Review: ‘The Velvet Hammer Burlesque’

Maintaining an entertainment tradition that their grandmothers shrank from even acknowledging, the hip chicks of L.A.-based revue the Velvet Hammer Burlesque twirl their tassels and shake their martinis for no one but themselves. Augusta's docu mixes performance footage, staged skits, behind-the-scenes interviews and miscellany into a fun package that should amuse Cocktail Nation types and other ironic nostalgists.

Proudly maintaining an entertainment tradition that their grandmothers likely shrank from even acknowledging, the hip chicks of L.A.-based revue the Velvet Hammer Burlesque twirl their tassels and shake their martinis for no one but themselves. Mono-monicker’d Augusta’s docu mixes performance footage, staged skits, behind-the-scenes interviews and colorful miscellany into a fun package that should amuse Cocktail Nation types and other ironic nostalgists. Direct DVD sales rep likeliest commercial destination.

For several years, “neo-burlesque” troupe VHB has performed in theatrical venues to raucous audiences. Allowing “no fake body parts,” their “pre-lapdance stripping” emphasizes creative expression and sheer esprit — not hard-bodied perfection. Thus there’s room for myriad torso types (from the zaftig to a genetic “little person”) in routines that are elaborately costumed and often retro-kitschy. For variety, well-edited pic offers intertitled “chapters” addressing important questions (“How much glitter do you eat in a year?”); spotlights the vaudevillian show’s intentionally awful comics (“Booing and I go back a long way,” one boasts); plus stand-alone miniatures like a mock 1930s musical short subject and B&W drive-in spoof “Attack of the 50 Foot Stripper.”

The Velvet Hammer Burlesque

Production

An It's a Chick Prods. presentation. Produced, directed, edited by Augusta.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Augusta, Don Spiro; music, the Millionaire, Eban Schletter, Kristian Hoffman, Anthony Sunseri. Reviewed on DVD, San Francisco, June 25, 2004. (In San Francisco Lesbian & Gay Film Festival.) Running time: 84 MIN.

With

Michelle Carr, Rita D'Albert, Teri Geary, Annie Sperling, Halle Pickering, Pleasant Gehman, Hope Urban, Selene Luna, Melissa Duke, Dionne Barens, Kate Valentine, Linda Martini, etc.

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