The Illicit Thrill
Pure filth on the Fringe
This article is from 2015.
After 2014's Illicit Thrill, which pushed the boundaries of burlesque into the territory of the old-school strip pub, 2015's edition chases an even filthier aesthetic. Gypsy Charms and Savannah conclude the show with an act that has probably never been seen outside of a lap-dancing club; the stripping nun returns – with added pole dancing – and Chris Wilson adds blasphemy with his JC striptease.
If the eroticism is uncompromising, the concept is higher and the intelligence evident. Charm's mission is not merely to 'teach Edinburgh to perv responsibly' but to remove striptease from male-only spaces and present it to a theatre audience. Instead of burlesque's irony, The Illicit Thrill revels in nudity and sexual abandon, only to undercut it in a brilliant and cynical finale that is both two-girl lesbian show and an update of The Anatomy of a Pin-Up.
It's a shame Edinburgh councillors don't throw temper tantrums about Fringe shows any more. Ten years ago, Gypsy Charms would have ended up on the front page of the Evening News and a wide public discussion about sex work would grip the capital. This would, at least, reveal the analysis of both simplistic critiques of lap dancing and the plethora of shows about sex work. Certainly there are members of the audience that are not there for the conceptual deconstruction, and enjoy the acts on a more visceral level. But The Illicit Thrill is the intellectual buzz of this layered, complicated take on how sexuality is used on stage – and perhaps how often sex workers are not portrayed but exploited by theatre.
The Voodoo Room, until 30 Aug, 12.20am, £8