Dead Doll Dancers
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Dead Doll Dancers

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"performers revive modest striptease"

Performers revive modest striptease - and the art of seduction
AL KATRINA, The Gazette
Published: Saturday, December 08
Life, they say, is more about the journey than the destination. Apparently, so is taking your clothes off in front of people. To members of Montreal's thriving burlesque community, it's not what's removed, but how it's removed that counts.

Burlesque, a form of comedic entertainment born in the 19th century, incorporates vaudeville, striptease and slapstick. It's experienced a resurgence since the mid-'90s, and in Montreal, shows are put on several times a month by a variety of troupes and independent performers.

"Originally, it was a form of entertainment for the working man," explains Seska Lee, a performer who runs the Team Burlesque community website.

"It's old-fashioned striptease, but it's a lot more than that."

Lush costumes, live music and comedy acts were hallmarks of traditional burlesque, while the actual striptease was often only "the cherry on the sundae," according to Mademoiselle Oui Oui Encore, a burlesque teacher and co-founder of popular troupe Bluelight Burlesque.

Though modern incarnations still avoid full nudity, they often feature period striptease, complete with boas, as the central element.

The audience also has changed.

"It's often a very pansexual crowd" that includes "urban heteros to queer, gay, bi, lesbian, transgendered and everyone in between," says Velma, a performer with the eight-member Dead Doll Dancers troupe. This could be because burlesque has evolved beyond mere titillation.

"A lot of people are making it political and doing commentary on gender, gender politics and feminism," Lee says.

Adds Mademoiselle Encore: "It's a fun way to talk about sexuality, and how women are really empowered."

Often, body image is addressed.

"Burlesque allows for different sizes and shapes of women to perform," says Velma, who also teaches burlesque.

Miss Sugarpuss, a burlesquer since 2005, agrees.

"I initially got involved because I was tired of casting directors telling me I was too fat," wrote the certainly not-fat performer in an email.

"I decided to reclaim my sexuality and my self-worth as an actor ... and empower women who also wanted to be exhibitionists."

Though the burlesquers might have similar philosophies, their acts differ. Bluelight focuses on elaborate, lengthy and traditional shows staged two to three times a year, featuring 15 to 20 performers.

Lee, featured in Café Campus's Nearly Naked Noël performance on Wednesday, does '60s "go-go dancing, combined with some leisurely striptease from years gone by ... (with) some '80s ridiculousness."

Miss Sugarpuss, currently performing in Tokyo, says audiences should "expect a lot of exuberance, a lot of drinking, and a lot of me doing whatever it takes to get a laugh."

For more information about these performers, visit,,, or

© The Gazette (Montreal) 2007
- Montreal Gazette

"Art for the Zombie Apocalypse"

DANCE: Art for the zombie apocalypse
Dead Dolls can dance!
Tash Kassam
Technically, the term burlesque refers to "an upside down style." To you, me and everyone else, burlesque is the Pussycat Dolls in various states of undress. But for the Dead Dolls, Montreal's self-proclaimed "raunchiest group of dancing zombie girls," burlesque-in its modern and traditional forms-is a way of life. As Velma, one of the Dead Dolls dancer claims, "You don't make any money doing burlesque, that's the reality of it. You gotta do it for the love of it, just like being an actor or a dancer of an entertainer in general, but we do it with a lot of passion."

Although the very nature of burlesque pushes boundaries, the Dead Dolls shock beyond whatever can be expected at a typical show. That, in fact, is the point of these girls: nothing can be expected. Although their show is inspired by traditional burlesque, with vaudeville and classic cabaret integrated into the choreography, they also use contemporary music to inject "a little more rock and roll."

Typicality is anathema to the Dead Dolls. They aim to parody typical sexiness as boring and conventional. Instead, armed with onstage orgy shows and dildos, they distinguish themselves with a newfound, contemporary sensuality and a raw, hypersexual edge. These are not pretty girls in underwear; that image, commonly associated with the burlesque movement into the mainstream, is not what the burlesque community considers authentic.

