The art of the strip tease, otherwise known as burlesque, is coming to the San Juans promising an evening of dancing, singing, and comedy.
“People can expect to laugh and feel moved, and overall have a full and diverse live theater experience,” said Paris Original, one of the founding members of the all-male troupe Mod Carousel.
The performance opens in the Isle Seat Theatre March 31, at 7 p.m., and continues with two shows on April 1, at 6:30 p.m. and another at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 are at www.isleseattheatre.com/purchase-tickets. The show is only for islanders over the age of 18. The Isle Seat is located at the intersection of Second Street and Reed in Friday Harbor, in the space currently known as Dance Workshop 2.
According to Julie Hagn, co-founder of Isle Seat, the space was the original dance hall of Friday Harbor, and home to a variety of dance programs. Hagn and Lina Downes are working to re-invigorate the place by hosting workshops, and bringing in glamorous shows like Mod Carousel.
Paris Original became introduced to theater at the age of 12 by a family friend and from theater, his interest developed into musical theater, which evolved to dance and then burlesque.
“That’s a simplified version of events, but it was a natural evolution through the arts,” said Paris, explaining that he just stayed open to where the path led.
Mod Carousel began when Luminous Pariah was inspired to bring a burlesque show to his hometown of Juneau, Alaska. He reached out to fellow artists, Trojan Original and Paris Original, as well as others. The performance was so well received, the group decided it was worth continuing. The troupe now consists of three of the original members, The Luminous Pariah, Paris, and Trojan, and one additional member, Moscato Extatique. The show at the Isle Seat will also include a trio of female guest stars, Seraphina Fiero, The One The Only Inga, as well as singer Caela Bailey.
“There will be a little something for everyone,” said Hagn.
Mod Carousel is known to play around with gender roles. They created a video to Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” swapping gender roles, which garnered so much attention, it was posted on BuzzFeed.
“Performance art can give a voice to any community really, but especially to the marginalized,” Paris said. “Burlesque in particular, with its history of parody can be a powerful vehicle for social commentary, especially through its use of humor and comedy.”
Using parody and comedy, Mod Carousel also made a video titled “Unicorns,” set to the tune of Miley Cyrus “Can’t be Tamed,” as a response to Russia’s “ban on gay propaganda.” Paris said the video, with its over the top campiness was very well received and was shown on BuzzFeed as well. “Unicorns” along with other videos can be viewed on their website.
Each member of Mod Carousel has their own background and talent they bring to the show. Paris Original has created his own form of burlesque blending together his experience in multiple dance techniques, while The Luminous Pariah, has a background as a cabaret performance dancer. Trojan Original is a classically trained dancer, and their website describes his style as, “if a cartoonist captured the disciplined essence of Baryshnikov and the campy styles of a self-aware Schwarzenegger.”
Moscato Extatique integrates his skills as a movement artist and classically trained dancer with his extensive background in color guard, according to the website. Color guard is a form of dance that involves dancing while twirling and doing tricks with a flag. According to Paris, it is taught in many dance schools, possibly evolving out of ceremonial flag bearing, also known as color guard. Moscato Extatique’s performances exaggerate human experiences and transform them into a glittering erotic and choreographic spectacle.
Together as Mod Carousel these four have performed all around the country as well as Europe and Australia. According to Paris, of all the places they have been, Alaska is one of their favorite spots, and they tour there every summer.
“Honestly, attendees can expect to be highly entertained,” said Paris. “Everyone in this cast is very talented and unique in their personal performance styles.”
*Special update: Unfortunately, one member of Mod Carousel, Trojan Original, is unable to make it. While he will be missed, the rest will still be putting on a spectacuar show.