Go–Go Amy is disinclined to reveal her last name. Of course, with a bit of light–fingered Googling and/or journalistic sleuthing, the elusive surname could be easily discovered. But let’s let it go, because mystery is a big part of Go–Go Amy’s allure.
She’s a burlesque dancer with the Pretty Things peepshow; in fact, she’s the brains behind the whole operation. To quote the Traveling Wilburys, she’s got a body for business and a head for sin.
A burlesque dancer is not the same thing as a stripper. Although Amy’s ... assets are front and center during a Pretty Things performance, they’re covered by tassels and barely–there bits of fabric, which do not come off despite the performer’s piecemeal removal of everything else.
Then there are the hand–fans. And the long satin gloves. And, sometimes, the balloons, popped seductively one–by–one with a strategically–held straight pin.
Burlesque dancing is all tease and titillation. And, particularly in the context of the Pretty Things, it’s part of a much larger performance.
Amy, who’d danced in New York nightclubs and at national burlesque festivals, was part of the groundbreaking Brothers Grimm Sideshow, a favorite on numerous Ozzfest tours. A Wisconsin–based touring revue that combined classic burlesque with fire–eating, sword–swallowing and “freak acts” like the Mexican Werewolf Boy, the Tattooed Enigma and guys who drove nails into their foreheads, Grimm was a runaway hit.
“It kind of opened my eyes to the sideshow aspect of it,” Amy says. “I had seen variety performers before, but I’d never really experienced being in a real sideshow. I really felt like the audiences were so much more exciting with Brothers Grimm, because in a burlesque show it’s kind of like the same act, over and over again. Another lady. Another dress hits the floor. By the third girl, you know what’s coming. Not that it’s not fun and nice, but you know, the audience gets kinda excited when a new person comes out.
“Whereas, with the Brothers Grimm, when each new performer came out, you didn’t know: Are they gonna take their clothes off? Are they gonna set something on fire? Is there gonna be a sword involved? Are they gonna die?”
Nobody dies on the Pretty Things stage, although ringleader Donny Vomit does some awesomely dangerous stuff with knives and hammers. On the tour bringing the ensemble to the Jinx Thursday, Feb. 7, the “cast” will also include the 27–inch tall Lil Miss Firefly (“The Midget of Mischief”) and Michigan’s hula–hooping burlesque queen Vivacious Miss Audacious.
Amy’s background and college degree are in theater design — she started dancing to pay the bills — and since the debut of Pretty Things, she’s designed and made all of her costumes. “That’s one of the super–fun parts of this show,” she gushes, “getting to make anything I want to wear onstage.” She also teaches classes in pin–up modeling and photography.
Unlike Grimm and the other “potentially fatal” sideshows on the road, Pretty Things is, in Amy’s words, “lighthearted” and “girly.”
She explains: “The thing that I wasn’t so into with the sideshow was that it was very in–your–face, very out and dangerous. And I think, for me personally, over the top.
“So when I put this show together, I wanted the sparkly, pretty, beautiful costumes of a burlesque show, but with the excitement and the danger of a sideshow.”
God forbid there should be blood. And Amy and company don’t care for the acts that are so gross, you have to turn away.
“I feel like if you spent money on a ticket, you should want to look at the stage every second that somebody’s on there,” she says. “I’m taking your money, and I should earn it. You should want to look at me the whole time. Even if I have a sword and you’re afraid I might hurt myself, you should still want to see it.”
Naturally, with so much flesh on parade, audiences — fueled by alcohol — sometimes expect more va–va with their voom.
“We don’t really get those crowds often, to be completely honest,” says Amy. “Dudes like that don’t even know what a burlesque show means. They see they word ‘peepshow’ and they think it’s something else. Every once in a while, there’ll be one guy in the crowd who gets annoying, but the rest of the crowd will shut him up before I ever will. They’re trying to enjoy a show.
“And if there is a heckler or whatever, I’m thinking ‘Your ticket money has already gone into my gas tank.’ It’s easy for me to turn it off.”
Go–Go Amy, Donny Vomit and an earlier edition of the Pretty Things Peepshow appeared at the Wormhole in 2009. Because of the club’s low ceiling, she had to leave one of her mile–high feathered headdresses in the backstage dressing room.
The Jinx has a bit more headroom, anyway.
“We were just joking, thank God we have a midget on this tour,” Amy laughs. “We don’t have to worry about low ceilings.”
Pretty Things Peepshow
Where: The Jinx, 127 W. Congress St.
When: At 11 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7