Theater: Stripping Down to the Roots

New Burlesque revives the time-honored tease routine as a lively form of self-expression

Before a packed theater in Hollywood, a nude blond totters onto the stage tied up and blindfolded. A hush falls over the audience of several hundred as she begins to flex her arms and whip her torso around like a bronco, until eventually the rope loosens and her hands break free. She sheds the blindfold and slips out of her bonds to reveal a black thong. She glares icily, turns around and slaps her butt. The crowd--especially the half of it that's female--gives it up.

This is New Burlesque, the artistic stepsister of stripping. Performed mostly by and for twenty- and...

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