Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Cafe Nine’s Burlesque Bust

Photo Cred: Stephanie Bergeron

For a theatrical entertainment movement that was born in the Victorian era, the concept of burlesque is not a commonality in the 21st century. With that said, the general audience is apt to misconstrue it as raunchy, or too hot to handle.

Having a hairpin of a clue about burlesque, I decided it was best to go out of my comfort zone and attend a burlesque act. After all, I had been awkwardly dragged to the Gold Club once, so I was naturally curious to see how the two were supposedly different.

As I freed my Saturday evening to attend Cafe Nine’s burlesque act, I pumped myself up, fantasizing that it was going to be an unforgettably wild night, and not just some walk in the park.

Burlesque, in simplest terms, means “in an upside down style.” It encompasses a hodge-podge assortment of clothing fashions with parodic concepts, and is meant to be particularly witty, often at times mocking the social attitudes of the upper classes. The working class society clashed with aristocracy often, and because of these tensions, a rather lowbrow humor followed suit.

Due to a social crackdown on the burlesque scene in the 1930s, the shows began to dissipate, and with the downfall of burlesque came the birth of striptease. With help from women wishing to keep the tradition alive, neo-burlesque was formed, which is the type of shows displayed presently.

As night fell onto New Haven, I opened the door to Cafe Nine and, quite frankly, couldn’t believe my eyes. If you thought I was talking about being engulfed in a crazy party, you are sadly mistaken, for the show had yet to begin. What confused me was the fact that the place was a crawlspace, and the stage nestled in the corner was definitely not going to fit the spectacle I had in mind.

A man made his way around collecting the $10 cover charge for the event, and I noticed the small bar being swallowed up. People were packing themselves into the place like sardines; I was trying not to be claustrophobic.

Meeting one of the dancers, Leroi, I felt a little reassured that the night would go smoothly. She looked as if she had stepped right out of the 19th century with a hair wrap and a floor length faux fur coat. When one of the managers received word that I was a first timer, he exclaimed, “Oh, you’re in for a treat!”

It wasn’t a treat, it was a down right headache, and even after five vodka cranberries, I couldn’t get over the fact that I didn’t have a buzz, and that the performance was 45 minutes late. My side was then being attacked by a woman’s long, bushy hair as she danced to every single song being blasted while we waited. Then, as luck wouldn’t have it, a stocky bald man jutted his glutinous maximus into me as he danced his way to the front of the crowd. My patience was wearing thin as my personal space had disintegrated.

The presenter, who had as much face make-up as a clown, finally took the stage. While nothing particularly witty sticks out in my mind, she was, for lack of a better word, “cute.” Her rather brief segment ended, and the first dancer emerged onto the stage, having fought her way through the jam-packed crowd.

“She is hungry for lesbians!” shouted the presenter as Leroi the Girl Boi began her routine. Leroi’s costume was out of this world: a mixture of Asian and Mexican culture had seemingly taken shape on top of her head, an extravagant headdress that was beyond words. The complexity and aesthetic wonder of it left me to ponder how long it took her to build such a piece. Matched with the headdress was a long, furry yellow cape, which she used to her advantage as she stripped off underneath, leaving the audience wondering if she’d show us the end result. After a mere three minutes or less, the cape came off, the boobie tassels twirled, and that was that.

It was Maiiah the Mistress of Serpents that left me very uneasy about being in such a confined space that could have easily had the fire marshal called upon. In the middle of her act, she pulled out a huge, live snake. Her act ended, and with the snake still slithering around her shoulders, she slowly made her way through the packed audience; bumping the snake into people and freaking them out. What I wouldn’t have given at that point for someone to have fainted, but in all honesty, what if something had happened to the snake?

As I struggled to see what was going on over taller limbs, I caught mere glimpses of the three acts, which spanned out to be what, a whole ten minutes? The presenter then announced that there would be an intermission. I thought to myself, “Are you kidding me? An intermission? That was nothing!”

