Racy Race Week with Angie Pontani & Co.
We’ve asked Angie Pontani to tell the life of a burlesque performer on tour. Here’s her travel diary with four exceptional fellow travelers: Kitten De Ville, Helen Pontani, Medianoche and Murray Hill.
(Go to Italian version)
Being an international jet setter is not without its challenges, you become well acquainted with the time zone tango. There is no day or night, only your schedule! Duty free zones offer a wonderful array of creams and potions to re-hydrate what I like to refer to as airplane face. You get used to the shock of people seeing your true height when you take your shoes off at security, right before you have to explain your bedazzled thongs to customs.
But it’s all well and worth it at the end of a good journey when I return home with just as many wonderful memories as purchases made by my shop-a-holic self.
This July I found myself crossing borders with my show Burlesque-A-Pades, featuring some of my closest friends. We journeyed to Edmonton Canada to perform at Indy Race Week. Similar to the Indy 500, race week is a huge event where thousands of motor cross enthusiasts converge for not only car racing but dozens of concerts, street fairs, parties and this year for the first time ever, burlesque. In addition to playing 4 nights at the Roxy Theater with Burlesque-A-Pades, we were also teaming up with my favorite masked men, Los Straitjackets for two outdoor daytime events. Few things can get me in make up and a fringe bikini in the outside and in the morning, Los Straitjackets is one of them.
Our cast was small but mighty, my favorite funny man Murray Hill was the host of the show, traveling with Murray is funnier than watching him perform, he cracks jokes like Zorro cracks a whip and has an obsession with physical fitness that drives him to force me to take power walks with him in the afternoon no matter where we are. This trip found us staying in the city center, because of the extreme winter weather in Edmonton, the downtown area is enclosed and connected by a series of malls. Every afternoon, Murray and I would power walk through the food court getting physical fitness and muffins at the same time. Kitten De Ville joined us from LA, bringing her classic Hollywood glamour and height to the cast; it’s always good to have someone in the show who can reach the overhead compartment on the plane. Of course, my tapping tornado sister Helen was on the bill and for the first time Medianoche, a performer originally from Spain who I recently met in NYC. We arrived in Edmonton late on Tuesday night and were whisked straight to the hotel. Race flags lined the lobby and pit teams roved around in their crew jackets, exhausted from a day of airporting and sad to have missed last call everywhere, we left each other for our individual California King sized beds and caught much needed shut eye. All of our rooms were on the same floor except for Murray;s, we believe he called the hotel to arrange this as there is only so much girl talk, giggling and hairspray that he can take!
In the morning we headed to the Roxy Theater for a day of tech, I love tech, this is the time to really nail the lights and the sound! Since I’m the defacto boss, I get to sit with the tech person, in this instance Scott, I always feel very Busby Berkely sitting in a theater seat and giving lighting direction for all the performers! The team at the Roxy was fabulous, our two stage managers Kerrie and tktktkt were amazing, going as far as painting all the chairs we wanted to use in our chair dance the same shade of black! That is dedication to the cause! Our pick-up artist Amy DeVine was in fact devine, gracing us with presents every night, flowers, swarovski crystals to match each of our costumes, candy bars, Prosecco, warm hospitality and skill. She didn’t miss a piece to any of my costumes and that is a lot of layers!
Sadly one of our day shows with Los Straitjackets was cancelled due to rain, all dressed up with no place to go Helen, Medianoche and I decided to stroll the mall and take a lunch break in our matching costumes. We were quite the scene at the city center Starbucks. We did get one good show in with the fellas and it was a fantastic affair. We were greeted by a gal who claimed to be our number one fan! Pekat, she was 5 and absolutely adorable. Her parents said all she does is watch our Twisting Gorilla video, inspired by it, she wore a matching polka dot dress and busted out a series of Pontani Sister dance moves in the front row alongside Murray and Kitten.
Our days in Edmonton were mostly spent partaking in one of my favorite past-times, shopping. It is dangerous to put a person with my purchasing weakness in a hotel connected to a giant mall. My greatest discovery while there was a small vintage store called “Swish” not only did I score a fabulous Italian 60s navy blue hot pant and top set, but I also nabbed a Montreal city scape circle skirt. I loved perusing the porcelain poodles, vintage furniture sets and racks and racks of treasures while Murray tore through a suitcase of vintage wide ties and Helen scored a 70s Maxi dress delight in a roaring orange.
Our Burlesque-A-Pades shows were fantastic, the crowds were enthusiastic, responsive and either burlesque aficionados that had driven 5 hours to see us or newbies who had never seen a show before! The amazing audience revved my engines enough that I got so into my bongo routine one night that my well crafted pompadour came out and Murray commented that I looked like Elvis, with boobs!
Every night after our show at the Roxy we created a ritual of going to my room to order late night room service in our pajamas and listening to jazz from the 30s and 40s, pillow fighting, comparing measurements and talking about our love lives! After the third night housekeeping didn’t even bother taking away the extra wine and champagne glasses we called up, opting to just replace them with fresh ones and save room service a trip.
It was another amazing week spent with good friends and great co-workers in a new city in another country! I am a lucky girl and look forward to the next adventure where ever my tail feathers may take me, as Murray Hill says, “SHOWBIZ”!
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Talking with my teammates!
A brief interview with Helen Pontani on rocking in Edmonton!
ANGIE: What was your favorite moment in Edmonton?
HELEN: Two things, the little girl Pekat in her polka dot dress at our set with Los Straitjackets. She was a 5 year old girl who came to the show because she is a fan of the Pontani Sisters. We were all wearing matching polka dots, it’s like she knew! Let’s not leave out our late night room service parties. We ordered room service and laughed for hours every night!
ANGIE: If the cast of Burlesque-A-Pades was a race team, who would be the driver and why?
HELEN: I would be.. and Angie would navigate. Others may disagree, but I have the need for speed! Angie, how fast do I back a car in a parallel parking spot?! Come on! Kitten De Ville comes in a real close second. She is a crazy fast driver, and she owns a huge pink Cadillac.
ANGIE: Your favorite purchase?
HELEN: My orange Versace-esque dress from the vintage store Swish. And the hummus plate from the hippie grocery store in the city center mall.
ANGIE: If you had to get lost in the Edmonton mall with any member of the cast, who would it be and why?
HELEN: This is difficult, I would say Murray Hill because I was lost in Venice, Italy once with him for hours looking for a museum that wasn’t even open yet, but it was a fun adventure. Oh! and Murray stopped me from walking up an escalator the wrong way in the Edmonton city center mall. He kind of saved my life. So yes, good shopping pal. Angie is also good to get lost with in a mall, we get lost in malls all the time. We never find our way out, but we always get a lot of good shopping done. She is the one who found my Versace-esque dress for me. I also think Medianoche would be fun to get lost in a Mall with. Great sense of style!
ANGIE: The best culinary surprise in Edmonton?
HELEN: Curry at The Rose and Crown Bar in our hotel.. No seriously! The best curry ever and I live in New York.
(Go to Italian version)