"People do not necessarily realise the Pussycat Dolls are not, by definition, within the burlesque community, burlesque," Velma said. The popularity of celebrities such as the Pussycat Dolls and Dita von Teese is, however, often viewed by the Dead Dolls as beneficial in developing awareness of burlesque as an alternative entertainment. "[It] is fun to watch, fun to participate with, it's unique, it's interesting, it's different, it's challenging, and for some, it's performance art," she said. Nevertheless, Velma describes the performance of these more mainstream performers as "stripper lite."

The Dead Dolls' Halloween performances promises an eclectic mix of traditional song and dance, burlesque routines, a punk interpretation of the Can-Can and some comedic theatre. Despite acclaim and a serious following in the swinger and fetish communities, Velma stressed that the performance has expanded its appeal to "students and grandfathers, rock and roll folks, the BDSM community, the fetish community… and in between!" The Dead Dolls tend to shock, but on another level, find themselves universally appealing. After all, the zombie look, the makeup and the effects are all one thing, but as Velma claims, "at the same time, we are still the same sexy girls. Or at least we try to be."

The paradox of the Dead Dolls places them in an odd chasm between the old and the new-they pair macabre and sexy; they seduce

while scandalising.

"It's very tongue [in] cheek what we do." Velma said. "To us, we don't find it particularly shocking, but other people really, really, really do."

For an alternative experience on Halloween, the Dead Dolls are waiting. Velma and Co. mark the dawn of a new era, where the alternative is acceptable, and, she hopes, "people will realise that for $10 or $15 people can go out and enjoy a show, and not spend $200 to see Justin Timberlake."

The Dead Dolls perform on Oct. 30 at 9:00 p.m.; Main Hall (5390 St-Laurent), Oct. 31 at 9:00 p.m.; Café Chaos (2031 St-Denis) and Nov. 10 at 9:00 p.m.; Café Cleopatra (1230 St-Laurent). Visit dancers for more info.
- The Mcgill Tribune

"Rot till you drop"

rot till you drop...

Rot till you drop with Velma Candyass
Her schoolmates would dress up as pumpkins or Princess Leia or plastic Wal-Mart witches for Halloween. She would have none of that. She went out as a zombie, replete with messy mascara, dripping faux plasma and a lamb shank hanging from her mouth. She was not like the other children in her kindergarten class.

No surprise that she would later morph into the mesmerizing Velma Candyass, the zombshell and lead hoofer with the Dead Doll Dancers of Travesty Theatre fame. Halloween is not merely a one-night affair for Velma and her cronies. Her troupe has been shaking up body parts and performing the unthinkable for the last week at La Sala Rossa and Main Hall, among other venues, and will continue to do so until Nov. 10 for their grand finale at Cleopatra on the Main.

"We'll rot till we drop," says Velma, making strange gurgling sounds. "Sorry, I just crawled out of my crypt and I have got something stuck in my throat."

Blood? Locusts? She won't say. "It may disgust people."

Nicholas Rogers, author of Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night, was quoted in Saturday's Gazette as saying that Halloween has become "very commercial and tame." Well, I urge Mister Rogers to check out Velma's Halloween shindig tonight at the aptly named Café Chaos on St. Denis St.

No sacrificing of baby goats or turning over of tombstones ... but then again, you never know. However, Velma and the gals will be vamping it up in attire that would make the babes of Victoria's Secret blush. And that would be dressing up as "hot sexy pussycats, as opposed to our usual Berlin-style, Weimar Republic, bad-lingerie look." Their bloodcurdling antics will make those of the Rocky Horror Picture Show gang look like the adventures of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans by contrast. (If unfamiliar with the latter, ask your parents about the prairie exploits of this fabled milquetoast cowboy and his beloved cowgirl.)

"I'm proud to say we've wrested Halloween away from the kids and poseurs," claims Velma. "If we don't send chills down spines, we've failed. We pledge to creep everyone out. We will rot ya!"

On hand for the spectacle will be a tarot reader and fortune teller, doubtless predicting doom. Plus, the most spooky clips of the most spooky horror flicks of all time - Halloween, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Saw (what, no Showgirls?) - will be projected all night long. The Igloo Arsenal combo will attempt to lull patrons into a dark trance with their zombie punk. And, of course, there will be a costume competition; but, be warned, this will be one stiff contest to win.

"Don't forget the free pint of beer for all comers," Velma coos. "Well, it looks like beer anyway."

