“First off, I am a stripper. Let’s not get that confused. I take off my clothes on stage,” says GoGo McGregor, whose “Clue: A Burlesque Mystery” makes its season debut Friday at The Allways Lounge.
Her collaborator, Dr. Sick, who hails from upstate New York, agrees. “Burlesque is stripping,” he said, but, he added, flashing a subversive smile, “it doesn’t have to be.”
Arching her heavily painted eyebrow, McGregor quickly picked up the thread.
“A burlesque dancer’s performances have concepts, elaborate hand-tailored costumes, extravagant props and are typically performed in a theatrical setting.
“To us, it is our art. Some definitions of burlesque refer to ‘the art of the strip tease.’ That’s the huge difference in our acts, the anticipation of the removal of the garments and what magic lies underneath.”
That distinction, misdirection and magic will be on display Friday as the romantic-professional couple’s evening, inspired by the board game, celebrates its first anniversary.
It begins a busy period for the couple, who also will be among the headliners at the New Orleans Burlesque Festival next week.
Traveling with different companies on the same tour in 2010, Sick and McGregor met when they found themselves on the same side in a dispute with a stage manager. During the exchange, they realized their connection and, according to Sick, “GoGo ran away from her circus to join Sick’s circus.”
On Valentine’s Day 2011, this “two-person circus” took its show on the road to New Orleans, where they established a name for themselves in the city’s performance community.
Like so many other burlesque artists in town, the two have wrestled with “Gypsy’s” mandate that all acts “Gotta Have a Gimmick.” They say that distinctive performative energy separates vaudeville/burlesque from the pole dancing and grinding that populates Bourbon Street.
This has led to a working method that, according to Sick, involves reinventing the approach for each project.
“Every collaboration we’ve had has been different,” Sick said. “We each have very different styles, not only with our different set groups of talents but also in the way we conceptualize a routine or show.
“GoGo will find music that inspires an idea, then construct or collect the proper costume and props, then internalize it until she performs it in front of a live audience without rehearsal.”
Conversely, Sick’s style of creation is more performative and public.
“I approach everything like long division where you show your work,” Sick said. “I’ll test jokes I’ve written in everyday conversation or rewrite a song until it’s my weird version of perfect.
“ ‘Clue’ was a special piece.”
With a deep love for both the murder-mystery game and the movie, McGregor approached Sick to see if they could make it work as an actual game, rather than just a clever performance.
Sick conceived of three potential models, and the couple decided on the simplest approach. It has evolved into a drinking/guessing game rather than the methodical process of elimination of the board game.
Sick and McGregor have taken on the roles of host/victim and French maid/assistant respectively and filled out the cast with dancers whose outfits and props lend themselves to characters, such as Col. Mustard, and murder weapons, such as the rope.
For all the theatricality, wit and musical accompaniment, the star of the show, just as in stripping, remains the female form and its revelation.
But even then, McGregor says, “although both professions make cold hard cash, burlesque dancers aren’t necessarily in it for the money but more sharing our vision of the female form, be it silly, dirty, sexy, strong or anything in between.”
CLUE: A Burlesque Mystery
Produced by GoGo McGregor and Dr. Sick
WHEN: 10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 12
WHERE: Allways Lounge, 2240 St. Claude Ave.