Photos by Brian Addison. Full gallery below.
Editor’s note: some readers might find the images or content of this story objectionable. Discretion is advised.
“It’s not about desiring us—we’re just a part of the bigger plan,” said Tonya Kay, host of the LaLas’ premiere performance in Long Beach at Downtown's Federal Bar. “And that is to get you guys to go home and have burlesque sex. Unapologetic, steamy, sensual, sexy burlesque sex.”
There is a fine line between erotica and sexual exploitation—and for Kay, the main difference between porn and sensual prodding is the flash of a camera, which she kindly informed the audience to avoid using as they were titillatingly entertained.
Burlesque is as much about visceral inclinations as it is about intellect and play. One can easily watch SaraAnne Fahey—the tall, drop-dead-hot redhead that could make this gay guy go a little straight—and notice the multiple nuances throughout her performances. With a motorcycle helmet and ready-set-go flags in hand, the mixture of not seeing her face with the mechanical masculinity of motorsports offers pure erotica for those who love speed and racing. Then, on the other hand, Fahey’s playful and cheeky ode with fellow performer Ashley Dixon to Mad Men housewives is nothing short of feminism at its finest: unabashedly funny mockery of the position men often force women into.
This balance between respect and empowerment versus outright exploitation, much like the aforementioned porn-versus-erotica schism, is a fine line—but with the professional tailorings of Kay and crew, it is a line that is never crossed. After all, Kay noted that when you are not watching these ladies on stage in burlesque, you seem them in commercials, music videos, and theatre halls dancing their way across screens and theatrical stages.
The dance talents of The LaLas are never underused. One has to just take a brief look at Kay’s water-dripping, jaw-dropping solo to note that her knack for contemporary dancing added beautiful elements to a performance that exuded how sexy humans really are—with nothing but their own body and a prop. Her contorting and twisting on the stage’s main chair paired with her confident, I’m-looking-at-you expressions are nothing short of captivating.
This isn’t to say that subtlety is the only characteristic of the show. In fact, it is safe to say that the Puerto Rican firecracker that is Michelle is what one would call sex on a stage. With a stomach worthy of playing quarters off of and flexibility that reminds everyone in the audience they need to stretch regularly, Michelle’s aura oozes nothing but pure sensuality.
Even beyond their physical prowess as they own the stage, all four women are incredibly talented actresses, using their malleable facial expressions with such as ease that any viewer is torn between looking at their lithe and supple figures contorting into beautiful positions or their face as it makes us both laugh and think the most naughty of things.
For those who unfortunately missed the erotic and captivating performance, fear not: founder Erin Lamont has reassured us that the troupe will return to Long Beach in September.