Suicide Girls Burlesque Show


Surprise at the Door #1

“We should be there.”

“You’re not,” says the doorman, pointing to the short column of names on the clipboard.

“Try Johnny America instead of ‘Jonathan Holley’,” I urge, hoping for a clerical foul-up, that the zine’s name has been switched with mine.

“Nope,” he says, frowning. I shrug my shoulders at Bryant, who’s standing a step behind me. “Oh,” starts the doorman, “you mean you’re on the girls’ list?”

“Yeah, we should be on their list, not the Bottleneck’s,” I reply, relieved that he’d been looking at the venue’s comp-sheet. I see the tiny stack of names, three high; no “Jonathan Holley,” no “Bryant Bronson,” no “Johnny America.” I glance Bryant and raise my eyebrow, questioning. He looks ready to bolt. Bryant adores indie girls—loves their style—but he’s a budgeter. I’d managed to convince him to see the Suicide Girls traveling burlesque show only by promising free tickets:

“You can do some illustrations, I’ll write a piece for J.A.,” I’d urged, “I’ll write their P.R. and I bet they’ll comp us tickets.” We were expected and appreciated, the S.G. representative had written back—free admission for the indie press. “I still want to go,” I told him, reaching for my wallet, “I’ll buy your ticket if you want.”

“I’ll pay,” he said, trying to fake a frown, “but I don’t want to.”

Waiting for Cuteness

The doors have been open for fifty minutes; the fliers advertised the show’s start time as twenty more. All tables are crowded and the comfortable standing spots staked. We stand by the bar.

“At least the drinks are inexpensive,” I tell Bryant, pointing to the water-cheap double-well special on the dry erase board behind the bar. Two hours later I’m bourbon warm and becoming impatient. Bryant is level and growing intolerant.

“When the fuck is it going to start,” he asks.

“I don’t know,” I tell him, “but it’s getting ridiculous. You wanna go?” As if on cue seven girls stride across the stage, avatars of Adorable, and introduce a band who’s name I don’t catch. “They’ll be on in just a minute,” they say before winking and sauntering back stage.

A few forgettable pop-punk songs into their set, the singer extols, “it’s great to be in Kansas City.” Lawrence, Kansas, is thirty miles to Kansas City’s west. The crowd mumbles and the singer realizes his geography’s off, but leaves his slip uncorrected. The crowd is indifferent toward the mediocre band.


The girls prance on stage, their nipples obscured by black Xs of electricians tap (cheaper than pasties, I hear a mohawked spectator comment). The crowd cheers and indie-adoring Bryant smiles as the show begins. We’ve been standing idle and downing doubles for three hours now, and I am drunk.

The show is a series of acts and vignettes. There’s a surprisingly arousing hula-hoop act. A scene from The Graduate is re-enacted with flair and sass. The crowd’s a blend of frat boys, teenage Goths, and uncharacteristically enthusiastic hipsters—they all seem to love every second of the show. Spying the crowd, I see only grins, cheers, and pointed fingers quickly followed by rushed whispers (“I think I’m in love, ” I picture a mop-topped rocker boy saying to his star-tattooed pal. “I know what I’m going to wear for Halloween,” I imagine a pierced Superstar-in-Training saying to her Plain Jane friend.) The show ends with all the girls on stage, a dozen bottles of Hershey’s chocolate syrup, and the din of a packed bar’s applause. It’s one o’clock. We leave for a final drink at the Taproom.

Surprise at the Door #2

Last call has passed and we’re walking back past the Bottleneck. There’s a crowd gathered in front, circling two joyous men sipping from plastic cups.

“What the…” Bryant starts, before his mouth hangs.

“Oh my,” I mutter, “that’s an unusual sight on New Hampshire Street,” gazing at a stream of urine. Three tipsy, riotous girls are liberating processed booze, now yellow, into cups they’re passing between themselves and this pair of adoring fans.


Bryant still feels slighted by the guest-list foul-up, and has replied, “fuck the Suicide Girls,” every time brought up his long-overdue illustrations. Months late, here is my of the Suicide Girls Burlesque act: these girls put on a show.

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