Of all The Scandelles’ productions with theatrical ambitions my favourite is the first theatre piece the troupe ever did, Neon Nightz, a fictitious memoir of Sasha Van Bon Bon’s time as a stripper in Montreal in the 1990s. The production’s mix of storytelling and dance keeps the focus on Sasha’s skill as a writer — her keen observations, generous heart and big brain — and her winning stage presence. When twinned with the dancing of Kitty Neptune, it’s an unbeatable combination.
A reworked production of Neon Nightz with a grand set that includes two 16-foot stripping poles and live music by Countess Christsmasher (of ProCon) opens the new season at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.
Anyone who has ever caught Cat’s act, either with The Scandelles or at the Toronto strip club For Your Eyes Only knows she is one fierce performer — and drop dead sexy. She has that patented stripper gaze, that “I don’t give a fuck” stare down pat.
“I think it comes from the fact that I don’t have any shame,” says Cat. “There is actually a ton of power you have by holding people’s attention in any way when you are dancing on stage.
“When you are a sexual person then use it.”
Sasha and Cat first got together to do burlesque in 2001. Both soon recognized in each other kindred spirits who wanted to push burlesque and dance into new territory. And despite a few new monologues and a church-inspired set by Andy Moro, Sasha is most excited about Cat’s choreography this time around. “The dance in this show has gone through the roof,” she says.
“There are several striking dances in the show,” says Sasha. “The opening one is incredible. It’s all about the first time I went and stripped in a lesbian bar and realized lesbians were as pedestrian in their tastes in women as men can be — the girl who made the most money was the most typical one wearing the Budweiser bathing suit.
“I went in there thinking, ‘Oh, they are just going to love me because I’m one of theirs,’ so noireish and lesbians love some sort of erotic dancer.”
The show explodes a lot of myths about strippers and their clients.
“There are a lot of people who have no idea of what’s going on in a strip club,” says Cat, “absolutely no idea. And if they knew they might feel differently about their husbands, in general, and the women who work in those places.”
“When people walk by them,” adds Sasha, “they would never know that there is sadness and humour and connection and all kinds of really profound and not profound things going on in those places.
“People come into strip clubs for many reasons. I mean the parallels we are making with confession are not unrealistic. People come in and tell you things about their lives that are very personal. And they have a lot of shit to work out and they have no where else to do it?”