Those who will be baying at the moon and unable to slip out for tonight's show can catch the Dead Dolls in The Rotting Flesh Revue, Nov. 10 at Café Cleopatra. "It will be an eye-popper with Nat King Pole, pasties, zombshells, drag kings that sing and the incredible Miss Rococo and her jaw-dropping booty dance," boasts Velma. Also on hand will be stand-up Massimo and the Amazing Todsky, "tired of doing his magic only at children's parties. He wants to prove himself on another level. We even heard rumours he may be bringing a goat or two out for the evening."

The Dead Dolls Halloween Show, tonight at 9 p.m. at Café Chaos, 2031 St. Denis. Tickets: $10; $7 if you have a good costume. The Dead Dolls in The Rotting Flesh Revue, Nov. 10 at 9 p.m. Café Cleopatra, 1230 St. Laurent Blvd., $10. Call 514-561-9678.

© The Gazette (Montreal) 2007
- Montreal Gazette

"year that was"

The year that was on stage
Still, 2003 was the year that the new burlesque entered our collective consciousness. Here's predicting that 2004 is the year it truly takes root in our city and we begin to see a Montreal style of burlesque emerge. Travesty Theatre is an outfit to watch, with its Dead Dolls Cabaret, said to "regurgitate the spirit of burlesque." The gauntlet has been thrown down, Montreal.
Posted on Friday January 2, 2004
- montreal mirror

"chri$tma$ Cabaret definately more naughty than nice"

Chri$tma$ Cabaret definitely more naughty than nice
Montreal Gazette
Friday, December 9, 2005

Looking for a little seasonal sanctity this evening? Then don't go anywhere near Cafe Cleopatra on the Main. There you'll find another kind of sock some associate with the season: the satirical Dead Dolls Commercial Chri$tma$ Cabaret.
Yes, from that frolic-filled Travesty Theatre gang come dancing girls with antlers, naked reindeer, cream pies, candy canes, Bad Santa, the Agnostic International Family Choir, the musical stylings of Amanda Schenstead and the comedic stylings of DeAnne Smith. And as an added enticement, audience members are encouraged to toss snowballs at the performers.

Smith, also the host of the spectacle, has an excellent idea of what she's getting herself into: "After having seen the rehearsal for the Chri$tma$ Cabaret earlier this week, I'm booking my ticket to hell in advance."

Any other special requests? "Yes," replies Smith, a transplanted New Yorker who's become a regular on the local comedy circuit. "If I'm going to hell, I want a window seat at least."

"Better book us all window seats," coos the lovely and talented Velma Candyass, lead hoofer with the Dead Dolls Dancers.

That's right. No Barbie dolls here - only Dead Dolls. OK, so the show is a tad sacrilegious.

"More naughty than nice," Candyass opines. "The show flies in the face of most holiday traditions, but it does so in a real fun way, taking shots at the conventions of the holiday season.

"We're just so tired of how crass the season can be and how everyone is expected to be so happy.

"It's just our way to make a statement about the creeping commercialism of Christmas, and an opportunity to give our fans - such as they are - an opportunity to go to a club where the drinks are among the cheapest in town. Really, does that make me a heretic or a grinch?"

Well, perhaps in the eyes of some, particularly with the inclusion of a puppet show featuring the Bad Santa and a few of his reindeer in compromising positions. And what did Santa ever do to Candyass, anyway?

"Nothing at all," she retorts. "And I never did him, either!"

Evidently, Schenstead, who last lived in beautiful Brandon, Man., is not completely aware of what she is getting herself into here. She is comfortable playing mandolin, keyboards and even spoons, plus composing pieces to complement the theatrics of the evening. But she is a little more concerned that she has been asked to dress up like a "granny whore" for the occasion.

"It's art, damn it," Candyass states. "And look on the bright side: There will be no preaching or gift-giving whatsoever."

The Dead Dolls Commercial Chri$tma$ Cabaret takes place tonight at 9 p.m. at Cafe Cleopatra, 1230 St. Laurent Blvd., 2nd floor. Tickets: $7. (514) 915-0674.

- - -

Congrats to Ryk Edelstein, winner of the first Montreal Amateur Oyster Shuckathon, held Monday at Claddagh Pub.

