Arts » Theater + Dance

Rocket Doll Revue: A burlesque Rat Pack



Rocket Doll Revue bleeds for your entertainment.

"Look at my leg!" yells Bunny Beretta as she descends from the stage after a Las Vegas-themed burlesque show. "I cut my leg getting onstage and went on with the act. Because, you know, I'm hardcore and all that."

A burlesque troupe that goes beyond the tease, Rocket Doll stages elaborately choreographed routines just as likely to feature a virgin sacrifice and buckets of blood as pasties and glitter fascinators.

"It's not a Rocket Doll show unless there's murder or blood!" says member Mae 'Mid' West, fresh off a skit that saw her beating fellow performer Kelzey Quik Lee to death.

If you've run into one member of the group, you've probably run into several. Frenchy, Desiree, Kelzey, Mae, Bunny, Trini Bikinii, and Patsy Blue Ribbon - they're the city's bedazzled Rat Pack, a troupe of friends who often live together and perform together.

Those friendships preceded - and led to - the group's founding: "We were partying for my birthday in 2010 and went to a vaudeville show, and afterwards some of the people in the group asked if we were a burlesque troupe," says Frenchy LaRouge. "We were like, 'No, but we should be!'"

And indeed, the troupe make quite the splash during regular performances at the White Rabbit or hosting Burlesque Trivia at The Sinking Ship, bedecked in outfits that pay tribute to times past.

Even the name itself is vintage, implying a 1950s atomic-age combination of singing, tap-dancing, variety show and striptease. "We all have different personas - it's about creating your character, attitude and signature look," Desiree says. "Figuring out your character is a huge part of this, and it's something you do on your own."

Right in the middle of all this is announcer/host Marv O. Luste, usually the performance's sole male member, who plays the role of equal parts vaguely creepy flasher and overwhelmed rube.

"I'm in a situation where I'm surrounded by six or seven beautiful, naked women, and my goal is to keep them happy," he notes.

"He does anything we tell him to!" Frenchy beams.

"They needed someone sleazy and they thought of me," Marv ruminates. "I'm the bra. I'm here to support them."

Two years in, Rocket Doll's relentless schedule shows little sign of easing. And their offerings tend to be out there on the edge.

"The difference between cabaret and burlesque is, we do consider ourselves strippers," Desiree says. "This is an adult entertainment. We want to tantalize the audience. When it comes right down to it, people are paying us to artfully remove our clothing. Striptease is the heart of burlesque, the core of the thing. We're not going to be booking the State Fair or the Indy 500."

But there is more to it than striptease. Rocket Doll treats burlesque as life-plus, the world spread out in a dazzling, widescreen Technicolor. And behind it all is that Rat Pack feel. The show doesn't end once they step off the stage.

"This is all very personal to us," Desiree says. "We don't run it like a business. This is our baby. We like to be really bedazzled when we're out in public, really fashion-heavy rock and roll girls with the full hair, makeup and outfits. We're all best friends, we all live together, and we function as a group of like-minded friends. It's like a brain we all share."


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