Burlesque has a storied history in New York City. It first appeared in the 1800s, mixed in with other vaudevillian entertainment, and it rose in popularity (and decreased in clothing) until Mayor La Guardia and moral outcry got to it in the 1940s. That’s when many Times Square burlesque theaters closed and attendees of Depression-era shows were reduced to “sex crazed perverts.” Later, many of these very buildings became home to peep shows and sex clubs in the seedier days of Times Square, which in turn suffered a similar fate during the Giuliani-led Disneyfication of the neighborhood in the ’90s. As this was happening, groups of artists in underground venues were bringing creative and often strange stripping back to the city, giving birth to what is now hailed as the neo-burlesque movement.
The fifth season of Game of Thrones doesn’t premiere until April 12, but if you’re missing its byzantine intrigue, bloodshed and sexiness you can quell your thirst for Westeros (and Essos) with a new show from Hotsy Totsy Burlesque. “Game of Tassels” comes to the Slipper Room this Thursday.