that's not where I'm going with it. What I want to do with this story is talk about the dancers.

I was first turned on to the story idea by Cally Baker, a woman who teaches pole dancing in Olympia. A message popped up on my Facebook, where she shared with me that she is now instructing dancers at Desire, Olympia's first strip club, which recently opened as an extension of a 20-year-old retail business.

After receiving the green light from my editor, I agreed to meet Baker at the club and hang out in the locker room to get to know the ladies, as well as club owner Levi Bussanich.

I let Baker know, and she was thrilled to help share the story.

"This is really challenging me in so many ways," she disclosed, "as a pole dancing instructor, as a woman, and a sex-positive feminist. There is an awesome story there (at Desire), and I've really gained some perspective and insight regarding the stripper/strip club culture."

So, let's dive into that culture, shall we? A walk into the club is what you might think. Hyper-sexual energy charged by naked women and electric lights. Customers, both male and female, drinking sodas or digging in their wallets. A caged area is reserved for lap dances.

A walk into the locker room is a different story, however. Girls fuss over shoes and compliment outfits. Some smoke cigarettes out the back door. Many are mothers, with one sometimes pumping and storing her breast milk in the company fridge. Bussanich, who was a martial artist for 20 years, shows one of the dancers safe stretching.

One woman, "Alice" comes off the floor, all pink bikini and bouncy hair, flushed from a recent dance.

"I totally rocked that guy's night - it was awesome," she says, rummaging through her locker.

Alice is new to stripping. Just last month, she was landscaping to pay the bills.

"I still have my sun hat and knee pads in the back of my truck," she laughed. "I've worked at call centers, too, and you just feel negative at the end of the day. Here, it fit everything I love. I love dancing - I feel super happy. It's just a positive, fun and creative environment."

Bussanich has hired more than 40 licensed dancers and strives to keep up the positive environment. A work in progress, he hopes to help with daycare and to organize medical and retirement for his employees.

DESIRE, 3200 Pacific Ave., Olympia, $20 cover, 360.352.0820

Filed under: Sex, Olympia,

April 14, 2014 at 2:00pm

Words & Photos: Gritty City Sirens burlesque troupe presents "Adventures in Oz" in Tacoma

Cowardly Lion scares the crap out of Dorothy and her friends. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Pasties and butt cheeks and hip-hop Toto, oh my!

The setup

Expect all three - and more titillating fun - in The Gritty City Sirens' Adventures in Oz, a Wizard of Oz-inspired burlesque production at the Temple Theater Ballroom Saturday, April 19.

I caught a full dress run of Tacoma's burlesque troupe's largest production to date Sunday afternoon. Sadness leaving the sunshine for a dark theater soon disappeared.

This Tacoma makeover of L. Frank Baum's classic may be campy, but it still follows the famous Dorothy down the Yellow Brick Road where she hooks up with the tie-wearing Scarecrow, sexy Tin Man and the fur-donning Cowardly Lion and gains enough confidence as a showgirl to defeat the Wicked Witch of the West. Along the way, there are some eye-popping burlesque, pole dancing, dance numbers and zaniness by the likes of Lusty Zins, Bettie Klondike, Rosie Cheex as Glinda, Heather Hostility as the Wicked Witch, Ava D Jor as the Cowardly Lion and Polly Pucker Up as Dorothy. Toto, in this scenario, takes the form of a hip-hop bboy. The production is necessarily short on suspense, since you know it so well, but delivers with a strong theatrical impact, inventive soundtrack, remarkable performances and hilarious moments.

The one-night only performance benefits the Carol Milgard Breast Center.

The Road

My Yellow Brick Road experience was the troupe's final dress rehearsal, and I kept one foot in such. Often the action would halt on the road, with new instructions or a quick brainstorm session. Also, it would be a shame to spoil the gags and one-liners, so I won't.

The show opens with Tacoma singer-songwriter Heidi "Bunny Holiday" Stoermer and accordionist Tony Hanson setting the stage for a night of wonderful music.

"Yes, we thought ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow' was kind of a no-brainer, so we auditioned with that one and the second song, ‘Until the Real Thing Comes Along.' Toby and I couldn't settle on a closing number, so we composed the final song just for the show," says Stoermer. It works.

Hattie Hotpants from TUSH burlesque in Olympia plays the Great and Powerful Mistress of Oz. The emcee for the Olympia burlesque troupe, Hotpants keeps the laughs and flow rolling in this show. She's quick, and it pays off when there's a Munchkin mishap or skin exposed.

The story basically follows the original Oz, except the story opens with Dorothy receiving a makeover, saddled by her faithful, hip-hop dog Toto, played by Tacoma's favorite gallery owner/DJ.

