Mixing naked chicks with science fiction is a long-held equation for marketing success. Burlesque performer Red Herring (aka Reena Smith) is doing just that with Babes in Space: The Wrath of Thong, Star Trek vs Star Wars. Local girls and boys will strut their stuff in themed-costume teams in an all-out battle for sci-fi supremacy.
 
“The superiority of Star Wars versus Star Trek is an ongoing debate in the sci-fi world,” laughs Smith, a marketing specialist by day and self-described “huge nerd.” “My idea was to pit the two against each other in naked form and let audiences decide by applause which franchise reigns supreme.”
 
The Kingston-born, Toronto-based performer staged the first Babes in Space last year as a one-night-only event at The Rivoli. But the venue was too small to accommodate the crowds, so she’s moved to Revival and added a second night. Audiences can expect burlesque interpretations of C-3PO, Princess Leia, Han Solo and Captain Kirk, among others. Also on the bill are local drag queens Daytona Bitch and Heroine Marks.
 
“Burlesque dancers are basically heightened versions of women, and drag takes that even further,” she says. “They’re hot and hilarious and know how to work a crowd. I think burlesque dancers can learn a lot from queens. I hope there’s something they can get from us, too.”
 
Smith wants her performers to both honour their source material and stay true to the roots of the form.
 
“Burlesque started as satire and a space to examine politics and other contemporary issues,” she says. “Nerd culture has so many tropes and clichés that it’s easy to pander to. But I’m not content with someone taking off their top while waving a lightsaber. Nerds are smart and know their stuff, so it has to be relevant to the series.”   
 
Smith sees a relationship between the increasing popularity of burlesque and the ever-expanding availability of porn. When voyeurs can see any imaginable sex act online at the click of a mouse, giving control back to the performer as burlesque does can often be far more titillating.
 
“Porn has evolved to the point where things like double-penetration and gangbangs are commonplace,” she says.  “Burlesque is all about the tease, which you rarely get with porn these days.” 
 
“Don’t get me wrong -- I love porn,” she adds. “But burlesque has better outfits. We do wear the same shoes, though. And just like in good porn, in good burlesque the shoes stay on the whole time.”
 
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