Thursday, May 10, 2012

Babes in Boinkland: From Rags to VEGAS!

Boston's own Babes in Boinkland are heading to Las Vegas to compete at the 22nd annual Burlesque Hall of Fame weekend. W00t!

Founded in 2006 by The Slutcracker creator Vanessa White (aka Sugar Dish), the Babes did not initially plan on becoming a full-time dance company. Lucky for us, they decided one show was not enough.

Since their first day out, back in April of 2006 at the Middle East Downstairs, members have performed around New England and New York, Los Angeles, Montréal, and even Honduras. They have shared the stage with Weird Al Yankovic, The Beach Boys, Amanda Palmer, and Richard Cheese & LATM. They have graced the stages at Somerville Theatre, American Repertory Theatre's Oberon, The Wilbur Theatre, Boston Symphony Hall, Boston ICA, House of Blues, Bowery Ballroom, and more.

Following the break is the Story of BiB, as told by Sugar Dish (re-posted with permission) from the Babes in Boinkland blog.

The Babes have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund their trip to Vegas. Check it out!

To keep up with Adventures in Boinkland, you can follow the Babes on Twitter and Facebook, and you can stop by their website for photos, videos, and more blog posts about their adventures.


Back in 2005, I (Vanessa, soon to be known as Sugar Dish) started working for Boink Magazine, a now-defunct soft-porn magazine founded by a journalism student at Boston University. I worked initially as a model, then as a writer and editor. I wrote erotica and porn reviews for the magazine and edited submissions.

When the magazine was getting started, we would throw parties at clubs around Boston to try to drum up some attention, and BOY did that work... but not in the way intended.

These parties would regularly get busted up by police under the charge that they were lewd sex parties.

Inappropriate Sexual Conduct! Indecent Exposure!

You ready for the funny part? These parties were no different than any other dance club party, except that they were actually tamer, primarily because they got broken up before most people were inebriated enough to even brave the dance floor. It was total nonsense, and was clearly only happening because the parties were associated with porn.

So the tiny Boink Magazine staff had a meeting. They brainstormed ideas about how to have a launch party for the new issue and NOT get broken up. I suggested that rather than throw a party, we instead put on a show.

What kind of show? they asked.

A burlesque show! I replied.

Earlier that yea I had visited New Orleans where I saw a burlesque show. It wasn’t my first, but it definitely took the cake in the my brief experience. I had felt inspired to give it a try. However, I didn’t know it would come about quite in this way...

GREAT! Can you get one together in 6 weeks?

Um.... Sure? I mean... I think so? Um... <PANIC>

I wasn’t really sure where to start. I had no connections whatsoever to the kinds of people I thought might be interested in taking their clothes off in front of an audience. Having been a classically trained dancer in a previous life,
alI I did know is that I wanted dancers.

So I hit up craigslist and MySpace and a local exotic dance studio. I held auditions. I found 4 dancers who would ultimately come to be known as Abby Normal, Bella Sapphire, Honey Suckle Duvet, and Machete. And me, Sugar Dish.

Because this show was being created as a one-time event in support of the magazine, Machete suggested the name “Babes in Boinkland.” And thus, the Babes were born.


We had our big debut on April 6, 2006 at the Middle East Downstairs and we 
performed to an audience about 500 deep. It was exhilarating! Amazing! Wonderful! Beautiful! And SEXY as all hell.

I had made the very deliberate decision to create a contemporary burlesque troupe: one that maintained the spirit of traditional burlesque, but which used current music, themes, and dance. We performed group numbers and solo numbers, all to the music stylings of artists like Prince, Gwen Stefani, Kelis, Def Leppard, G. Love, Queen, Tweet, and so on. We had made a show, from nothing, in six weeks. And that was that.... Or so I thought.

A little less than a year later, I contacted all the ladies to see if they wanted to do it again. I was met with a resounding “HELL YES!” We also picked up the woman who had performed as a go-go dancer at our first show, Pixy Dust, as a corps member.

We performed our second and third shows also at the Middle East, and made a pit stop in between the two at the first Boston Burlesque Expo in 2007, where we garnered a decent amount of press and started booking gigs like crazy.

