Cora Vette (aka Reyna Von Vett) never knows what'll come out of Santa's mouth. "It's usually dirty," she says. "And then I yell at him, and then he goes to the bar and drinks.
"Lecherous Mr. Claus," she concludes.
Burlycute veterans might remember an incarnation of Naughty Noel last year, but don't expect a lot of repeat activity tonight when the show opens at Bender's, 314 13th Avenue. "My idea is that once we get a year's worth of great stuff, then we can bring the shows out yearly -- but they're totally not the same, because everybody had a year to think about it. Everybody is so excited about what they're doing. When my little Burlycuties don't get ideas, then I know no one is feeling passionate about the theme. So right now what's happening to me today is I'm having too many ideas. I'm like, 'Oh crap, I'm not really going to be singing ten songs.'"
Which is a smidge disappointing, because Von Vett's voice carried her through a musical theater career; she can belt out show tunes (and Christmas songs) like few others in Denver. But that just means there will be more time for her Burlycuties -- including Denver burlesque queen Vivienne VaVoom, Anabella LaFontaine, La Petite Morte and others -- to shake their stuff on stage.
"There will certainly be repeat elements," Von Vett reveals. "Everyone knows Vivienne VaVoom's style; she's been doing it for years and they know exactly what she does. Whereas you've got Anabella, who's certifiably insane -- not really -- but she loves doing crazy stuff. I love having both those elements in the show, because you have vintage classic style, with over-the-top theatrics, with singing, with dancers, with cute-as-a-button La Petite Morte. I'm really thrilled with the group of people we have.
"What I'm really excited about is us being able to do is smash the theater elements into burlesque. We call Al" -- Reyna's husband, theater veteran Al Varney -- "Mr. Cellophane, because if he's doing his job, you don't even know he's there. I wish we had a bigger budget and our own space, but for us to be able to land at Bender's Tavern again is something I'm really proud of. The quality of production that we're able to ramp up and land for a day here and there is really cool. It's sort of like we're able to, in a day, put a theater inside Bender's Tavern, and that's what we always strive to do. I've decided this is like a new version of theater in a bar, so I'm not sure if it's theat-ar, but it belongs in a bar. It's fun to be in a bar, but it's a level of production that's like a show that you're going to see at another theater in town.
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"I'm really, really proud of it," she adds. "We could totally travel with it. We could tour. But all of us have jobs and some of us have kids, and this is where we live."
So what can you expect to see at the show? "Vivienne's doing her Snow Queen act, which is a gorgeous white pouffy princess of the world. And we do the crossdressing, strip-teasing, sparkle number, where Santa strips, but a female, pretty Santa as opposed to the fat guy. Anabella La Fontaine will be Oscar the Grouch with a striptease number called 'I Hate Christmas,' because if you do all happy stuff for two hours, people will vomit. Frangelica Love is doing something to a Latin Jewish Hannukah song. We try to hit all points -- those who love Christmas, those who hate Christmas, those who don't celebrate Christmas and those who can't pronounce Christmas. La Petite Morte does a number to 'Sex and Candy' as a peppermint candy with pasties on, so she's got a giant foam peppermint candy that she has tassels and pasties on, that's always fun. As you can see, there's not a lot of repeat.
"I do think that if you're putting together a show, if I'm ever done early, it's because I didn't do enough. I'm tweaking and gluing and fixing and finishing till I'm walking out the door."
She's feeling the Christmas spirit -- and last year's Naughty Noel was hysterically funny, so no doubt the ladies will be in top form after a year to reconsider, rewrite and redo their numbers. It starts at 8 p.m. tonight; there will be one more show next Thursday, December 23 -- just in time for Christmas! Tickets are $10 in advance at www.benderstavern.com and $12 at the door.