A few months ago I wrote a cover story, and supplementary blog posts, for the New Haven Advocate on a couple of sassy, dressy burlesque shows at the music club Cafe Nine. (Those writings are, alas, no longer archived at the Advocate site.) Yesterday I finally made it to the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum in Times Square, where Albert Cadabra—low-brow sideburned emcee of high-end burlesque such as The Pontani Sister’s flagrant Burlesque-A-Pades tours—holds forth several times a day with a sideshow spiel during which he hammers a nail into his face.
At the Cafe Nine gig last winter, when Cadabra did the trick he asked for a volunteer from the audience to help him extract the nail from his nostril. The woman he chose did so with her teeth.
No such mouth-to-nose antics at yesterday’s late-afternoon Ripley’s performance. Just a rapt crowd as spellbound by Albert Cadabra expert exhortations and impertinent patter as by his skull-pounding skills.
The museum rocks, by the way. Secret passageways, grotesqueries, torture devices, intricate artworks (DaVinci’s Last Supper redone with spider webbing; tiny toothpick carvings) and plenty of curiosities which bridge the gap between performance/stagecraft and outright gawking.