Circus acrobatics, aerialist and burlesque shows have become common, but Blunderland founder and host Eric Schmalenberger aims to surprise.
Rob Roth performs as CRAIG, who dresses as the Wolfman and sings, usually 1980s rock tunes such as Morrissey songs. Burlesque performances have featured strange reveals, such as a plastic surgery-themed act by dancers Deity and Stormy Leather, who perform together as the Spill Sisters.
“I am gentle with audiences,” Schmalenberger says. “Some of it is freaky and weird, but there’s a balance to it. There are only so many ways (for a burlesque dancer) to take off a glove. Some of (the show) is beautiful and sublime, and some of it is acts with a syringe and a mask, or a dancer making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with her body.”
New York burlesque star Julie Atlas Muz does the peanut butter act. She won’t be performing at One Eyed Jacks.
The variety show’s lineup changes both at its home in Brooklyn, New York, and for this, its fifth iteration in New Orleans Saturday, April 13 at One Eyed Jacks.
Trixie Minx, founder of Fleur de Tease, co-hosts Blunderland in New Orleans. The show will feature local aerialist and circus arts trainer Liza Rose. She’ll do a revised version of her umbrella act, an aerial performance on a trapeze she designed, which she used to compete at the 2016 U.S. Aerial Championships in New York. Visiting performers include boylesque dancer Jett Adore, who will do his Zorro act, and burlesque dancer Lady Lucerne, who has a metamorphosis-themed act featuring a mermaid. Deity and Stormy Leather will perform solo acts and in a Spill Sisters duet.
Schmalenberger performs regularly with the San Francisco-founded burlesque clown troupe Fou Fou Ha!, and sometimes his clowning is part of Blunderland.
Blunderland’s home is at the Brooklyn venue House of Yes, an inclusive, LGBTQ-friendly performance space that hosts alternative theater, circus acts and burlesque shows for all genders. After many weekly shows and on weekends, it transitions into a nightclub after performances, and there often are aerialists above and contortionists or go-go dancers on the bar or in the crowd. Many guests wear costumes.
The House of Yes was born in what its founders, circus arts performers Anya Sapozhnikova and Kae Burke, describe as a punk squat in Williamsburg, Brooklyn that hosted circus and other performances. It later moved to a warehouse space in Williamsburg, and then to its current legally permitted space in Bushwick.
Schmalenberger has used Blunderland to help performers network. New Orleans drag performer Vinsantos has appeared in New York editions, as have local burlesque and comedy couple Kitten N’ Lou (who perform Sunday at One Eyed Jacks). Schmalenberger is working on staging Blunderland internationally. He’s scheduled to go to London after the New Orleans show, and he plans to take it to Berlin, Germany, Reykjavik, Iceland and the Adelaide, Australia and Ediburgh, Scotland fringe festivals. In New York, he’s even venturing into Manhattan. He’s working with Studio 54 co-founder Ian Schrager on a project at the Paradise Club, a hotel venue in Times Square, Schmalenberger says.