×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Exposed

Vet experimental helmer Beth B turns her all-embracing camera on the alternate burlesque scene in the intelligent and enjoyably outrageous "Exposed."

With:
With: Rose Wood, Julie Atlas Muz, Mat Fraser, Dirty Martini, World Famous *Bob*, Bunny Love, Bambi the Mermaid, James Habacker, Tigger!

Vet experimental helmer Beth B turns her all-embracing camera on the alternate burlesque scene in the intelligent and enjoyably outrageous “Exposed.” Freedom in vulgarity is the motto of performer Bunny Love, and the cast of characters here embody that idea to the hilt, using the stage as a way of challenging “normal” notions of body type and gender. Several performers are familiar from previous pics, including “On Tour,” yet their cogent articulation of their work makes the material feel fresh in all sorts of ways. Brisk sales have been reported following Berlin screenings, and niche arthouse play is a certainty.

As Rubenesque performer Dirty Martini explains, burlesque is about making a statement, whereas striptease is simply voyeurism (her whiz-bang number on American consumerism is a case in point). All the artists interviewed, steeped in identity politics, project their difference on a grand scale, cannily using body type or fixed notions of gender to entertainingly confront auds’ insecurities about their own perceived flaws: As persuasively asserted by Mat Fraser, a British performer with malformed arms from thalidomide, “I become more normal by highlighting my difference.”

Fraser is one of the most expressive of the bunch, clearly expounding on how alternative burlesque upends traditional presentations of so-called freaks to the point where he’s now the P.T. Barnum figure rather than the sideshow geek. The disarming act of whimsically appearing nude onstage allows viewers to focus on the man rather than the disability, turning nudity into a source of empowerment on both sides of the footlights.

While all the characters here could be called misfits, their point is that everyone, in some way, is a misfit. World Famous *Bob* talks about spending her teen years surrounded by drag queens and wanting to be one as well; now freely exposing her female form after several years presenting herself as a gay man, she discusses gender as a choice rather than a permanent assignment. She may not win skeptics over with her reasoning, but her charm is undeniable and her advice to those wondering how to hide their cellulite — cover it in glitter and stick a spotlight on it — can be liberating for anyone overinfluenced by beauty marketing campaigns. For these men and women, pride starts from inside and then, literally, becomes skin-deep.

Beth B enjoyably alternates formal and informal interviews with performance numbers that peak with explosions of anarchic outlandishness. Bunny Love comes on stage as a Southern belle and ends naked, smearing lipstick where Estee Lauder never dreamt it would go. Bambi the Mermaid can be said to put all her eggs in one basket, but it’s Rose Wood’s Hasidic rabbi number, in which he does unprintable things with a Manischewitz bottle, that must be seen to be believed; it’s not for the faint of heart. Tech creds are unimpeachable.

Popular on Variety

Exposed

Production: A B Productions, Schulberg Prods. production. (International sales: Wide House, Paris.) Produced by Beth B. Coproducer, Sandra Schulberg. Directed by Beth B. Camera (color, HD), Dan Karlok, Beth B; editors, Beth B, Keith Reamer; music, Jim Coleman; sound, Sean Garnhart. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama Dokumente), Feb. 9, 2013. Running time: 76 MIN.

Cast: With: Rose Wood, Julie Atlas Muz, Mat Fraser, Dirty Martini, World Famous *Bob*, Bunny Love, Bambi the Mermaid, James Habacker, Tigger!

More Scene

  • 71st Emmys Governors Ball

    Why the Television Academy Plans to Donate Furnishings From the 71st Emmys Governors Ball

    The Emmys’ official after party is set to impress — and to leave a permanent impression. At the annual press preview of the 71st Emmys Governors Ball, the Television Academy announced a partnership with Living Spaces, Habitat for Humanity and the Hollywood Community Housing Project that will provide more than 80 custom sofas, chairs and [...]

  • Gaby Hoffmann, Albert Cheng, Alexandra Billings,

    'Transparent' Team Reflects on Series Finale Without Jeffrey Tambor

    Friday night’s premiere of the series finale of “Transparent” at L.A. Live’s Regal theater felt like a family reunion for the Pfefferman clan. Matriarch Judith Light embraced each one of her TV children (Gaby Hoffman, Amy Landecker and Jay Duplass) and guest stars from previous seasons (Cherry Jones, Melora Hardin, Bradley Whitford) who also turned [...]

  • Game of Thrones Season 8

    'Game of Thrones,' 'Avengers' Win Big at 45th Annual Saturn Awards

    As Jamie Lee Curtis picked up her first trophy ever at the 45th Annual Saturn Awards Friday night, she had a good luck charm on her arm: former manager Chuck Binder, whom she said was the reason she became an actor. “I was in college and had no thought of being an actor,” Curtis told [...]

  • Pom Klementieff poses at the launch

    Marvel Cinematic Universe Star Pom Klementieff Talks Disney-Fox Merger, X-Men Dreams

    Pom Klementieff may have entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe playing Mantis in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” followed by appearances in the last two “Avengers” movies, but that wasn’t her original superhero plan. “My dream was to be in X-Men,” she told Variety on Thursday at the Chanel dinner for its new fragrance Gabrielle [...]

  • Gwyneth Paltrow

    Gwyneth Paltrow to Be Honored at amfAR Gala Los Angeles

    Gwyneth Paltrow and art dealer Larry Gagosian are set to be honored at the 2019 amfAR Gala Los Angeles. The American Foundation for AIDS Research announced that the two honorees will receive the Award of Courage for their commitment in the fight against HIV and AIDS as well as for their other humanitarian efforts. Christina [...]

  • David Mandel Sam Richardson

    'The Handmaid's Tale,' 'Veep,' 'When They See Us' Writers Honored at Emmy Nominees Reception

    Ava DuVernay (“When They See Us”), David Mandel (“Veep”) and Bruce Miller and Kira Snyder (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) were among those honored at the Television Academy’s Emmy nominees writers reception on Tuesday night in North Hollywood. There, ceremony hosts, “Escape at Dannemora” star Eric Lange and “Veep’s” Sam Richardson, kept the show moving by tossing in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content