THE VELVET HAMMER BURLESQUE
By Michelle Carr
The Velvet Hammer Burlesque
Based in Los Angeles and founded in 1995 by Michelle Carr, Velvet Hammer kick-started the current era of Neo-Burlesque and caused a furor on stages worldwide. The infamous troupe's shows were a potent cocktail that mixed elements from traditional American Burlesque revues with a post-feminist punk attitude. Their intricately choreographed and elaborately costumed extravaganzas had much more in common with the theatricality and humor of Vaudeville than with the sleazy pole dancers of today. The Velvet Hammer's ever changing crew of male and female performers, acrobats, dancers, comedians and musicians included a wide range of talent including entertainer extraordinaire Ann Magnuson, "Will and Grace" producer and comedian Laura Kightlinger, comedian/actress Mary Lynn Rajskob, comedian Craig Anton, chanteuse Rebecca Del Rio of "Mulholland Drive" fame, musical director The Millionaire of Combustible Edison, writer, poet, belly-dancer and LA punkrock queen
Pleasant Gehman, performer and "Beat The Geeks" host Blaine Capatch, the prolific Dr. Vaginal Davis, performance artists Kerri French, Ron Athey and many others. Pioneering legends Tura Satana, Mamie Van Doren, and Kitten Natavidad also performed with the troupe.
"The Velvet Hammer Burlesque" book presents photographs of the group's voluptuous ensemble of dancers and performers – from their savvy on-stage performances to an intimate glimpse behind the curtain. Vivacious women of all shapes and sizes (the Velvet Hammer troupe welcomed organic individuality) radiated an authentic, raw energy in their routines that mesmerized the audience until (almost) the last shred of clothing was stripped away. Every page of "The Velvet Hammer Burlesque" serves up true rebellious American beauty fueled by a passion for the wilder side of life. "The Velvet Hammer Burlesque:" Published by Die Gestalten Verlag, Germany, 144 pages, hardcover, $60.00, ISBN: 978-3-89955-202-7. Publisher contact: http://www.die-gestalten.de
Velvet Hammer Burlesque photographic exhibition
The Velvet Hammer Burlesque photographic exhibition will feature images spanning the entirety of the Burlesque troupe's existence and features works by Richard Edson, Jody Ake, Manuel Vason, Andrea Oliviera, Hussein Katz, Marie Astrid Gonzalez, Austin Young, Victoria Renard, Susan Anderson, Deborah Samantha, Annie Sperling, Don Spiro, Valerie Davis, Patrick Morrisson, Kevin Merrill, W.T. Nelson, Charchi Stinson, Carmen Luceno and Scott Lindgren. The exhibition remains open until March 2