We started performing regularly with Jerkus Circus, dancing at benefits and booking private events.

We competed at the 2nd Boston Burlesque Expo in 2008, and took home the prize for “Best Group.”

In 2009 we captured the Boston Phoenix Reader’s Poll award for “Best Dance Performers.”

The Babes have moved from producing variety-format shows to focusing our efforts into larger, coherent works like The Slutcracker, Abbey Road, and Beaver, though we can often be spotted performing as part of other producers’ showcases as soloists and ensemble members. We’re constantly working to create new material and better our performance skills.

And now, as you know, were heading to Vegas to show the burlesque community at large what we’re made of. VEGAS OR BUST.

We’ve come a long way, baby, and we have YOU to thank for your love and support!

Sugar Dish
and Babes in Boinkland


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mary Dolan Chews and Screws!

interview with Mary Dolan, by Sugar Dish
You've seen her perform with All The Kings Men. You've seen her wield a dildo in The Slutcracker. You've seen her host Bent Wit Cabaret and do stand-up at the Women In Comedy Festival.  I'm speaking, of course, of the legendary 86-years-young Mary Dolan

But what many of you may not know (TRIGGER ALERT: I'm about to tell you there's no Santa Claus...) is that Mary Dolan is a character created and portrayed by Jill "Petey" Gibson.

RIGHT?! Amazing!

Petey and Mary are heading to Los Angeles in June to attend the Groundlings school and to take a crack at the glamorous life in Tinsel Town. Sparkletown Productions is producing a show to fundraise for the trip, featuring a slew of Hubba-Hubbies!

Happy Trails!
A Send-Off to Mary Dolan
Sunday May 6. 8pm
2 Arrow Street, Cambridge
Get your tickets HERE.

Petey and I had lunch last week and I thought I'd share with you our conversation about the genesis of Mary, what Petey is hoping to find, and what she'll be sad to leave behind. Enjoy!

SUGAR:  When did you start performing as Mary Dolan?

PETEY:  I started a version of Mary Dolan about 5 years ago with All The Kings Men... the character slowly evolved, slowly started to get a voice, the costume got better... And now it's perfect. ;)

SUGAR:  Is she based on a person or did you make her up out of thin air?

PETEY:  A lot of her qualities are based on my grandmother, Mary Gibson, who did vaudeville revival shows in the 70s at the Orpheum in Foxboro. My grandmother was a big fat lady who used to do Sophie Tucker numbers with a bulls-eye on her ass. And when she died, I inherited her costume trunk.

SUGAR:  Did your grandmother ever get to meet Mary Dolan?

PETEY:  No, very sad. She did not live to see Mary.

SUGAR:  What has been your most memorable experience as "Mary"?

PETEY:  Ugh. So many... Auditioning for Last Comic Standing was slightly degrading, but also sort of fulfilling since everyone there was such a douchebag. My last night as Mary at The Slutcracker was super, super emotional... But you know, the first thing that occurred to me when you asked this question--which has nothing to do with performing--I was dressed as Mary, walking the streets of Provincetown, and a little girl--maybe three, maybe four-- broke away from holding her mom's hand, ran across the street and grabbed me around my knees and started saying "Nana! Nana!" I just stayed in the road and hung out with this girl for a couple of minutes. It was one of the first times I felt like "Oh. Mary's real." That everybody relates--a child sees their grandmother. It was so amazing that that happened! Luckily the parents were cool...

SUGAR:  That's way better than the time a little kid ran up and asked me why I was wearing my underwear outside.

PETEY:  Exactly the same! Children will always call it like they see it!

SUGAR:  Do you ever feel weird about having 2 personas? Especially where a lot of people have no idea that Mary is a character played by you, Petey Gibson, and that she's not an actual person? And do you ever feel competitive with Mary?

PETEY:  There's no competing with Mary. Mary has 3 times the amount of Facebook friends that I have. Mary's better in every regard... better in bed, I'm sure.... It is weird. I mean, it's super gratifying that people buy into this person, and I worked very hard to keep [Mary and me] separate on purpose, and then I slowly began to realize "Uh-oh. I'm not going to have a career if nobody knows that this successful thing that I do is some anonymous [person]." But people don't want to know, also.

