The Pretty Things Peep Show is hard to nail down — it’s vaudeville, burlesque and sideshow oddities all rolled into one scantily clad traveling variety show.
Led by its founder and owner Go-Go Amy, 33, a New York pin-up model and burlesque dancer, the show has toured nationally seven times and returns to The Loft Monday for its second Lansing performance.
The show features everything from juggling and fire-eating to the “human blockhead,” in which a performer hammers a large nail into his nasal cavity.
The oddball spectacles have earned the Peep Show spots on rock tours like Van’s Warped Tour and Ozzfest, as well as appearances on HBO’s “Real Sex” and “Miami Ink” and Red Hot Chili Peppers and 50 Cent music videos.
“It’s a new genre the kids are calling ‘Broadville,’” Go-Go Amy said. “It’s like vaudeville, but all done by hot broads. It’s a very lady-centric show. There’s only one man in the show; all of the other performers are women. It’s like a proper old-timey vaudeville show, so with every performer who walks on stage, you’ll have no idea what will happen next.”
Go-Go Amy’s roles in the show consist of her burlesque performances, as well as acts with the “Chinese Execution Blade Box” and the “Precarious Pincushion.” She said both involve “very, very large knives and gigantic props.”
Her fellow entertainers are all veteran New York sideshow performers that bring an assortment of peculiarities to the table.
“We’ve got Miss Heather Holliday: She’s going to be sword-swallowing for us. She’s also included in some of the acts with Donny Vomit, who is our host. They do a whip-cracking act together; he also helps her with her sword-swallowing act. They do a lot of stuff as a team.”
A new addition to the show is Las Vegas performer Lil’ Miss Firefly, billed as the smallest performer in the world.
Go-Go Amy said the two met when they both worked the same sideshow at Ozzfest 2007. On this tour Firefly is doing a combination sideshow/burlesque act.
“Firefly is only 27 inches tall. She bills herself as ‘The Midget of Mischief,’” Go-Go Amy said. “She’s quite an entertaining lady. Her feature act is her dancing on a pile of broken glass while doing a little bit of a striptease. She also escapes from a straitjacket and does a ‘balloon swallow’ (in which) she swallows a balloon taller than her.”
Holliday, who cut her teeth swallowing swords in the Coney Island Circus Sideshow for seven years alongside Donny Vomit, described Pretty Things as a “girly roadshow.”
“Our acts are dangerous, daring and always a tease — even when we’re not removing any garments,” Holliday explained.
“Above all, it’s pretty. Our main gimmick is not just doing everything well, but doing it pretty. Most performers approach some of these acts with ‘grossing out’ in mind, and that’s just not us.”
Holliday also said the show is often mistaken for a run-of-the-mill dance show, which isn’t the case with Pretty Things’ diverse line-up.
“I think many people come to our show expecting only burlesque, and though we do have dancing girls performing the classic tease, it’s really not our deal,” Holliday said.
“Our show is designed for people with short attention spans, so we keep it action packed with thrills, chills and frills.”
Opening the show is The Klaw Mark Kittens, a Lansing-based, ‘50s-style burlesque/vaudeville show that features girls wrestling on stage in vintage, Betty Page-style lingerie.
The Pretty Things Peepshow
with The Klaw Mark Kittens
Doors open at 7 p.m. Monday July 11
The Loft, 414 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing
$10, 18 and over