Imagine living the dream: Led Zeppelin as a life soundtrack, beautifully choreographed orgies with beautiful people all the time, and a maid to clean it all up afterwards. That dream was brought to life at House of Thee UnHoly, a 90-minute epic “rocklesque” show at The Triple Door. Produced by Paula Now of the Swedish Housewife, choreographed by Seattle’s Waxie Moon, and performed by Seattle’s best and brightest burlesque darlings, the program, now in its first staging since 2011, runs through Sunday.
Raunchy, psychedelic sex was the flavor of the day, and 1970s rock n’ roll became the cherry on top. The musicians—the Mighty Arms of Atlas on instrumentals, and Sirens of the Rocks on vocals—fueled the show with Led Zeppelin tunes. Smoky powerhouse vocals and rock guitar riffs propelled the show from one tastefully choreographed communal sexual act to another. And those acts had different themes too: from fish to vikings to bees to beautiful people in sporty underwear.
Although the show isn’t meant for the easily offended, it’s safe to say that it isn’t all just orgies. Through decadent costumes (courtesy of It’s Mark Mitchell and Lisa Marie) as well as set design (Jim Guerci and Chris Ford), UnHoly transports viewers to the 1970s. This was a decade that most youth of the time thought of as a glittering utopian era where consequences do not exist, and UnHoly delivered that essence. The show was separated into unrelated sections connected by a french maid (cheekily played by Red Delicious), who cleaned up clothing, equipment, and even “bodily fluids.” The use of short vignettes, each more raunchy than the previous, created a kaleidoscopic, dreamy effect filled with sex, drugs, and artistic expression—just like in the (somewhat mythical) 1970s.
Seattle burlesque regulars such as Miss Indigo Blue, Lily Verlaine, Inga Ingenue, and Paris Original, among others, captivated the audience with their energy and impeccable individualistic presence. While the pairings and relationships within the show were gender blind, there existed an overarching celebration of womanhood and femininity. The room glowed as Verlaine danced a Hindu goddess act with matching divine presence. With her grace and strength, she exuded an enthralling feminine power while doing a Shiva-inspired dance with plenty of balanced poses on one leg. Her arms moved slowly but surely, and with enough power to move a metaphorical mountain. In another scene, Ingenue and Blue danced a lemon-infused (literally—they were squeezing lemons) strip duet that was overwhelmingly erotic and highly athletic, yet also sweetly intimate. The result was magnetic, not to mention entertaining (spoiler alert: handstand twerking and tassel-twirling were involved).
Even with the celebration of femininity, the men were far from sidelined. Their talents were equally showcased. Waxie Moon, who choreographed the show, had his shining moment when he stripped his cowboy gear and started touching himself. Suddenly, five people appeared and catalyzed an orgy. Widespread legs, layered bodies, and slow, tactile movements became evocative motifs, with some balletic lifts thrown into the mix at times. Moon wasn’t in this particular orgy scene in the original production, but in an interview with 21st Century Burlesque magazine, producer Paula Now said “it made so much sense to include him.” And indeed, he played the sexually curious character with an air of mystery but also a strong whiff of humor.
Another particularly vivid moment was the finale, when all of the burlesque artists danced nude (with pasties) using feathery blossoming ostrich fans. One intricate formation followed another as the dancers fanned their feathers in various directions. Here, the group became more than bodies, conjuring images of feathery, majestic butterflies flying high above the clouds.
Despite the strength of the dancers and the intricately choreographed sex and stripping sequences, some of the suspense went on longer than necessary and, counterintuitively, without much buildup. At times, before the inevitable moment when the performers either stripped or reached their climax, the audience was left checking their watches as the choreography flatlined. Thankfully, a few long moments later, the performers jolted the audience back to life.