The contemporary take on classic adult entertainment has become an AyCee institution
It’s been many years since Allen Valentine gave up a career as an illusionist to become a casino-revue producer. But judging from this year’s iteration of his wildly successful The Burlesque Show, he continues to create magic.
In this case, said wizardry is his ability to keep a now-seven-year Atlantic City show business tradition fresh and interesting (not to mention extremely entertaining), despite keeping the same basic elements upon which the program was originally based.
There are several reasons why The Burlesque Show, which is scheduled to run Thursdays through Oct. 31 at Borgata’s Music Box theater, hasn’t outlived its welcome.
The first is the concept: Bring a popular mid-20th-century entertainment form to contemporary audiences. Given today’s slavish attachment to political correctness, a show that glorifies female sexuality would seem to be misguided at best and offensive at worst.
But the young women who perform striptease routines do so in ways that are anything but demeaning. Theirs is an artform like any other, and the featured entertainers —with wonderful stage names like Trixie Mink, Medianoche (which is the name of a Cuban sandwich, of all things), Renee Rebelle, Piper Marie, Madam Mystere and Rosie Cheeks — are always tasteful as they strip down to G-strings and pasties (nudity is a no-no in New Jersey establishments where alcohol is sold).
To put it another way, the women ably demonstrate the huge difference between sexy and raunchy, and are the perfect examples of the genre.
Which brings us to the next ingredient in the show’s formula for success: Its not-so-secret weapon, comedian Jeff Pirrami.
Pirrami, the self-proclaimed “Fat Rat Bastard,” is the very definition of raunchy. His expletive-filled routines (the target of which is usually himself) are the sort that makes one think “This guy is juvenile and just plain silly” as one wipes the tears of laughter from one’s eyes. That the rather heavyset comedian has a wonderfully comical visage only serves to make his turns even funnier.
Pirrami is also featured in several funny “blackouts,” which are very short skits that essentially bring old jokes to life.
The Burlesque Show, which is open to those over the age of 21, also incorporates traditional casino production show elements that are all but extinct in today’s Atlantic City. This time around, the featured acts are the aerialist team of Hannah Risner and Brian Ferre and the brothers Shane & Collin Miclon, whose inventive, entertaining juggling routines will even impress those who prefer root canal to watching jugglers.
Finally, The Burlesque Show benefits from the skill and dedication to the onstage product Valentine and his creative team — choreographer Jillian Reed, costume designer Kristine Valentine (Allen’s wife) and creative manager Linda Voermans —bring to the table. Working with what is likely a relatively modest budget, these backstagers have created a classy, high-level presentation that provides a winning 90 minutes of adult entertainment.
Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa, 1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City; 9 p.m. Thursdays through Oct. 31.