Angie Pontani and her burlesque troupe return for the 10th annual Burlesque-A-Pades at the Birchmere (3701 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria, Va.) on Valentine’s Day (Tuesday, Feb. 14).
The show, dubbed Loveland this year, features Pontani and several New York-based performers such as Albert Cadabra, the Peek-a-Boo Revue, sister Helen Pontani, the Maine Attraction and more. Most hail from New York, but joining them will be MC Cherie Nuit, a Baltimore resident who works in both burlesque and as a college educator and administrator.
“As a performance artist, I love that it breaks down the boundaries of sexuality,” the Chicago native says. “I love that I can explore a variety of subjects through sensuality and use my body as a political weapon. Also I love to get naked, so that’s a plus.”
Nuit, the show’s “stage kitten” manages Burlesque-a-Pades and offers banter between acts. She’s been performing burlesque for five years and is especially looking forward to this year’s performance. A serious car accident prevented her from doing Burlesque-a-Pades last year and she’s thrilled to be back. Tickets are $29.50 for the 7:30 p.m. show. Details at birchmere.com.
Nuit lives in Baltimore’s Remington neighborhood with her partner, Pat Brennan. She enjoys painting, sculpting, hiking and hanging out with her burlesque family in her free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I have been out for eight years, and honestly, it was the hardest to explain to my mother. As someone that is both self-labeled as queer and pansexual, it was challenging for my mom to understand. She is a wonderful woman and I adore her, but she still struggles with it to this day. It is surprising, because she’s surrounded with drag and performance art, but she only sees the binary of sexuality.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
As a performer with a passion for comedy, I am always so proud to see women like Jane Lynch or Kate McKinnon kick ass in the field of comedy! I was told when I was in high school that women couldn’t be funny and that I couldn’t be sexy and intelligent. I pride myself on breaking that stereotype through everything that I do in my art and actions.
What’s Baltimore’s best nightspot, past or present?
Oh gosh, how I miss the Hippo! I have so many memories of waking up with whiplash from overexertion and dancing at the Hippo. Currently, I am loving the Crown for performance art, queer DJs and some delicious kimchi fries!
Describe your dream wedding.
Lots of booze, plenty of dancing and a thick layer of glitter on every surface. Although, to be honest, I used to be a wedding floral designer, so I am a little over weddings. Sorry y’all.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
I am particularly passionate about rights for sex workers. It is an outrage that in this country we cannot provide emotional, physical or financial safety for those within the sex worker community.
What historical outcome would you change?
Two words: NO TRUMP
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
As a performer in the burlesque world, it’s so delightful to see my dear friends showing up as “naked lady #2” or “sex shower girl” in many popular TV shows. I think we’re proud to represent the sexy, naked, sparkly universe. In the world of “Netflix and chill,” I find endless joy in being able to say, “Oh, did you watch the last episode of ‘Orange is the New Black’? My friend was the one banging Nicky.”
On what do you insist?
Dialogue and the power of compassion.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
I posted a flier and photo for my upcoming show next week in Alexandria, Va., at the Birchmere: “Burlesque in Loveland starring Angie Pontani and a bevy of beauties! I’m so excited for the show because it features a cast from across the East Coast. It is one Valentine’s Day tradition that I would be devastated to miss out on!”
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Fight for the rights of all of those who will now be pressured by their family, religious groups, societal communities and peers to adhere to a sexuality that doesn’t align with their heart. If this was to take place, we would have a hard battle ahead of us and I would be sad when the insurmountable pressures that youth would face as a result.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I believe in the laws of cause and effect, and how this manifests karmically and scientifically.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Now, more so than ever, we must strengthen our stance and act as a voice for those who don’t have one, or are afraid to speak up. Fear is permeating the country, it’s our job as individuals in the public eye to take a firm stance. In the words of Maya Angelou, we must “stay angry, but never bitter.” We must use that anger to fight and allow our love for humanity to propel us forward.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
Cheese? I’m a really big fan of cheese. I would do a lot of things for cheese. But really, I would walk across hot coals to fight for what I believe in. I’m not the sort of individual that can sit complacent while so much injustice permeates our nation.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
Am I allowed to just say “The L Word”? We don’t all sit around at the juice bar gossiping like mean girls. I’m not even sure I know where the closest juice bar is. Maybe you can tell me, maybe I’m just not plugged in enough to know where these juice bar friends are.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Blue is the Warmest Color” gave me some serious feels recently. However, that being said, “The Birdcage” and “Velvet Goldmine” are pretty much on constant loop in our household.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Having previously worked in the wedding industry, I pretty much think that most customs tied to weddings are antiquated and mildly offensive.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
I have a fully rhinestoned banana on a pedestal in my home that I won for a burlesque act I did wherein I had a talking Fannypack vagina. Mull over that for a little bit.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
Stop straightening your bangs.
For everything that it is and everything it’s not. I love Baltimore for the gaps it leaves for growth and the space it provides for nurturing creativity.