Hazel Honeysuckle, burlesque performer and actress; Park Slope, Brooklyn; left
I might have been in college when I first saw King Kong. I watched it again to study for this, and I appreciate how technically advanced and complex it was for its time. This show is equally challenging in its way compared to your run-of-the-mill burlesque show. I love Fay Wray’s drama, the arms and expressions are really silent-film drama. And that’s a lot of fun to play! I couldn’t be happier with how this went.
Nasty Canasta, late 30s; neo-ecdysiast; “Park Slope-sh,” Brooklyn; right
I don’t like monkeys. The only reason I’ve seen King Kong is because I’m an insomniac and it was always on the late movies. I liked it but, you know…monkeys. A lot of the logistics, like the Empire State Building, were challenging to think through, but it ended up being like, duh, have a naked girl do it!
Don Spiro, 44; photographer and producer of Wit’s End; Astoria, Queens and Los Angeles, CA
It was Doc and Nasty’s idea to do this, as we figured out how to top the last Wasabassco–Wit’s End collaboration Wasablanca. Doc suggested King Kong, which he didn’t know was my favorite movie as a kid. It was a big part of both our lives growing up. Nasty’s adaptation for the burlesque stage is pretty faithful, as well as clever and innovative. Its Wasabassco’s most ambitious production to date and I hope we can remount it many more times.
Doc Wasabassco, "942"; impresario, Brooklyn; left
Realizing Kong as a fully theatrical burlesque event has been the fulfillment of a lifelong desire to pay tribute to a favorite film and a beloved character. I grew up in a Kong-friendly household, my older brother being the world's foremost authority on Kong, and many of my earliest memories are of Kong. As an event producer constantly in search of ways to raise the bar on what kind of shows we can do, this was a personal triumph and I'm immensely proud of the production and all of the performers, crew, and fellow producers who helped bring it to life.
Ray Morton, “105”; film historian and writer, and brother of Doc Wasabassco; Los Angeles , CA
I’m fascinated to see the show tonight! I guess my influence from when Doc and I were kids together stuck with him, and its fun that its inspired something so colorful and so clever. The wit and camp of the film marries perfectly with burlesque and they’re really going all out. Plus, burlesque is associated with the 20s and 30s, and so is Kong—so its kind of ideal.
The scene: Wasabassco’s Kong at the Bell House
It’s been 80 years since RKO pictures released the original King Kong—and to honor the titular cultural icon, Wasabassco Burlesque and Wit’s End presented a scripted burlesque love letter to the film. With the incomparable Nasty Canasta serving as the show’s writer and director, the Bell House audience was treated to a nostalgia-fueled evening of jungle fever.