Thursday, October 1, 2015

Us, Naked: Trixie & Monkey! (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

“Us, Naked” Goes Behind the Scenes With Trixie & Monkey
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

“The whole thing started because I wanted to see the movie,” says Jeremy Hackworth, a Florida Keys charter boat captain. He’s referring to a new documentary about an award-winning burlesque duo
known as Trixie Little and Evil Hate Monkey. He’s been a long-time fan of these “talented crackpots.” So he had his company Zia Charters sponsor a showing at the Tropic Cinema.

Hackworth himself hasn’t seen the film yet. He invites you to join him.

A one-night-only special event, “Us, Naked: Trixie & Monkey!” will be screened tonight at the Tropic. This will be the film’s Florida premiere.

Even better, Trixie and her partner Monkey will be on hand to greet you. And joining them is the film’s director, Kristen D’Andrea Hollander.

Starting off with a 7 o’clock reception, the fun really gets underway at 8 when Trixie and Monkey give a live performance on stage, followed by the film. Afterwards, a Q&A session will take place with the audience.

You’ll recognize Trixie and Monkey. She’s the pretty dancer/acrobat often seen wearing little more than pasties and G-string; he’s the goofy guy with a curving mustache and a headpiece sporting chimpanzee-like ears.

Their act is memorable. Accompanied by pulse-pounding music like “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” they go through their funny stage act -- prancing and tumbling, her balancing on his shoulders or upturned feet, him hoisting her over his head as she shucks her bra, sometimes doing their famous Volcano Dance, other times doing twists and turns on a trapeze.

They take their art very serious. Both are circus-trained. They’ve been “flipping and stripping” for audiences since 2002. Although based in New York City, they perform all over the world -- Berlin, London, Australia. They are regular visitors to Key West.

Director Kristen D’Andrea Hollander first caught their act nearly ten years ago and started filming them. Then, wanting to know more about what happens behind the scenes, she expanded her footage into the documentary you’ll see tonight. A full-time professor at MICA, Hollander teaches film, video, and community arts. She has received numerous awards for her film work, including an Independent Filmmaker Project Lab Fellowship in 2011.  Although known for her shorts, this is her first feature film.

“It’s all about fantasy,” says Hollander with a wry smile.

Trixie and Monkey have an imaginary history. Little T was orphaned by a terrible elephant tightrope accident. But thanks to an errant lightning bolt, she was transformed into the grown-up Trixie, a beautiful messenger of Love. And a mangy run-of-the-mill circus monkey named Muddles was changed into The Evil Hate Monkey. Fortunately, Trixie possesses magical spanking powers. And she’s very adept at, uh, spanking the monkey.

Having pioneered a niche in the international circus/cabaret scene, Trixie and Monkey have won such awards as the Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas Best Duo 2006, King of Boylesque 2010, Most Comedic 2010, Most Innovative 2008, and Miss Exotic World, Reigning Queen of Burlesque 2015.

Yes, “Us, Naked: Trixie & Monkey” is much more than a silly film about silly people dancing about half-naked. Kristen D’Andrea Hollander points out that the documentary explores the sacrifices made for one’s passion, the meaning of success, and the strength that comes from partnership.

Or as Trixie likes to say, “Be careful not to make your dream too small, because then you’re really screwed if you actually get it and it wasn’t enough.”

As for Jeremy Hackworth, it would have been cheaper for him to fly up to New York to see the film. But like he says, “It’s not always about being practical. Sometimes it’s about fun.”

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