Upon entering the Latvian Society searching for what was billed as “an erotic performance that’s geared to get you hot, sexy and hard”, it’s easy to feel like you may be in the wrong place. But once you stumble upon the space which Gunnar Montana has painstakingly transformed into a post-apocalyptic world, you may just forget that there is anything or anyone else on the outside.
Choreographed and directed by Jazmin Zieroff and Gunnar Montana, “Rub” is an avant garde sexual romp in a fantasy world inhabited by 4 stunningly beautiful and wonderfully depraved women who remind us not only of the power and beauty of the female body, but how the erotic world may evolve in a world without men. The universe itself is an artistic wonderland of dirty grunge found from Philly garbage. Walls are plastered with cigarette boxes, creepy barbies, wheels and textures. Battered and exposed chandeliers are hung with the shells of decapitated beauty school practice heads. The floor, which is littered with milk crates and junk, makes you pause to wonder if this is a part of the show, or just random chaos. Gunnar’s talents as a visual artist is second only to his wit and creativity as a choreographer and director.
And then there are the girls. Jazmin and Gunnar’s cast of women are nothing short of astonishing. I’m reticent to refer to “Rub” as burlesque, which conjurers images of cutesy, dolled up pin-up girls prancing about in antiquated corsets. The Rub girls aren’t afraid to get dirty as they run the gamut of real world fantasies and fetishes. In the opening scene they climb, dance, spin and flip on scaffolding in work boots and denim cut-offs in what can only be described as erotic gymnastics which climaxes in an acrobatic pole dance by athletic beauty Maureen Lynch on a diagonal pole which lays haphazardly against seemingly precarious scaffolding.
The cast of “Rub” are not your typical hip swaying, gum chewing strippers, although some do perform in local clubs. These are trained dancers, several of whom met as dance majors at the University of the Arts with backgrounds in ballet and modern dance. Even in pieces as blatantly hot and sexual as as the doctor/patient lesbian romp in which Maureen and Courtney Lapresi tumble, roll and spin atop a gurney, their training is evident. Every hand, every foot, every arch of a back is a study in classical dance, even while wrapped in cellophane with neon painted nipples.
This is not to say that the show is without humor. In one piece, Ann-Marie Gover dances a love-hate affair with a giant 6 foot penis constructed of what appears to be a kick boxing practice bag. Ms Gover is not only a beautiful dancer, her comic timing is flawless, as she seemingly struggles to climb to climb the giant, silver veined cock, only to ride the giant swaying phallic like a bucking bronco, love it, slap it and kick it around a bit. In a school scene that goes awry, a very naughty teacher played by Fatima Kargbo straddles and climbs atop an unruly class, before eventually being bound and tied up with school chairs. In the most classic of the strip numbers Courtney Lapresi does an sweet aerial dance in a neon g-string and stripper shoes in a giant heart.
But the final piece is where Gunnar’s visual art and modern dance training collide in an amazing work. Milk crates transform from dancer’s heads to seats in which a tea party with Jack Daniels gets wet and dirty as the entire casts drenches themselves and each other as they slide and slither on the ground and with each other in a steaming hot sea of oily naked bodies.
As Gunnar’s debut show, “Rub” is a shining achievement in a multi-artistic eroticism. And as a former dancer, I would personally like to thank him for giving us a combination of beautiful sexy bodies, dirty sexy art, and for understanding the importance of pretty stripper feet as opposed to ugly porn feet. “Rub” is a must see at this year’s Fringe Festival.
All Photos by Lori Foxworth and Paul Gentile at Black White and Raw Photography