Heat of the Night

Do you remember the first time you encountered evening entertainment specifically aimed at adults? We’re not talking about porn, but the kind of performance—be it burlesque, certain forms of drag, pole dancing, or any combination of the many related art forms—that allows artists to play with and poke fun at sex, gender and human bodies in ways for which most daytime entertainment just doesn’t have room.

Maybe you grew up with Dita Von Teese’s enormous Champagne glass bath routine, like local burlesque performer Aluna Bun Bun. Maybe it was John Waters’ collaborations with Divine that inducted you, as was the case for drag king Adam Bomb. Or perhaps you were just lucky enough to be raised by an artistic community—like that of drag queen Mona Chromatic, who was born into a household of costume designers—where such explorations were a part of everyday life.

Even if you’ve only ever seen a striptease onscreen, your opportunities for real-life titillation have likely never been so rich in Santa Fe. With multiple performance troupes celebrating anniversaries this summer, plus a bevy of Pride month events in store, there’s something to up the temperatures of everyone from quietly curious newcomers to longtime aficionados. Aluna Bun Bun, a longtime dancer at burlesque troupe Zircus Erotique and Meow Wolf’s Bedtime Stories cabaret, understands this sudden flowering of revues as an aftereffect of quarantine.

“I think with us being so separate, it became very clear what everybody wanted,” Bun Bun explains. “You’re like ‘Oh, now that I’m by myself I’m understanding that thing I used to go to every week, I never liked.’ [Now] I’m seeing these shows where there’s drag and there’s pole and there’s burlesque—and there’s comedy and there’s poetry.”

Whatever the reason for this renaissance, the growing Santa Fe scene is notable for a level of cross-disciplinary inclusivity hard to come by elsewhere.

“There is a rift even within that small community of drag. [But] we subvert a lot of people’s expectations of how drag went into burlesque and now it’s kind of coming back together,” Adam Bomb notes.

As the emcee and organizer for drag collective Roadrunner Runway, Bomb plays a key role in behind-the-scenes decisions pushing for more multidisciplinary revues.

“Within our producer meeting last week, we were talking about ‘neo- neo-burlesque,’” Bomb says, “so the actual performances and the genders of the people performing it are in sync.”

Neo-burlesque saw artists in the 1980s and ‘90s exploring the queer roots of an art form that in its initial heyday lived largely in the closet. But for many practitioners, the boundaries between disciplines stood firm throughout burlesque’s second wave. Now it seems the shared goals underlying much of burlesque and drag are becoming more central than their diverging skill sets.

“You get to become another person temporarily,” explains drag performer Mona Chromatic.

Known out of drag as grayscale-centric visual artist Dylan Pommer, Mona Chromatic performs with both Roadrunner Runway and its less drag-specific umbrella organization, Quiver and Tempt Society.

“I’m a cis straight guy—it’s something that isn’t exclusive or being gate-kept,” Pommer continues. “It’s just a way to explore what’s inside of you. Like a Russian nesting doll of characters.”

To folks who’ve never attended such a show, however, it can be intimidating to wonder what might emerge in them as the layers come off. For those brave virgins, it’s helpful to remember that both burlesque and drag have roots in centuries-old clowning traditions—silliness is, after all, an inescapable part of sexuality. You can look to the performers for tipping etiquette, as well: Someone with 6-inch heels and a carefully choreographed routine probably won’t come off the stage to take cash, whereas many Roadrunner Runway performers will gladly trade spanks for bills. Ultimately, enjoyment should be a matter of trusting the experts onstage. They’re there for you.

“I want it to feel like everyone’s welcome to this party,” Bomb tells SFR. “[First-timers] know it’s maybe going to be a little racy and a little blue, right? It might be a little scary. So you want to put them at ease, and say, ‘No, you’re gonna be safe here. You’re gonna have a good time.’”

Upcoming Drag and Burlesque Events

Genderqueer Reveal Party

When Quiver and Tempt Society first burst onto the Santa Fe scene, it telegraphed its overtly queer intentions with a Genderqueer Reveal Party. In celebration of one year of stripping off gender roles, the troupe is reprising that performance with a few surprises beneath the pasties.

7 pm, Friday, June 16 and Saturday, June 17, $15-$25, none turned away for lack of funds Wise Fool New Mexico, 1131 Siler Road B quiveranttemptsociety.com

Sunday Get Down Drag Brunch

OK, OK, this one isn’t technically a nighttime event. But it is dark in the theater, and the monthly performers (primarily high femme queens with local DJ support, although you’ll catch the occasional king as well) led by host Brandi are enough to get even the sleepiest heads up.

Noon, Sunday June 18. $20-$50 Jean Cocteau Cinema 418 Montezuma Ave., (505) 466-5528

Drag Bingo

Organized by the Santa Fe chapter of the Human Rights Alliance, this monthly participatory event combines the abuelita-ish joy of loteria with the charisma of drag emcees. It’s a low-stakes way to dip a toe into the scene while interacting with performers.

7 pm Wednesday, June 22 Free admission, $20 for six cards Opuntia Cafe, 1607 Alcaldesa St., Ste. 201 (505) 395-6243

KINGDom Santa Fe Pride Show!:

NM Drag Kings, House of Steele Productions and Queerly Nutz Entertainment gather the state’s masc drag royalty to honor queer liberation’s most important month—and we hear they’re bringing cheeky presents for a few lucky attendees.

7 pm Friday, June 24. $30-$70 Jean Cocteau Cinema 418 Montezuma Ave., (505) 466-5528

Zircus Erotique

New Mexico’s longest-running burlesque troupe, now under the velvet glove of Mena Domina, mixes old school-influenced tease routines with deliciously comedic choreographed numbers.

7 pm Saturday, July 15. $25-$70 Jean Cocteau Cinema 418 Montezuma Ave., (505) 466-5528

Bedtime Stories

One of the freest-spirited showcases in the Meow Wolf multiverse, these seasonal neo-burlesque revues have been known to feature everything from stripping coyote acts to sexual sword swallowing. With “Ice cream you scream” as the summery act inspiration, you can expect plenty of dripping at the upcoming edition.

8:30 pm Thursday, July 13. $27-$30 Meow Wolf, 1352 Rufina Circle (866) 636-9969

Older Post Newer Post