Dozens of photos in the gallery above!
Check out my other Broadway Bares-related posts here. Please let me know of any names I got wrong or am missing. Please feel free to pluck photos for posting on Facebook, but tag me and the people in them. One shot too naughty for this blog appear at my adult tumblr (Work Unfriendly). Enjoy, and please donate to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
A reader contacted me on Grindr on Sunday morning to say:
I skipped Broadway Bares last year after getting reamed for taking photos at a Solo Strips, but returned Sunday for Broadway Bares 25: Top Bottoms of Burlesque, the silver-anniversary installment of Jerry Mitchell's unfortunately-still-necessary AIDS charity show that rounds up as many hot and talented chorus boys and girls from Broadway and Broadway-adjacent (and a few who just have roommates on Broadway) to put on a one-night only, two-times only, razzle-dazzle-'em-at-any-cost show.
I decided to go back because I missed the good time and knew the dancers always seem to like having photos to share, people affiliated with the show “like” them on Instagram, etc. Where we stood, everyone around us had their phones out. I think the rule about photos is a misguided fear that it will bite into the show's revenues. In reality, since it's a show that happens once a year, seeing photos from it just encourages people to come the following year, and/or to seek out the merch. I have had a lot of readers say they now travel in for the show thanks to the photos I've posted. So hopefully it helps.
You would think this year's title would mean it was going to be 100% up my alley (I am the original ASSMAN), but I found it to have no more or less tail than past editions, save for its hilariously sexy opening—the curtain lifted to just above waist-level to reveal a bevy of dimpled booties peeking out at the crowd. It was not unlike waving a turkey at a bunch of starving bums on Thanksgiving and saucily asking, “White meat or dark?”
Directed by Jerry Mitchell and Nick Kenkel, who choreographed it with Laya Barak, Jim Cooney, Armando Farfan Jr., Peter Gregus, Ryan Lyons, Brice Mousset, Rachelle Rak, Michael Lee Scott, Kellen Stancil and Sidney Erik Wright, the show loosely followed the travails of a wannabe played by Nick Adams, he of the Mario Lopez-threatening biceps.
Adams starts out too shy to be a stripper, but luckily falls in with the wrong crowd and everything works (and comes) out in the end.
Along the way, the show included 11 tight numbers (it felt super fast this go-round, and I hated the Hammerstein venue as compared to the more spacious and now vanished Roseland), often takes on classic show tunes, always ending with a little more nudity than you might encounter in a locker room.
“Take It from the Top” was a sterling opener starring Harvey Fierstein and Callan Bergmann, a one-time Mr. Broadway, the latter of which as a great opener. Bergmann's were choice cheeks to inaugurate a buns-hun show, and he was one of the performers who really shone this year.
“Un-Dress Rehearsal” was snappy as hell, had the best underwear and starred two dancers who sold the number so hard you couldn't help envisioning them dancing horizontally.
As far as sheer entertainment value, the show couldn't and didn't go wrong with Bianca Del Rio, who showed that Joan Rivers run deep in her crusty role as a major theater diva, whose silhouetted strip was a hoot and a half in “Shadow Play” Seeing her break up later when hysterical Lesli Margherita sold her '30s quaveriness extra-hard was the night's biggest howl. “Does this bitch have Parkinson's?” she quipped.
The absolute highlight for me was “Casting Couch.”
With his Gene Kelly build and clingy suit, he throbbed with alpha-male libido, perfectly complimented by a totally game Laverne Cox. Cox, the show's surprise guest star, bared a lot of skin in her corset and pasties and aggressively matched Ross's animal lust with her own. When he ground his face into her crotch, it felt like a breakthrough in gay/trans relations and also like a sketch for a full musical I'd love to see on the Great Black-and-White Way.
For “The Load-In,” a girl near me cooed, “Ooh, it's like an orgy.” Yes, dear, it's a lot like an orgy. Except nobody shoots until the after-party. It offered a sensual human pyramid of dance and desire.
The sexiest number might've been “Sits-Probe,” a dark dance of jockstraps, pasties and the bodies who love them. One of the best-danced numbers and a number that felt like something new. (Hard to cook up new stuff 25 years and 250 numbers in!)