I couldn’t stand to wait around for the next segment, there was no way. I was miserable, and the fact that I had spent over $30 to put up with these annoyances was weighing heavily on my thoughts. Agreeing that it was time to leave, we had the most difficult time getting out of the place; the crowd was so heavy set and unresponsive that it took a whole ten minutes to walk across a few feet of floor to the exit.

If you want to go see showgirls, (which these dancers were most equivalent to) go to Las Vegas. If there is an act somewhere locally, check to see if the venue is large enough. Or, just don’t go anywhere and look up porn on the Internet you’ll be all set.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Find a Friend at the Connecticut Humane Society

Some say the bond between human and pet is everlasting. In a world piled high with financial responsibilities, animals are becoming increasingly overlooked in the grand scheme of things. Relocation, debt, or long hours at work make people question their ability to take care of their feline and canine companions.

The Connecticut Humane Society has three different adoption centers around the state in Newington, Waterford, and Westport that take in animals that are of any size, shape or form. Giving up a pet can be a difficult task, but the humane society welcomes pets with open arms.

“Owners come in telling us they can no longer care for their pet and we take them in and find them a new home,” said the Society’s Public Relations Director Alicia Wright.

For prospective new pet owners, the humane society should be the first pit-stop. With an annual adoption rate of 90 percent out of 9,500 pets, it is almost certain that upon a visit, one will inevitably fall in love with one of the sweet, adoring creatures the society houses.

These unique, one-of-a-kind animals need extra love and care for what they’ve lived through; each has a separate story, whether it be a relocation, behavior, or medical problem. After an individual walks in and picks their new friend, the staff of the CHS has an interview with them to see if they are capable of handling the pet.

“We look to make a match be- tween the owner and the pet so we can avoid the pet becoming homeless a second time,” said Wright. “One of the main things we look for is if the person understands the basic financial responsibilities and what kind of experience they have with animals.”

Wright made a strong point of calling these relocations “forever homes,” because that is the main emphasis; it would be heartbreaking for the animal to end up back at the society.

The pets at the three facilities come from all over the state of Connecticut, and some picked up from animal control. CHS has also been working with a few shelters down South, where there is a very high rate of euthanasia.

An overwhelming pet overpop- ulation problem exists in the southern states. “It is just insurmountable,” said Wright, who spoke of the lack of access to veterinary care. “It is more difficult for people to practice spay/ neuter.” Shelters are faced with growing numbers of animals trying to find homes, and in worst case scenarios, have to euthanize healthy, adoptable pets.

“We started to work with them to expand our outreach services, have more animals available for Connecticut residents, and above all, place more animals for adoption,” said Wright. The Connecticut Humane Society is also paying certain veterinarians down South full salaries to educate them on how to spay and neuter in hopes of decreasing the problem.

Endless success stories pile into the humane society and are chronicled in books available to owners upon their visits to read and be inspired from.

One of the more recent success stories involves an older woman crippled with the passing of her pet and with her own medical problems, which were causing her to become too much of a homebody.

She visited one of the locations every day in hopes of finding a new friend. “Our staff continued to work with her, and one day, it just happened,” Wright said. “She came in, the perfect pet was there, and she adopted it.”

Since then, Wright told of how the pet helped the woman become more involved in her community. “We gained an amazing friend,” said Wright. “She gained a new pet and a renewed lease on life.”

The big question on most perspective owners’ minds might be, how much are adoptions? Puppies ($110) are the most expensive, while kittens are $100, adult dogs are $80, adult cats are $70, and small animals are $30. The cost includes spay/neuter, vaccinations, and if the animal came in with health conditions, they are stabilized or cured.

Now with that said, you may be planning on bringing home a new addition to your home, whether you’re a single owner, or a young couple. Wright has advice for young adults, especially if they’re just graduating, buying a new home, or committing themselves to a new job. “Think about time management,” she said. “If you are going to be out of the house for 12 plus hours, you may want to consider an easily manageable pet rather than a dog or cat.”

She urges people to do their research on realistic costs, especially when one may be juggling student loans and rent on a new job’s salary. “Having a pet as a member of the family, it is a huge commitment. Do your research and are you’re more likely to be happy with your end result,” said Wright.