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Pain and pleasure: SLO Tease Burlesque brings edginess Los Osos show 

Sometimes the sexiest thing you can do is keep those clothes on.

Hear me out: No, this isn’t some cross-your-legs-for-Jesus thing; this is burlesque.  

click to enlarge TWISTED:  At a SLO Tease Burlesque show, performer Ash Rexford’s (Selia Something on stage) pieces might incorporate contortionism, aerial dance, hooping, or a traditional burlesque fan dance. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BRIAN J. MATIS PHOTOGRAPHY
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF BRIAN J. MATIS PHOTOGRAPHY
  • TWISTED: At a SLO Tease Burlesque show, performer Ash Rexford’s (Selia Something on stage) pieces might incorporate contortionism, aerial dance, hooping, or a traditional burlesque fan dance.

Ash Rexford (Selia Something on stage) is a member of the local SLO Tease Burlesque troupe. In most burlesque acts there’s a “peel,” aka the moment when an article of clothing comes off. For the group’s upcoming Darkness show on Sept. 30, Rexford’s costume stays put, but there is a a twisted reveal in her traditional fan dance number. 

“My reveal is much more dark and really leaning into the theme of the show,” Rexford said. “I really like to take the idea of what is sexy and turn it on its head. I like to take boundaries and push people to their edge.”

Rexford has been involved with burlesque since the group’s inception about six years ago. Renaissance fair and Rocky Horror Picture Show aficionado Rick Castello (Rick Castle on stage) decided to do burlesque after a failed show by another local group left some SLO-towners wanting the real deal. But contrary to what some may think, burlesque isn’t a G-rated strip show.

“Burlesque is an art form that’s been around for a long time,” said Castello, who grew up taking dance class to get out of PE. “It’s rooted in dance, but not always. It’s been likened to Vaudeville. Traditional burlesque often comes with a ‘peel,’ where clothes are taken off, but the main point of burlesque is to push boundaries, to make you think.”

Castello is the executive producer for SLO Tease Burlesque and serves as the master of ceremonies at the group’s semiannual shows, featuring more than 20 performers working with a blend of classic and neo-burlesque styles with dancing ranging from hip-hop to modern to traditional fan dancing to hooping and contortionism (courtesy of Rexford). 

click to enlarge WELCOME TO THE SHOW:  SLO Tease Burlesque’s founder Rick Castello serves as the master of ceremonies at the group’s semiannual shows. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BRIAN J. MATIS PHOTOGRAPHY
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF BRIAN J. MATIS PHOTOGRAPHY
  • WELCOME TO THE SHOW: SLO Tease Burlesque’s founder Rick Castello serves as the master of ceremonies at the group’s semiannual shows.

Pieces have ranged from a sexy clown complete with a rainbow wig on top and a rainbow merkin (aka fake pubic hair) below to match, to a housewife sexily baking a cake. Unlike a strip show, the performers are always wearing a little somethin’ somethin’. At a minimum, it’s pasties up top for the ladies and some kind of undergarments down below for everyone. Audience members are encouraged to interact—even yelling and heckling is allowed. 

While burlesque is typically theme enough with the feathery boas, fans, and sultry lighting, the upcoming Darkness show in Los Osos is simultaneously homage to the group’s favorite holiday and the scarier side of things.

“While this is not a Halloween show, it is a slightly darker show, spooky in some aspects, challenging in others,” Castello said. “We’re leading you into a dark room, peeling away the crusty wallpaper, and showing you the dark things behind it.” 

Ready for the full package? SLO Tease Burlesque’s Darkness show will be held Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 at the South Bay Community Center in Los Osos. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. Beer and cocktails (mixed up by Sidecar Cocktail Co.) will be sold, with proceeds from drink sales going to the Cancer Support Community of the California Central Coast. Tickets are presale only and range from $20 for general seating to $200 for a front row table for six. Visit sloteaseburlesque.com for more information.

Ryah Cooley is ready for the show with a cocktail in hand at rcooley@newtimesslo.com.

 

 

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