From porn to gogo dancing to burlesque and theater, Chris Harder has been there and done ALL that. Now enjoying a popular residence at The Slipper Room, he’s about to launch an exciting, additional new showcase there. [Cover photo: Rope Daddy]
Thotyssey: Hello Chris How was your Pride Week?
Chris Harder: Busy! (In that I was trying to avoid Monkeypox.) But otherwise, very chill. A little burlesque, a lot of air conditioning.
The perfect formula! It was fun kiki’ing with you in the judge’s quarters of what turned out to be the final Q edition of the Lady Liberty drag competition several weeks ago. Isn’t it a nice feeling to see that there’s so much new talent out there in NYC nightlife?
Absolutely. One of my favorite moments from that evening was watching [contestant] Paloma’s friends shower her with glitter from the balcony, and the joy that brought them. I think after a while of being in nightlife, we forget how magical those first gigs felt. (Thank gawd for drink tickets!)
We don’t see so much burlesque in the queer bars nearly as much as we see drag, but it thrives in diverse spaces across the city… and you’re a big part of that scene. For uninitiated kids out there, why should folks be paying more attention to burlesque, and why is burlesque so fun to do and watch?
To me, there’s as much glam, grit and queer fuckery in burlesque as there is in drag—which is why I love seeing and being a part of shows that feature both kinds of performers. Burlesque is thought of as “the art of the tease” but it’s also owning your body and personal aesthetic with the same kind of unapologetic and irreverent attitude that we see in drag shows. Also… nudity! I think especially right now, there is something so radical and re-energizing about watching performers reveling in their bodies onstage, and encouraging their audiences to do the same.
The Slipper Room, where you have a popular residence — care of the monthly “Late Night Cravings” revue which returns this Thursday — is such an eloquent and fun place for burlesque shows in particular. Red Curtain Realness!
What I love about the Slipper is, it really is a performer’s playground to try out anything. And I mean anything. It’s also one of the few venues that walks the line between intimate theatre setting and neighborhood watering hole. It’s the most upscale-dive bar-theatre night-freak show-strip tease-drag down venue I’ve ever flashed my g-string at.
Besides Cravings, you’re about to premiere a second, all new show there on Wednesday, July 13: “MasterTEASE Theatre!” You’ll be joined by some greats: FiFi DuBois, GoGo Tittyscones, Pixel the Drag Jester, Veronica Piper, Sage Sovereign and the legendary Tigger. Tell us more!
MasterTEASE Theatre is of course a pun on Masterpiece Theatre, but it’s really an homage to some of my favorite drag and burlesque performers as well as the kind of theatre that I love to see: funny, irreverent, sex-positive, and weird. During the pandemic I got my MFA in Playwriting, and since then I’ve been experimenting with how to create work that bridges the glittery, messy energy of nightlife with the “narrative” of a theatre show. Think “Shakespeare meets Stripclub.”
Love that, and can’t wait to see it! Okay, lastly: what’s something you look forward to seeing or experiencing this summer?
I’m really excited to see Bambi the Mermaid’s show “A Night on Bangkok” at Coney Island on July 30th. If you want to see NYC style burlesque, that is definitely the show. And besides that, I’m looking forward to performing on Fire Island for the “Fire Island Follies,” and getting some (naked) beach time. I can’t have tan lines interrupting my stage thongs!
We are on board with this! Thank you, Chris!
Previously: On Point with Chris Harder (11.19.2017)