In her racy, raucous new burlesque show, Margaret Cho lets it all hang out-literally. Along with a diverse supporting cast of eight, she strips, dances, tells jokes, and celebrates the body in all its various shapes and sizes. Directed by Randall Rapstine and previously staged in L.A., San Francisco, and Chicago, the 90-minute evening could use more of Cho's stand-up and less stripping. Nonetheless, The Sensuous Woman provides a bawdy good time.
After an opening fan dance by the company, Cho does about 15 minutes of stand-up. She disses easy targets-Britney Spears, Senator Craig, and others in the news-but her jokes and delivery are so funny that I soon had tears in my eyes from laughing so hard. Among other things, she enumerates the differences between cruises for gay men and lesbians. On the latter, she notes, They have a Peppermint Patty look-alike contest.
Cho doesn't want to just tell jokes though. Having once been forced to lose 40 pounds for a sitcom that failed, she wants to show that bodies of all shapes and sizes are beautiful. Thus her stand-up is followed by a sexy striptease by a shapely dwarf, Selene Luna. Later on, the downtown performer Dirty Martini strips out of her stars-and-stripes ensemble and appears to pull a flag from a certain nether region. Cho herself shows off her breasts (usually adorned with tassels) and extensive tattoos.
It goes without saying that Cho's 21st-century version of burlesque-body-positive, gay friendly, thoroughly risque -isn't for the prudish. Nor is it for homophobes or Republicans. After all, they wouldn't appreciate the comedy routine of transgendered comedian Ian Harvie, who describes the effects of testosterone in outrageous detail.
But downtown types who love Cho's brand of randy, no-holds-barred humor will have a blast. She even briefly does her famous impression of her Korean mother, recalling when mom chaperoned young Margaret and friends to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. In her next stand-up act, Cho will no doubt reveal what her poor mother thought of this wild and woolly variety show.