SUGAR:  It's like telling someone that Santa Claus isn't real.

PETEY:  It is! It's a very willing suspension of disbelief. I told a guy one time, because we were having this conversation about how great Mary was, and I finally said, "You know, that's me." And his face just died. So that was me trying it out and it didn't work very well.



PETEY:  So delicious.

SUGAR:  Mmmm hmmmm. So you're gearing up to go to Los Angeles, to make it in Hollywood, to go to the Groundlings school. How much of this plan has to do with the Mary character? Is Mary something you're looking to develop in L.A.? Do you want to develop a larger body of work? What is your intent with this career move?

PETEY:  So, I'm going to the Groundlings school, and there I hope to develop more depth in more characters. Mary's very well fleshed-out, and then I have a couple of characters which are kind of "there"; I have their costumes, I know their basic points-of-view... but nothing really touches Mary in terms of popularity, or people connecting with them. I'm also looking to figure out how to perform as myself and get my improv chops up. I'd love to start a weekly comedy show hosted by Mary.

SUGAR:  What prompted you to make this move, exactly?

PETEY:  What really got it all started was that Nate Greenslit of Bury Me Standing went to highschool with a guy who now works at CBS, and told him about Mary. He thought it sounded great, and asked that I send him a reel. So Evan O'Television put together this amazing reel for me (embedded above during the commercial break) and when the guy saw it, he said, "When you come to L.A., let's have a meeting." And I was like "Yeah right. When I come to L.A." Then I was like, "Wait a minute. CBS is telling me something. The Groundlings is in L.A." Everything seemed to be going together, so I figured out how to get to L.A. with my partner at the time, had a meeting at CBS that went really well, met with their head of casting, then I got into the Groundlings... it just felt like that right-time right-place moment. And it seems crazy thinking about leaving Boston, but I want more. I want to be on TV. I want to really be focusing on my comedy career. And L.A. is where you go for TV and movies. So hopefully I'll find a bigger stage and, you know, a more mainstream audience. I'm really in love with my underground audience, but I also don't want to just preach to the choir. I would love to be a huge out-queer on Saturday Night Live as Mary Dolan. That would be awesome.

SUGAR:  Have you thought about the repercussions this is going to have on ME?


PETEY:  I have reflected on this. Have you thought about what happens when I get famous and I need a #1 burlesque dancer on my nightly show? Just sayin'.

SUGAR. Awwww.

[making out]

SUGAR: I heard there was this show happening this weekend in your honor called "Happy Trails"? A send-off? What's that about.

PETEY: I have to tell you, I am so excited and also a little scared about this show.  The first half is hosted by Mary Dolan and is a bunch of my favorite numbers from the Boston arts community. The second half is hosted by Liz Fang, and I have no idea what is happening content-wise. Apparently weirdos in the community are doing things...

SUGAR: I have no idea what you're talking about.

PETEY:  Content-wise I think the show is going to be amazing. It's all my favorite talent from the last 7-8 years. I think it's going to be a celebration of where the community is at, too, because we all push each other in new and great directions. We all built this together. That sounds cheesy.

SUGAR:  That's fine. I totally agree.

PETEY:  I'm afraid I'm totally going to cry.

SUGAR:  You are totally going to cry.

PETEY:  I'm gonna get hammered at intermission.

SUGAR:  Me too.

PETEY: Oh nooooo. No more threatening me!  ...This sandwich is so good....

Comedian and character actor Petey Gibson is the creator of beloved 86-year old character Mary Dolan.  As Mary, Petey has hosted Boston's hit series, Bent Wit Cabaret, for two years; originated the role of Auntie Drosselmeyer in bawdy ballet satire The Slutcracker;  and performed stand-up at Gotham Comedy Club, NYC's Comix Comedy Club, Mottley's, ImprovBoston, and The Women in Comedy Festival 2010-2012 among many other venues. As a member of the award-winning comedy troupe All The Kings Men, Petey has traveled internationally and brought a whole cast of characters to diverse audiences.  In Boston, Petey has produced, written, and performed in countless shows, including the sold-out smash The Mary Dolan Show.  This summer, Petey heads to The Groundlings School in Los Angeles.