Ivan Kane's Male Burlesque

Ivan Kane's Male Burlesque

by Cristina Velocci
04.03.2008

 

When nightlife impresario Ivan Kane first opened Forty Deuce burlesque club in Los Angeles in 2002, skeptics wondered whether this antiquated art form would be able to hold the attention of jaded club goers. Six years later (and an expansion into the Vegas market at Mandalay Bay), and all heads are turned towards Kane, waiting to see what the man who brought striptease back into the mainstream has yet to unveil.

If the dozens of imitators that have cropped up across the country continue to mimic Kane’s innovation, we can expect to see a whole lot more men in burlesque clubs—that is, performing on stage.

Enter Kane’s latest creation, Stormy Monday, the first weekly all-male burlesque show that became a regular part of the Vegas club’s repertoire on Monday nights at the beginning of March. “I wanted to expand into the next big thing,” explained Kane. “For me, that was doing striptease with guys, but staying within the same production value, level of dancing and choreography that my club is famous for.”

The show begins as soon you as you walk in the door, with male dancers writhing in the club entrance window. From there, enter an interactive experience: from the go-go dancers on the tables where patrons sit for drinks and bottle service, to sultry group numbers, to spectators getting up on stage and dancing. “Our shows always seem to give the patrons permission to explore that sexuality and it just becomes this big bacchanalian experience,” said Kane. “For me, especially during these crazy times, it’s a good way to spend a couple of hours.”

Though male reviews are nothing new to Vegas, where Stormy Monday differs from its Chippendales and Thunder from Down Under cousins is in its approach: whereas the latter appeal to a bachelorette party and ladies’ night crowd, where women are 99 percent of the demographic, Stormy Monday is looking to tease a different audience.  “We’re really looking for something primarily appealing to the LGBT community,” said Kane. “With some fallout being women who appreciate hot guys.” The show also promises to be tactful, never crossing the line into crass or exhibiting nudity. According to Kane, “We’re going in a very different direction. It’s choreographed much more around their dancing abilities.”

To help showcase this, Kane called upon choreographer Tovaris Wilson, whose moves have been performed by Britney Spears, Vanessa Carlton, Janet Jackson and the hyper-sexualized Pussycat Dolls, and with whom he had previously worked to create his pioneering Royal Jelly burlesque show, which swaps the traditional jazz combo for a live rock band and five dancers instead of one. Together, the pair created Stormy Monday, workshopping it in front of an audience for a brief period of time in LA before officially debuting it at its permanent home in Vegas.

“Tovaris is one of the fiercest dancers I know, and when he gets up on stage and shows how it should be done, he’s setting the bar very, very high,” noted Kane. “Not just anyone can cut it at the club, because not only are my standards incredibly high, but his choreography is complicated and you need to be paying attention.”

In order to find top-notch talent, Wilson and Kane put out a call for male dancers, sifting through hundreds of applicants in a series of auditions before whittling the numbers down to the final six. Kane credits the large turnout to his reputation within the industry. “Dancers want to work for me. I create a venue where they can shine as the star even though these dancers are used to backing up other artists.” The end result is what Kane refers to as “the crème de la crème of dancers in the Las Vegas community who work with every major artist who passes through town, from Cher to Toni Braxton to Bette Midler.”

Aside from the gender of the dancers, Stormy Monday differs from Forty Deuce’s other shows in that it’s set to contemporary music with the DJ taking center stage to create a dance party vibe. Otherwise, you can expect the same experience within the club’s smoke-stained walls that you would on any other night. “Good choreography is good choreography, and it has to be organic to the song,” said Kane. “Hot is hot as far as I’m concerned, these guys are hot.”

What’s Next
Despite recent setbacks (Kane’s plans to open an Ivan Kane’s Forty Deuce club in the Lower East Side of New York City fell through), the nightlife mogul will make his first foray into the restaurant business when he opens Café Was, a hybrid eatery, piano bar and lounge in Los Angeles in early May. Further building the brand name, he’s in the process of conceptualizing and designing a boutique hotel called the Tarantula Arms, as well as expanding the Forty Deuce empire to Paris, Moscow, Singapore, Shanghai, London, Miami and San Diego’s Gas Lamp district. As for the world of burlesque, eyes will be trained on Kane’s next Vegas show, which will center on funk, using original vocals and live music, including a horn section.

Find out more at www.FortyDeuce.com

 

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