Last week Big Gay Hudson Valley told you all about the upcoming performance of Alpha Psi Ecdysia scheduled for this coming Thursday night, May 14th at Joe’s East West in New Paltz.
Not being able to wait until this coming Thursday to learn more about the neo-burlesque troupe based right here in New Paltz, BGHV invited a member of the troupe, Et Tu Boote, to join tell us a little more about what its like to perform in near next to nothing for throngs of adoring fans.
BGHV: Now, Et Tu Boote, please tell me a little about how you found out about the burlesque troupe?
ETB: Well, SUNY New Paltz had a special club expo earlier this year, so I went to go and check it out. While I was there, I stumbled across this one table that was surrounded by girls in feathered boas, and I just had to check that out!
BGHV: Sounds like a troupe of Drag Queens to me!
ETB: No, it really was a troupe of girls – long white gloves and everything – who were part of Alpha Psi Ecdysia. I was intrigued, so, I started chatting with the Director, and she mentioned that she was always looking for new members. I did not see any men that were part of the troupe, so I asked if I could be involved, and she explained that men are always welcome.
BGHV: There are apparently not a lot of guys, eh? Why is that?
ETB: I feel its more of a social barrier issue; I quickly learned that men are not exactly in high demand in the burlesque genre, and I think that they are also intimidated by the idea of burlesque.
BGHV: How many men are involved with Alpha Psi Ecdysia?
ETB: Well, there’s myself; Spartacus Rising, White Wolf… uh, 1 2, 3, 4, Yeah, about 6 of us total.
BGHV: What about the sexuality of the group’s members? Is it all over the board?
ETB: Our members run the gamut. I am the only consistent gay male performer, although there are quite a few lesbians that are part of the troupe too.
BGHV: Well, that’s great that you can bring together all these people from such a wide variety of backgrounds – and in atmosphere that can be so sexually charged!
Can you please tell me about the mindset behind burlesque?
ETB: In my opinion, it’s just so liberating – and its just something fun to do. I can make them (the audience) laugh and turn them on at the some time. Some of the performances are more comedic, and some are more strip teases. I enjoy both aspects of burlesque; as I enjoy making people smiling, and it gives me a chance to express my creativity.
BGHV: When people think burlesque, they think about the 30’s; big band orchestras, swing music, etc. But it’s now 2009 – How do you modernize burlesque?
ETB: We have a live band, but we also use some pre-recorded more modern music, and some even play the piano. That said, we also have members of the troupe that sing their own songs.
BGHV: Now, when we first started chatting, you mentioned something that you called the “burlesque shave”. Tell me a little about that.
ETB: A few days before each performance, we all joke about the burlesque shave, and when the various members of the troupe have time to “groom” prior to performance. Basically, its just getting rid of any and all body hair that you don’t want to show off as part of the act. It’s mainly done by the girls, but I usually take some time to prepare as well.
BGHV: I was going to say; in looking at the photos on Facebook, not all of your male troupe members are so groomed.
ETB: Oh yes, I am the only guy that does the full shave, as you’ll see, some of our other male members – pardon the pun – Spartacus Rising for example – are very furry.
BGHV: Oh yes, he’s a furry, furry, man! So, you’re “follicle phobic”?
ETB: Yes, (laughing) I am certainly follicle phobic. I was actually late to the interview today because I taking care of the pre-show shaving ritual!
BGHV: Now how many performers are part of Alpha Psi Ecdysia?
ETB: We’re close to 60 members – but that can vary based on the time of year, where we are in the semester, etc.
BGHV: Do you pay to be involved with the troupe? Is there a membership?
ETB: No, we don’t have to pay to be involved, but we do have to pay for our costumes, etc.
BGHV: Well, I have seen what you wear when you perform, so I can’t imagine it costs a lot!
ETB: You’d be surprised! A lot of the outfits – corsets alone – can cost hundreds of dollars! Many of the girls get them custom made, and that can really cost a lot! In addition, we make most of our costumes. For example, we recently hosted a pasty making night.
BGHV: Well, that’s very generous of you.
ETB: Yes, thank you. I have made someone else’s pasties. Making nipple covers on a Friday night is always a great time!
BGHV: How does the SUNY leadership feel about the troupe?
ETB: We have full backing from the college. I mean New Paltz is all about being open-minded, trying new things, and switching things up!
BGHV: Well, it’s exciting to see that there is so much diversity here in the Hudson Valley. Just the other day I read about Kings of Fire – a local troupe of Drag Kings – that is also based in the New Paltz area. Readers can check them out here on Big Gay Hudson Valley.com.
So, tell us a little bit about your character; Et Tu Boote.
ETB: Well, he’s is a dark character. Et Tu Boote wears a lot of black, and he’s very mysterious. Typically, he’s seen wearing a fedora, fishnets, and black suspenders. Sometimes, I’ll wear a pair of black pants that cut just about up to where the sun doesn’t shine. In general, the audience should know that Et Tu Boote is a love them, and leave them type of guy.
BGHV: What will people see at the show?
ETB: We encourage everyone to do what they are comfortable with. For example, if girls go topless, they have to wear pasties, etc. We’re working to dissuade people from the idea that burlesque is just about stripping; its more of tease. We don’t want to give away all the goods up front for free. Again, this is a form of art.
BGHV: You’re next show is this coming Thursday, right?
ETB: Yes, doors open at 9pm, and the show starts at 10pm.
BGHV: Now, you showed up with an oversized Burberry bag full of costumes. Do you mind showing us some of the looks we might see later this week?
ETB: Absolutely! Let’s take some photos! (Please see the embedded photos, taken by BGHV’s Stephan)
BGHV: For those wanting to check out the guys and gals of Alpha Psi Ecdysia live on stage, their next performance is scheduled for Thursday, May 14th at 9pm at Joe’s East West on Main Street in New Paltz. Ages 18 and up, $10 per person.