Dear Constant Reader,
Most years for Halloween, we present our haunting cabaret, The Wrathskellar. This year, for various reasons, that just wasn’t going to happen. Scratch decided to present Panties Inferno, a cheery jaunt through Hell. Rather than a revue, the show had a plot and a script. Artemisia played the Dante-like character, while Scratch was not exactly her Virgil.
It was a nice change of pace to do a one-night show instead of a run that’s weeks long and also to do a show that was mostly comedic instead of angsty. From the audiences’ comments afterwards, it sounded like we achieved our goal: fun, funny, and entertaining.
And the show completely sold out.
I don’t think I can do the entire show justice, but I’ll do my best. It’s probably going to get long… I wish I had photos to merrily intersperse amongst the text, but we’re terrible about that. If you are or know a photographer or videographer who’d like to shoot a show, drop me a line!
Artemisia began the show, lost in the woods, where she encountered 3 ladies in gauzy draperies, dancing in the woods.
Devastasia, Gin-ni, Nicole: Virtuous Pagans (“Booty Swing”, Parov Stelar)
This is one of our staple group numbers. This time the dancers wore the aforementioned gauzy and sequined draperies and carried wooden staves, as befit bucolic virtuous pagans.
Artemisia: That’s Life
Resigned to her plight, Artemisia sang this old standard.Before she knew it, she had attracted a native guide willing to leader her through Hell. That would be Scratch (in his signature red zoot suit). The first denizen of the deep she spied was from her home state of Massachusetts!
Mina: Lizzie Borden (“Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing”, Chris Isaak)
This is an old, old number of mine — I created it for the second year we did Out for Blood. You can see some elements that I later used in my bathtub act.
Scratch had Artemisia tie his thumbs together with Infernal Pipe Cleaners and proceeded to accidentally make the impossible happen. Unfortunately, his magic attracted a more powerful sorceress.
Devastasia: (“Ding, Dong The Witch is Dead”, Ella Fitzgerald)
This is an adorably perky number that Devastasia created for our show in Salem. She did most of the lovely costuming herself, from purple fringed gloves to illuminated spider panel skirt.
Mina, Gin-ni, Valerie: The Leopards of Lust (“Strip Blues”, Johnny Staccato)
Long time fans will have recognized this as the second half of an act we usually call “Factory Girls”. I had less time to get ready after my first act (because I had to dry off) than I though and was putting on my jewelry in the wings. I failed to properly clasp my necklace and realized as we were doing the bra remove, that it was sliding off. I admit I kinda screwed up the choreography (really noticeable in a number this tight) because I was trying to grab it before it fell off.
Betty: The Succubus (“Nightmare”, Artie Shaw)
This was the debut of this number. Betty, bathed in red light, dances and strips behind a door of jagged and broken slats. She’s partially visible, partially in shadow. It’s quite amazing. We’re hoping to get video of this one.
Artemisia: (“Everything Goes to Hell”, Tom Waits)
Seduced by the dance The Succubus, Artemisa performs her own striptease. Realizing what she’s done, she flees the stage.
Artemisia: Creep (PMJ arrangement)
Remorseful of her previous behavior, Artemisia tells us all how she feels about herself in a song, while showing off her impressive vocal range.
Gin-ni: (“I Want to Be Evil”, Eartha Kitt)
Gin-ni tries to convince Artemisia that being bad isn’t so, well, bad.
Devastasia: The Raven (“A Most Unpleasant Way, Sir”, Gordon Bok/ “Dark Eyes”)
Poor Artemisia, briefly abandoned by her guide, is set upon by a large and unpleasant bird. This was also an act debut and I just love it. The music selection, concept, and costume design were all Scratch, but Devastasia brought it to life. The first piece of music is a folk story-song about a man cursed with a vulture and Devastasia slowly transforms Artemisia into the bird.
Here it’s decided it would be better if they just took the Hellevator down to the bottom. This gag had Scratch & Artemisia just standing on stage in a rectangle of light for roughly an eternity while Muzak played. The audience couldn’t stop laughing.
Betty: Lilith (“You’re the Boss”, Brian Setzer)
This one of Betty’s first numbers and it’s only gotten better with time. Inspired by vintage performer Lorraine Lane, Betty dances with the Devil. I may be biased, but Betty is the best modern performer I’ve ever seen do this specialty style.
Mina, Nicole: Mistress and Maid (“Experiment in Terror/Stalkin'”, Impala)
This is second half of a number created for The Wrathskellar that I used to do with Brigitte. A naughty maid tries on one of my dresses and gets punished for it. I love this act because I get to spank someone with a hairbrush and I get to wear The Diva’s fabulous coat.
Scratch: Magic (“Sexe”)
At this point Artemisia is doubting everything Scratch has told her, even that he has magical powers. Using said magic, he conjures gifts and trinkets for her from thin air. She declares she’s not staying in Hell a minute longer. Of course, she’s about to be wrong about that, as demons flood the stage to tempt Artemisia to join them.
Artemisia, Betty, Devastasia, Mina, Valerie: Finale (“Hell”, Squirrel Nut Zippers)
This is really and truly our earliest group number. Betty created it for the opening of our very first full-length show. Over the years since then the costumes have improved and the choreography has become more complex. It was a bit of a brain twister for me because I’ve been playing Artemisia’s part for years, but I still had a little muscle memory of the original time I dances as a demon, twelve years ago. Needless to say, it’s not the same choreography at all.
After we swamped Artemisia and swept her off stage, Scratch gave an Epilogue to the audience. I have no idea what it was as we were getting dressed again for the curtain call.
The show was a lot of fun and some really good new acts came out of it. It was also kind of frantic, before and during. We had a limited time to rehearse, especially the group numbers, and there weren’t two rehearsals in a row with all the apprentices present. Everything was moving so quickly backstage that I didn’t even film my usual behind the scenes video for my Patrons. Scratch did post this video to Facebook, so you can get a taste.
Two more shows to write up!
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