Edelstein, a data communications dude by day, shelled six mollusks in an impressive 42 seconds. Second place went to Misha Franta (56 seconds), while Greg Sams (59 seconds) came third.

Not to denigrate Edelstein's feat, but competition judge John Bil, the two-time North American champ who shucks at Joe Beef, cracked open six bivalves in a blistering 18 seconds.

Bil goes for gold at the Shucking Olympics in Seattle in March.

© The Gazette (Montreal) 2005 - montreal Gazette

"lets get naked:lickety split launch"

Let’s get naked: the Lickety Split launch
Montreal-based smut zine is X-rated, sex-positive, and hilarious
By Linda Issa
The McGill Daily
Arriving at Zoobizarre at a ridiculously early 9 p.m., my friend and I realize that we may just be the only guests so far at this dungeon-like bar. Smut zine Lickety Split fittingly chose this venue for their magazine’s fifth installment. After climbing the treacherous stairs and glancing at the magazine, I notice the random burlesque performers prancing around in their skivvies. My excitement perks as I flip through the magazine, an array of erotic photography, naughty comics, and educational content on how to safely perform and receive oral sex. The thought of reading this magazine as pure porn may come to mind at first, but instead of just seeing cock and ass, I notice a deep sense of innocence and unabashed enjoyment of the body in the spreads.

Amber Goodwyn, creator and editor of Lickety Split, explains this pansexual zine as a venue for artists to collaborate on erotic art. She elaborates that “the line between erotic art and porn is blurred because we promote collaboration between us and the artist.” This year’s Multiples issue provides answers and insights to all your naughtiest thoughts, such as the article entitled “How to Throw an Orgy” by Nick Cabelli, as well as an interview with The Montreal Mirror’s famous sex columnist Sasha.

As people quickly pack the bar, I notice a few of the burlesque dancers, ladies from the Dead Doll Dancers group, are giving away tickets. These tickets, I most happily discover, are vouchers to select any of these ladies for a private lap dance. Bargaining for an extra ticket, without further ado my friend and I are ushered to a secret and much comfier room, where the dancers are gyrating upon unsuspecting ticket holders. I excitedly sit down and am greeted by two lovely women wearing fishnet stockings and stitches drawn randomly upon their bodies. The private dance produced many stares: four women decided to join in the fun. Nothing can beat a freebie lap dance, folks.

After my private show was done, the others moved on to other innocent newbies, bouncing their tassled breasts mere inches from their faces. With all this excitement and sexual ease, it was no surprise that my shirt magically came off towards the end of the night. I was even considering working with these ladies. I then realized, listening to local band Starvin’ Hungry rock it out, that this was Lickety Split’s mission: to create an atmosphere that promotes unbridled sexual expression in a healthy, fun and hilarious setting.

The Dead Doll Dancers will be performing Nov. 10 at Café Cléopatre (1230 St. Laurent). - mcgill daily


using music from Lords of Acid to the Chordettes, DJ Assault, Ministry of Seven and more!



The Dead Doll Dancers are a part of Travesty Theatre,which has been instrumental in bringing live entertainment in Montreal to new lows. Heck we are scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to talent. But hey we have got great legs ,smiles and some of us have amazing boobs poppin' out! The Dead Dolls are probably best known for all the naughty things they do dancing with props and with each other.Traditional retro burlesque is not what we would be described as ...yet... within the choreographies ,one always see a glimmer of a vaudeville dance step or a whisper of a 'classic burlesque ' element . Since February 2000, Montreal’s “world famous” Dead Doll Dancers have been seductively scandalizing audiences with their brand of hyper-sexualized, modern burlesque. Blending elements of vaudeville, traditional burlesque, hip-hop and sketch comedy, they aim to parody boring, conventional sexiness by presenting their own version of theatrical naughtiness. Strategically clad in badass red and black, these delinquent dollies revel in the macabre, and flaunting their bloody battle-scars and sparkling red lips, the Dead Dolls offer a delectably lurid treat for everyone from the not-so-queer to the queerest of queer. Specializing in raucous on-stage orgies, energetic group choreographies, whipping, scratching and humping, their deliciously distasteful debauchery is sure to excite and amaze.