The most jaw-dropping number was “Prod-uction Number,” featuring beefy aerialist Alexander Stabler and a peacock-sure Alfie Parker Jr.
The aerial numbers are expected at this point, but rather than being pretty and distant and lulling, this one was death-defying ... the dude hung on a rope from the heels of his feet at one point. Chills. He was nice during Rotation, too, giving out that straight grin that says it's okay to put some money in there but don't get any ideas.
I loved “He's in the Money,” a tap-dancing extravaganza starring ageless Patrick Boyd. He's not hot for being over 40, he's just fucking hot. He owned the stage!
For sheer fun, try “A Lesson in Undressin'” on for size. In this one, Adams got the Gypsy treatment from Rachelle Rak, Jennifer Cody and Nikka Graff Lanzarone. The number featured (re)appearances by past stars like Joshua Buscher-West and Daniel Robinson. Would've been fun to see more nostalgic moments like this, but I guess Matthew Morrison couldn't be talked into getting back into his Humpty Dumpty suit even if he were told it would eradicate HIV on the spot.
Just to hammer everything home, “Petey's Turn” found Adams taking men's clothes off even more convincingly than he put women's clothes on in his star-making turn in Priscilla a few years back.
The big finale was “Bottoms Up!” It was like an inveterate rimmer's dream brunch menu set to music.
Overall, there were a lot of major stars and/or personal faves who were not there (at least not on the stage; the audience was looking sexxxy partly because it was chock-full of former Bares bods) this time, like Matt Skrincosky, Andrew Glaszek, Adam Fleming, Guto Bittencourt, Austin Heath, Michael Cusumano, Sebastian La Cause and more. And it surprised me that more A-listers didn't show up to celebrate and participate in this worthy cause and rollicking good time (how could there be no Darren Criss or Taye Diggs cameos?). But work with what ya got, especially when what ya got is a lot.
Judith Light and Andy Cohen (who basically propositioned the aerialist, and why not?) helped Mitchell announce the top money-raisers (no Reed Kelly in sight this year) and to thank everyone who participated.
Rotation was really rough. The stage area is more limited at the Hammerstein, and there are far too many attendees who simply stand two feet out and ogle the dancers or take pictures, both without offering any money. It's cheap enough to be stingy, it's worse to physically block others from donating.
I did get a kiss from Patrick Boyd during Rotation, and was able to enrich the undergarments of Mark MacKillop, Jon M J Cooper and most of the show's stand-out studs.
Rotation raised $24,912, adding to the event's record-breaking haul of $1,598,501.
Feel free to visit me on Facebook and help tag some of the performers there. Hopefully, they will like the photos as much as Joshua Michael Brickman, one of my all-time favorites, who received his images from me and promptly told me I'd made his night. That's a pretty big compliment when your night includes naked dancing.
