I love to celebrate holidays, so in anticipation of Valentine’s Day 2015, I bought some striped heart socks and Hello Kitty Valentine’s Day cards with suckers to give my co-workers. My mom supplied me with some chocolate and a teddy bear. The only thing that was missing? A Valentine.
Predicting a weekend spent alone, I began to look for activities to do. Fifty Shades of Grey, based on that top-selling erotic romance novel by E.L. James, was coming out. I put that on my calendar for Valentine’s Day, but then what to do Friday?
The answer turned out to be in NoDa, at Chop Shop: The Sweet Spot: Valentine’s Edition. The Sweet Spot is a traveling show described as “a high energy, heart-pounding, fist pumping, laugh-out-loud pop erotica event.” I thought, “What better pre-game to one of the most anticipated erotic movies of the year!” Bonus: I found Groupon and Living Social deals for half the price.
Eager to have company, I told my co-workers, and they hopped on it. We purchased the tickets and spent the rest of the week looking forward to a girls’ night out.
By lunchtime on Friday, we were all so excited for our first burlesque show, we could barely focus. Another, more seasoned co-worker, offered her two cents: “Nipple tassels are never a good look.” And from that point on, all I could think about was what to expect. Christina Aguilera, Lil Kim, Mya and Pink in “Lady Marmalade”? I never saw the movie Burlesque, so I had no idea where my reference points of bustiers and feathers came from.
As I waited for worktime to be over and playtime to begin, I looked up the event again online and watched the promo video for The Sweet Spot. The show was started nine years ago in New York by Ainsley Burrows — later that evening, she would drop this salacious opening line in a poem: “Tonight I want you to wear nothing but waist beads and some rain boots.”
I had never been to the Chop Shop before, nestled over the railroad tracks behind Cabo Fish Taco on East 35th Street. I was already in love with the spacious, warehouse feel as I took in the huge murals that lined the walls. The lights were dim, and there was a red glow that definitely fell in the category of “mood lighting.”
At the bar, the featured drink menu caught me eye — most notably, the “Leg Spreader” and the “Cherry Popper.” If that didn’t effectively foreshadow the kind of show I was going to see, I don’t know what would have.
Of course, we arrived a little late, but someone informed us the show had only been going on for about 20 minutes by the time we had gotten drinks and seated. We walked in on a spoken word performance. (Spoken word is poetry that usually involves wordplay and storytelling. For more insight, check out UpStage or Dupp&Swat, which are also in NoDa.)
This poet, like the many others to follow, outlined acts of intimacy in great detail — and when I say great, I mean step-by-step, in your face, you might not want to bring your mom detail — with references that ranged from the universe to church to Sonic the Hedgehog. There were a few snaps here and there; however, we quickly learned the way to show support or positive feedback was to toss a slew of condoms at the artist and stage in support. Yes! I loved it!
The host, Sabrina, was full of energy and jokes that kept the crowd entertained between acts, and she was also a poet herself. But the most anticipated act of the show for us of course was the burlesque performer, Poison Ivory — a tall, voluptuous woman whose introduction ended with, “The more noise you make the quicker she takes it off!”
Burlesque dates back to the 17th century and combines elements of humor, erotic dance and strip tease. Poison Ivory performed to Florence and the Machine’s “Girl with One Eye” and Etta James’ “Let’s Burn Down the Cornfield.” Decked out in rhinestones, lace and feathers, she captivated the crowd with her stage presence. And yes, there were nipple tassels. I thought back to my co-worker's comment earlier that day. Maybe they weren’t the most attractive accessory, but Poison Ivory made them work!
Obviously, this show is 21 and up. The Sweet Spot and other burlesque shows are not for the faint of heart, and are especially not for the prude. A wonderful combination of comedy, burlesque, musical performance and spoken word, it is truly a one-of-a-kind must-see experience.
And most importantly, “What happens at the Sweet Spot, stays at the Sweet Spot.”