Review: The 3rd Annual Titty 500 at The White Rabbit Cabaret (night one)

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Two years ago, the inaugural two-night “Titty 500” held at Indy’s own White Rabbit Cabaret in Fountain Square attracted big-name burlesque performers from the Midwest and nationwide. Already an established local event, this year’s draw for night one included Chicago’s Dusty Bahls, Tila Von Twirl and Dahila Fatale and Muncie’s Margot Lugosi.

To wave the green flag, White Rabbit boss bitch Alabaster Betty and the Rocket Dolls took turns to shout the praises of Hoosier burlesque talent. The always professional Patsy Blue Ribbon melted hearts with only a shoulder shrug and an eyebrow raise. Vagina Woolf heated things up with a chair and a steamy X-rated outtake from “Flashdance.”

Desiree De Carlo – Photo courtesy of Schwebach Photography

Margot Lugosi, the spicy showgirl from the Wild West, had all cartoon wolves present whistling and banging their chairs on the table. And Desiree De Carlo’s verdant green feather number emphasized everything sultry and extravagant about her as a performer.

The host, Indy comedienne Gwen Sunkel, was cheeky and on point, regaling the crowd with raunchy asides and ribald encounters with porn star Ron Jeremy. Her outfit screamed vulgar Southern belle at the Kentucky Derby with one message for both veterans and newcomers: that the Titty 500 is decadent and depraved, and that’s just what’s so damn great about it.

Gwen Sunkel – Photo courtesy of Schwebach Photography

The Chicago contingent opened the second half of the show with Dusty Bahls, a disco- dancing heartbreaker and Devil-doppelganger in a number that attracted the most laugh-cheers of the evening.

Dusty Bahls – Photo courtesy of Schwebach Photography

Other Chicago talent included Tila Von Twirl who stepped straight out of a Bettie Page fetish film and did a vamped up strip out of a flowing dress that lived up to her name; Dahlia Fatale, the contortionist whose number was a dangerously sexy and elegant performance; a Greek statue who came to life as Barbara Stanwyck’s character from “Double Indemnity” and whose flexibility would give Alabaster Betty a run for her money.

Musette the Mistress of Mischief – Photo courtesy of Schwebach Photography

Headline act was Minneapolis’ award-winning Musette the Mistress of Mischief, who closed both halves of the night in spectacular style. Her first act channeled a Midwestern voodoo goddess at Mardi Gras, with fluid graceful movements and a queen-like attitude to match. Closing the evening was a Theda Bara-type number oozing with sensuality, and both numbers featured just plain ridiculously flamboyant costumes, which to be fair is the whole reason for seeing these shows, right?

Boybarella – Photo courtesy of Schwebach Photography

MVP of the night was the Rockets’ own Boybarella whose number was the biggest crowd favorite. In an outfit that suggested he might be one of the slave dancers of voodoo goddess Musette’s, he held his own in an empowering dance that elicited genuine cheers from the crowd not so much for allure (though it was there in spades) but for true empathy and connection with the audience, which is no mean feat.

The overall evening for the Titty 500 nailed the opening night vibe and the metaphorical ladies and gents’ starting of engines. Night one was a celebration of nationwide burlesque talent as well as a tantalizing promise of burning tires for a strong final lap at Saturday’s show.

Titty 500
Night one’s performers – Photo courtesy of Schwebach Photography
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