Here's the official video highlights (I didn't film a second of the show this year):
The stars of the show:
Cesar Abreu, Andrés Acosta, Nick Adams, Lawrence Alexander, Matt Anctil, Christopher J. Anderson, Ashley Arcement, Nick Atkinson, Dave August, Eunice Bae, Heather Lea Bair, LaMar Baylor, Sydni Beaudoin, Kristine Bendul, Kimber Benedict, Callan Bergmann, Thomas Bevan, Timothy W. Bish, Stephanie Bissonnette, Michael Blatt, Patrick Boyd, Steve Bratton, Amy Brewer, Joshua Michael Brickman, Lawrence M. Bullock, Danielle Burdick, Sarah Eika Burke, Nick Rashad Burroughs, Karen Burthwright, Joshua Buscher-West, Holly Ann Butler, Ashley Campana, Ian Campayno, Allyson Carr, Jennifer Carr, Paul Caselton, Adam Chandler, Cara Chapman, Andrew Cheng, Adrianne Chu, Hailey Cianfarini, Jennifer Cody, Shaun Colledge, Jon Cooper, Whitney Cooper, Adrienne Couvillion, Laverne Cox, Nikki Croker, Chris Crowthers, Stephanie Dainow, Barrett Davis, Chloe Davis, Anthony DeCarliss, Sandor DeGrazia, Zachary Denison, Michelle DiTerlizzi, Jason Dougherty, Elizabeth Dugas, Hope Easterbrook, Clinton Edward, Derek Ege, Daniel Lynn Evans, Taurean Everett, Kristin Ewing, Tenealle Farragher, Tom Feeney, Harvey Fierstein, Armando Farfan Jr., Judah Frank, David Gamboa, Omar Garibay, Lauren Gemelll, Greer Gisy, Taylor Gordon, Alyssa Gray, David Gray, Josh Daniel Green, Matt Gregorio, Katy Grenfell, Willow Grey, Matthew Griffin, Thomasina E. Gross, Jenny Gruby-Watkins, Tony Guerrero, Scott Guthrie, Michael Haayen, Aaron Hamilton, Eric Harbin, Sam Hay, Justin Henry, Jenny Holahan, Benjamin Horen, Beau Hutchings, Alex Isenberg, Jennifer James, Jakob Karr, Shari Katz, Jami Keck, Nathan Keen, Caroline Kehoe, Laura Keller, Danielle Kelsey, Kimo Kepano, Grasan Kingsberry, Ashley Klinger, Caitlin Krause, Rebecca Kritzer, Christopher Michael Lacey, Leah Landau, Nikka Graff Lanzarone, Emily Larger, Edward Andrew Lawrence, Marina Lazzaretto, Ken Lear, Adam Lendermon, Aaron Libby, Kourtni Lind, Colby Q. Lindeman, Jaimie Linn, Kevin Loomis, Ashley Loren, Ryan Lyons, Mark MacKillop, Rebecca Magazine, Nalina Mann, Christian Mansfield, Sarah Kay Marchetti, Lesli Margherita, Talia Marino, Megan Marod, Skye Mattox, Jaysin McCollum, Greg McGoon, Johnny Milani, Azula Momoki, Evan Montgomery, Tatiana Montiero, Megan Morgan, Michael Munoz, Katrina Newman, Brandon Nobles, Rommel Pierre O'Choa, Fred Odgaard, Courtney Ortiz, Yuki Ozeki, Alfie Parker Jr., Angela Nicole Patmon, Ashley Perez, Emma Pfaeffle, Alexandra Piechota, Robert Piper, Justin Prescott, Michael Prince, Justin D. Quackenbush, Alexander Quiroga, Rachelle Rak, Lisa Ramey, Pedro Rangel, John Raterman, Madeline Reed, Macy Reeves, Jody Reynard, Lanae Rhodes, Summer Ann Rich, Ian M. Richardson, Daniel Robinson, Geraldine Rojas, Mark Roland, Paul Romero Jr., Casey Lee Ross, Bennyroyce Royon, Julius Anthony Rubio, Shantell Rush, Ben Ryan, John Patrick Sabatos, Chad Sapp, Angela M. Sauers, Kimberly T. Schafer, Richard Scheiffer, Steve Schepis, Matthew Alan Schmidt, Nicolas Sciscione, Marlowe Scott, Michael Lee Scott, Jessica Seavor, Kris Seto, Ray Sheen, Sandy Shelton, Atsuhisa Shinomiya, Jamal Shuriah, Christopher Sieber, Sade Simmons, Shannon Lea Smith, Jeffrey C. Sousa, Whitney Sprayberry, Alexander Stabler, Kellen Stancil, Billy Steeves, Molly Winter Stewart, Nate Suggs, Joey Taranto, Katie Thrasher, Matthew Tiberi, Maximiliano Torandell, Kit Treece, Christopher Trepinski, Jessica Treubig, Kei Tsuruharatani, Raleigh Tyler, Jena VanElslander, Alec Varcas, Mykel Vaughn, Richard E. Watts, Naomi C. Walley, Lincoln Ward, Katie Webber, Colt Weiss, Steven Wenslawski, Randy Witherspoon, Jody Cole Wood, Ryan Worsing and Rachel Yucht.