Since a windstorm would ruin the inventive costumes, Noelle Wood, owner of Tacoma's pole dance school Poledello, and her equally amazing student who is "the calm before the storm", whips up the tornado around a pole. The entire cast of 26 gets swept up in the whirlwind, which includes a little Daft Punk circling about.

You know what happens when Dorothy and Toto land in another land, the Lollipop Guild busts out moves to a club beat, the Lullaby league toss hula hoops and Glinda the Good Witch of the North takes it all to the music of Willie Dixon.

Sure enough, the Scarecrow takes off her rags, the Tin Man sheds the metal and the Cowardly Lion - receiving big laughs - disrobes the fur.

No one will sleep during the dance of the Poppies.

And ... then ... there are the monkeys. If you know Tacoma music and ballet, you'll instantly recognize these three zany characters who provide non-stop energy and laughs.

Music from Queens of the Stone Age, Goldfrapp, N.E.R.D., Louis Prima and others mix with snippets of the original Oz soundtrack, and the Wicked Witch of the West stripping to music by the Voodoo Organist is brilliant.

Yes, even sweet little Dorothy hurls her clothing to Toto offstage. 

I've said too much. I'll probably have to face the wrath of those freakin' monkeys.

The Verdict

In all, it will be an excellent night of twirling tassels and bawdy jokes. (Insert your own Kansas joke here.)

GRITTY CITY SIRENS' ADVENTURES IN OZ, 7 p.m., Saturday, April 19, Temple Theatre Ballroom, 47 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma, $25, Ticketmaster

LINK: More photos of Gritty City Sirens' Adventures in Oz

Filed under: Arts, Music, Tacoma, Sex, Theater,

September 4, 2013 at 7:29am

5 Things To Do Today: Film Forward Day 2, "Grand Coulee to Grunge," brewers night, "Dates With Kate" and more ...

"The Light in Her Eyes" offers an extraordinary portrait of a leader who challenges the women of her community to live according to Islam, without giving up their dreams.

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 4 2013 >>>

1. 1. Audiences from Bosnia to Columbia, from Maine to Puerto Rico, from China to Tacoma will grab a taste of independent film, as the Sundance Institute's Film Forward program rolls on for a fourth year. Film Forward will travel to eight locations - four in the United States, four overseas - from February to October 2013 - including a run in Tacoma, Sept. 3-7. The touring program doesn't focus on a traditional movie audience, but aims to "enhance greater cultural understanding, collaboration and dialogue around the globe by engaging audiences through the exhibition of films, workshops and conversations with filmmakers," according to its website. Today's free films are Valley of Saints and The Light in Her Eyes. Valley of Saints screens at 5 p.m. at the University of Puget Sound with a post film discussion moderated by Peter Wimberger, professor of biology and director of the Slater Museum of Natural History at UPS. The Light in Her Eyes screens at 9 p.m. in The Grand Cinema with a post film discussion with Julia Meltzer, director of the film; Dr. Therese Saliba, professor of Middle East Studies and international feminism at The Evergreen State College; moderated by Dr. David Coon, associate professor at University of Washington Tacoma.

2. Secretary of State Kim Wyman's Legacy Washington team created the "Grand Coulee to Grunge" exhibit, focusing on the eight stories from Washington state that changed the world. In one visit to the State Capitol, you and your family can learn how awesome the state is in terms of business, science, technology and music. Drop by the exhibits opening from 4-6 p.m.

3. Headed by Barry and Renee Watson, founders and previous owners of Tacoma staple the Rosewood Cafe, Pint Defiance is a must visit for any lover of the hops. Pint Defiance seamlessly marries the concept of craft beer retail space with a pub. The walls are lined with coolers neatly displaying a unique collection of canned and bottled brews by region. From 5-7 p.m. Pint Defiance hosts The Two Beers/Seattle Cider crews to talk shop and give away some schwag. Pint Defiance will have draft offerings from both on tap: Two Beers—Pumpkin Spice Ale, a fresh hop IPA, and a very rare keg of bourbon-barrel aged Heart of Darkness CDA.

4. After a 5.5 year-long relationship Kate Bergstrom ventured into the world of online dating. It hasn't always been pretty but she has had quite the entertaining time meeting more than 100 men. After realizing that her friends and family were living vicariously through her dating stories she thought she might share them with the world, one man at a time. She wrote a book, Dates With Kate: Tales and Tips From An Online Dating Veteran, which she'll discuss and hang out at 6:30 p.m. in The Swiss.

5. In 2011, readers of this fine rag voted the Top of Tacoma Bar and Cafe the best bar in Tacoma. This was due in no small part to their well drink Wednesdays. Two dollar well drinks after 7 p.m. Are you kidding? That's, like, riding the train to funkytown for only eight bucks. Yes, please. The kitchen stays open to midnight. Choo, choooo!

LINK: Wednesday, Sept. 4 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

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