Pumps Bar, the casual “anti-gentleman’s club,” as described by the owner, hosted an early Valentine’s Day performance presented by their lineup of dazzling talent, the Pumps Pin-Ups. Invoking the mystique of Prohibition-era New York, Pumps transformed into a speakeasy with local art gracing the walls and stage. Picture Boardwalk Empire drenched in neon and you’re on the right shadowy path.
Like the prior Halloween show (reviewed HERE), head Pin-Ups/planners Scarlett LaRosa and Spank Sinatra developed a narrative to tie the performances together. This time around, the story revolves around the two MCs, Joey Nova and Rocket Ships, and their roles in bringing various hooligans, criminals, and thrill killers to justice. Joey Nova, a smooth-talking, eagle-eyed investigator described as “the straightest dick in town,” accepts assistance from stool-pigeon Rocket, who demands immunity and protection from the cast of troublemakers she’s helping to indict. It’s an entertaining set-up, but the dialogue exchanges occasionally outstay their welcome as the audience awaits the next performer. Still, there are some gems, with Nova’s sharp wit meshing well with Rocket’s go-for-broke Loony Toons kineticism. The evening’s performers were the following:
Alyssa Calypso - With a dapper pin-striped suit, fedora, and pink carnation, Alyssa looked like an infinitely sexier female version of myself. She lights up the joint with an easy smile and mischievous eyes, dancing with energy that makes the crowd go insane, like she spiked the fruit punch. Seriously talented, and has shined in all of her moments in the spotlight at the last two shows.
Sophie Von Z - She performs with attitude and power, strutting across a stage littered with treacherous cables and wires with heart-stomping stiletto pumps. With a glittery dagger in her stockings, we know she’s dangerous, and she has the raven-haired femme fatale look to back it up.
Sinister Shabzzz - Nothing says gangster like… Michael Jackson? Since she danced to “Smooth Criminal” I’ll play along. She dances in a flash of bright tattoos and pin-striped clothing, ending with heart pasties and swinging tassels. She has that look that suggests she’d never crack in an interrogation room; just cool as can be.
Scarlett LaRosa - The founder of the Pumps Pin-Ups, Scarlett sang “Sooner or Later” and fucking nailed it. There was less singing than usual in the show, so she was a very welcome change of pace. Her voice just cuts through the song and sizzles with sex appeal. She changed a lyric to “I always get my man, or woman.” As an ex of mine used to say, “Hey, friction is friction.”
Sonny de la Vega - Dancing with strength and grace, she’s the type of dancer that makes me wish during this Olympic season that there was a nationally broadcasted burlesque competition instead of hours and hours of footage watching Bob Costas talk about curling with pink eye. She’s a treat and a treasure.
Heidi Glum - With two performances during the evening, Glum displayed charming dichotomy with delicate/manic performance styles. One half Cruella de Ville, one half Valley of the Dolls, Glum showed why that “Washington D.C.’s Best Drag Queen” title was earned.
Ariel Wolf - At some point we were all taught not to play with fire, and luckily for us, Ariel Wolf ignored that lesson. She captured the audience’s full attention with fire tricks, passing flames between her hands and tongue, and ended by breathing plumes of fire into the air. Forget the Khaleesi in Game of Thrones, she’s the real mother of dragons.
Bianca Dagga - Total professional. Brilliant smile, sophisticated and classy performance with large feathered fans that truly transported me to a time of Al Capone and glittery showgirls. Her bra rained flower petals onto the stage, a subtle and ingenious touch that the entire audience greeted with a howl of appreciation.
Carlotta Boombatta, Lady von Winehouse, and Sandra - If you’ve ever watched the original Bonnie and Clyde and thought it should be way sexier (like, if Clyde didn’t have erectile dysfunction), this was the opening number for you. Good god, was this criminally hot. Sandra and Carlotta abduct a showgirl, share her, and end with a series of acrobatic and synchronized moves that leave them entwined on poles and in chairs. This made me believe in magic again.
Rocket Ships - Joey Nova said it best: “Who knew that under all that crazy there was a crazy hot bod?” Rocket captures the confident silliness of Madeline Kahn and combines it with sly sex appeal. A stand-up comedian (comedienne?), she aims for laughs and usually hits her target with panache.
Kat - If you have ever been to Pumps on a busy night, Kat is usually there with the lovely Vanessa, combining as the city’s best bartending tandem. Tonight, Kat performed in a cupid costume, aiming her terrifying golden bow and arrow at the audience, and absolutely slaughtered all expectations. The bar was a blizzard of dollars as the audience showered the stage with dead Presidents and applause. Even though she’s a determined dancer with a cool disposition while performing, her smile and personality make you feel like you’ve known her for years after seeing a four minute routine.
Reina Williams - This talented singer/guitarist played an original song that I heard the audience humming the rest of the night. An hour later some gals next to me were singing it back and forth, so that’s the best compliment a musician could receive. She also had a Sevendust sticker on her guitar, which blasted me back to junior high when I saw them play with Rob Zombie. I was 16 or so, wore fishnets, and wanted to be a vampire. Ah, the good old days.
Unfortunately, it started snowing two hours prior, which definitely impacted attendance, but the audience was a lively bunch. I always look forward to seeing local artists use the space as a seedy gallery as well: Art from the immensely talented Aubrey Roemer glowed in the lap dance room, while work from The Art of Rain, Rachel Villanova, and Eli Sleepless also adorned the walls. Also, some of my favorite pieces were the raw, honest portraits of Lovefromistanbul by Gamze Redblood. They were stark and beautiful.
It was another successful event, and hopefully there will be some more singing the next time around (great respect to Joey Nova, Scarlett la Rosa, and Reina Williams for their performances). Still, Pumps transformed a snowy, miserable Sunday night into a warm three hours filled with dangerous ladies, criminal mischief, frantic wordplay, and bulletproof lingerie. Kat said it best as she exchanged high fives with the crowd after her performance: “God, I love this country.”
Follow the Pumps Pin-Ups here, and stay tuned for details on their next show: https://www.facebook.com/PumpsPinUps