Q: Can a Goomba or a Koopa Troopa embody the burlesque spirit?
A: Head on down to see “Boobs and Goombas” at Gorilla Tango to find out.
Gorilla Tango is a small theatre located just steps from the Western stop on the El’s Blue Line. According to the press release for their new show, “Boobs and Goombas,” I was about to experience, “a romp through video games past and present,” in which, “Mario and Luigi have become so perpetually frustrated by their endless pursuit of the Princess that everything they see has started to look like a beautiful, sexy woman – even their most dangerous enemies!” I was promised that I would find out “whether the world’s most adventurous plumbers will finally rescue the Princess and consummate years of amorous toil, or be seduced along the way by their alluring enemies.” This sounded like a tall order on which to deliver, and I was intrigued.
The audience at “Boobs and Goombas” was pretty much what I was expecting: a couple of obvious gamers, some mid-twenties women out with their girlfriends, a smattering of older men, and then the largest contingent: 20-something men. As 27-year-old Adam Peterson, a web designer, put it, “It encompassed two of my favorite things: video games and boobs!” It was a small venue, less than a hundred people seated in folding chairs on risers, and the stage was completely bare. Printouts of bricks and ‘?’ bricks were taped onto the wall.
Bozena Mrowca and Caroline Gutowski, burlesque fans, came to see the show as part of an annual tradition — of seeing burlesque shows. Browca liked the show so much that this was her second time seeing it, and she brought Gutowski along for the show. Gutowski enjoys burlesque because, “its kind of like going to a strip club, but without seeing nips or vag.”
In case you didn’t know the difference between stripping and burlesque, this is one of the essentials: in burlesque, you’re not going to see a whole lot more than you would on South Beach. Girls cover their nipples with pasties – in “Boobs and Goombas,” all of them matched the Super Mario character, down to the logo – and keep underwear on. Burlesque also relies on classic ‘gimmicks’ like a fan dance.
The director of the show, MsPixy (most of the women involved in the burlesque scene have other jobs, and use stage names) wasn’t quite sure how to put on a Super Mario burlesque show. When Gorilla Tango approached her, they brainstormed a bunch of ideas, all nerd-themed. Super Mario Bros. was, “towards the top of the list, but I crossed it off because, how could you do that?” By the time a colleague left the room and came back, however, MsPixy already had a list of ideas written down, and so they ran with it. She is ‘so delighted’ with how the project has turned out: “I’ve been at every performance, and I’m still cracking up.”
A great deal of the cracking up done by the audience was in response to Toad, played by Diva LaVida. While the show is centered on the adventures of Mario and Luigi, Toad really stole the show. The ‘items’ in her store cause Mario and Luigi to be paranoid and blurry-eyed, and she had a penchant for taking off her clothes. At one point, an audience member not-so-quietly whispered to a friend, “I love her, she’s my favorite!” Toad responded, without breaking her stride, “I heard that, you’re awesome.” Diva LaVida, self-described simply as ‘old enough’, is actually a first-time burlesque performer. After seeing some other shows and seeing that audition notice that MsPixy put up, she decided to audition.
This show was ridiculously funny. Sure, there were some obscure references to the Super Mario games that only gamers would really get (Mario: I’m a Doctor! Luigi: In one game!) Overall, it is just an enjoyable show to watch. The ‘alternate ending’ that was so widely talked about before and during the show – basically a gimmick to get the audience to fork over dollar bills – ending up being awesome.
Diva LaVida really said it best. “There’s boobs, come on! And Super Mario! What’s not to love?”
“Boobs and Goombas” is currently scheduled to run Fridays and Saturdays at 11pm through October 30th, though an extended release is currently in the works. Tickets at $15, available by calling (773) 598-4549 or at www.gorillatango.com.