Using a medley of pop culture, video game and Internet references, SUNY New Paltz’s Alpha Psi Ecdysia (APE) are bringing their all new performance of “Dungeons and Drag Queens” to the Parker Theatre stage on Dec. 9 and 10 with a goal of stripping away any misconceptions that geeky and sexy can’t be one in the same.
“Plain and simple, burlesque is a venue for showing sexuality in its various forms,” said second-year student Veronica O’Malley, a member of APE. “And for a gamer chick like me, this show especially showcases my two favorite things: nerds and sex appeal.”
Coming off of their Halloween performance of “Invasion of the Booby Snatchers,” each member of APE has worked to conceptualize, choreograph and costume their own act for the upcoming show, which will feature 13 never-before-seen numbers.
According to O’Malley, after collectively deciding the theme with a group vote, performers were given the task of choosing who or what to nerd-out about and represent in burlesque fashion.
“I’m hoping to manifest the audience’s dirty thoughts about characters they shouldn’t think about like that,” O’Malley said.
For fourth-year student and APE founder Jenny Weinbloom, “Dungeons and Drag Queens,” represents a way to challenge the common perception that geekism is not only male-dominated, but unsexy.
Instead of encouraging the idea that “hot women only exist in nerd culture to serve as untouchable eye candy,” Weinbloom said she hopes to prove that beautiful females and males can be huge nerds too.
“Sexiness and beauty are skills like any other that need to be cultivated over time through study and practice,” Weinbloom said. “As such, nerds – being intellectuals with a tendency toward hyper-focusing on their autodidactic pursuits as well as people who spend a lot of time on the Internet – are often great beauties of the self-made sort.”
Alongside references to many television shows and films, the performances will also utilize Internet memes like “LOL kittens,” which will replace the group’s usual sex kittens that provide stage cleanup and setup.
Besides having a “special surprise” in store for attendees, Weinbloom said this will be the group’s first show to include a raffle.
“We’ve talked for years about setting up a ‘Pasties and Pastries’ stand at our shows where we sell handmade nipple tassels and home baked goods and we’re finally doing it for this show,” Weinbloom said.
Since this will be her final show before she graduates this month, Weinbloom said there will be special guest appearances by APE founding members and alums Gemma Stone, Spartacus Rising, Anton Jackov, Miss Elixir, Izebel Vivant, Angelique A’LaMode and Ophelia Diphthong.
For first-year theatre major Samantha DeMonte, a member of APE, performing with the burlesque troupe has been a way to become more confident in her own skin.
“We strive to express ourselves in a different way,” she said. “Being a burlesque performer is not only about taking your clothes off; it’s also about using your creativity, and not being afraid to show it.”
DeMonte said all the members of APE are a tight knit group, and although “Dungeons and Drag Queens” will only be her second performance with the troupe, it has been an experience she has cherished.
According to DeMonte, burlesque may have a negative image to those who do not understand it. But despite that, the feedback the troupe has received has been very positive.
“We’re all naked underneath our clothes and people should stop trying to ignore that,” she said. “People should be proud of their bodies, clothed or not.”
Third-year linguistics major and APE member Kim Kelly said she looks forward to hearing the gasps and squeals of delight when audience members realize that a certain act is a tribute to their particular brand of nerdery.
Even though finals are approaching and things have gotten very hectic for the troupe, Kelly said each member has shown an enormous dedication toward working on their respective acts and are beyond excited to showcase them for everyone to enjoy.
According to Kelly, if there is one thing that can be said about nerds, it’s that they’re passionate people – and passion is always sexy.
“The next time you see two nerds discussing their favorite fandom, watch closely,” she said. “After a few minutes you’ll start to feel a bit like a voyeur. You may want to give them a minute alone; things might start to get hot.”