A fan favorite of NYC’s burlesque scene, Abel Rey has a lot to show you this Wednesday at Monster’s “Bacardi Party!”
Thotyssey: Hello Abel, thanks for chatting! Happy Pride! How’s June treating you so far?
Abel Rey: June has been wonderful so far. I was in Fire Island last weekend with the boys. Lots of great events coming this week.
Pride aside, summer is probably the best time of year for a performance artform that requires the removal of clothes, right?
It depends on the venue! We do start dressed, you know. Several times we are under several costumes and layers of clothing. In the summer, we hope to have good AC backstage, or we will sweat out the makeup. Taking off clothing after sweating for a while is very lovely, though. Then you add the screams and applause of the audience for doing so, and we are golden.
How long have you been in the burlesque world, and in New York, now?
I’ve been in NYC most of my life… almost 22 years now. I have been burlesquing since 2018. I started doing it out of a dare by Viktor Devonne, the former producer of the now-defunct White Elephant Burlesque. During the lockdown, most shows went virtual, and I was recording numbers at night in the park with my best friend holding the camera.
What was it about burlesque that clicked with you, and made you want to stick with it?
Each burlesque number is like your own one-person act. Picking the song and margining the number, rehearsing and performing it is so satisfying. Being my director and worse critic is what kept me so interested.
Did you have to get over a lot of inhibitions about baring skin on stage, or was that never an issue for you?
I never had any problem getting naked in front of strangers. I was a gogo boy when I was in college.
Oh werq! How would you describe the types of numbers you like to do today?
My style of burlesque is very vaudeville. I love the beginning of the century aesthetics: bow ties, straw hats, lapel flowers. Some of my numbers have magic tricks, and some are just classic 1920s striptease burlesque.
Have you had a favorite moment or show as a performer so far?
There have been so many wonderful moments! Hard to think of a single one. I guest the one I remember the most was my very first act back in 2017 at Rockbar. I invited all my friends and I rehearsed non-stop for days. I was so nervous, and when they started to announce me I almost puked. But I soldiered on, and stepped on that stage.
Drag and burlesque are a great pairing. Most of the time we have a drag queen as the host of a burlesque show; there are also crossovers like Zenon TeaVee who does drag burlesque. Pixie’s show is different; as a drag show with a burlesque guest performer. I love doing Pixie’s show, as she and her girls keep the energy of the audience really high… so when is my turn to perform, they are so loaded and excited to see a boy getting undressed on stage.
We’ll be excited to see you mix it up with some great queens this Pride Wednesday, 6/22, at Monster’s Thotyssey-powered Bacardi Party! You’ll be joined by iconic hostess Holly Dae and an amazing drag cast — Tina Twirler, WorshipHer, Nani Tsunami and Vena Cava — not to mention the hot boys of Spunk, and the great DJ Nesto! This is going to be the one and only Pride Week Hump Day kiki!
I’m sure we will have a blast! I’m quite excited!
Anything else coming up for you that the children need to know about?
On Thursday I am performing at The Atlantic BKLN in Brooklyn for “Pride of the Atlantic.” Then on July 9, I will be doing the final closing show for “HomoErectus Burlesque” at The Stonewall. I also will be performing in Philadelphia and Washington D.C in July and August. The thing about burlesque is that we usually get dates the week of… so it’s an ever-filling up calendar.
We will stay glued to your socials! And finally: what do you think might be the worst song ever to perform burlesque to?
At Burning Man (I go there a lot), there is a camp that has a game called “Terrible Songs To Striptease To” where you accept the challenge and go on stage and muscle your way through songs like “Tears in Heaven,” “Torn” “Cat’s in the Cradle,” “The American National Anthem,” etc. But! I have learned that any song can be a good song, if you know how to make it work. It’s all about attitude.
Thanks Abel… see you soon!