Burlesque Dancers Become the Avatars for Neil Gaiman's American Gods in this NSFW Gallery

Metropolis Burlesque Honored the Fantasy Novel/TV Show with Aerial Dancing and Charm

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Burlesque Dancers Become the Avatars for Neil Gaiman's <i>American Gods</i> in this NSFW Gallery

New York’s Metropolis Burlesque has long specialized in translating iconic works of genre fiction and pop culture to the stage, where dancers creatively shed clothing to reveal the soul of their favorite characters. The troupe, organized by host Moe Cheezmo, has proven through multiple performances that it’s not important what comes off, but how it comes off. Their Sandman homage two years ago bristled with pathos and humor, bringing Neil Gaiman’s iconic comic to life with scrappy adoration. Even the existence of “nerdlesque” hints at bigger questions, including female participation in treehouses usually barred off by exclusionary dudes.

Cheezmo banded together last week to worship at the altar of Gaiman once more, this time serving as avatars from American Gods. The acclaimed fantasy novel, published in 2001, follows an ex-con, Shadow, as he road-trips through an America packed with the global deities of yore, ready to battle the obsessions of modern society, including the internet, the stock market and media. This year, Starz and showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green debuted an inspired television series starring Ian McShane, Ricky Whittle and Emily Browning. Like the book, it’s pretty great.

Cheezmo appropriately played Wednesday, the grand orchestrator of the book’s looming battle, announcing each character as they came on stage. For the pre-show and intermission, Aphrodite Rose assumed the role of Easter, showing off a literal ham and go-go dancing. Petite Renard slipped into the resurrected body of Laura Moon, showing off autopsy scars and guzzling from Urd’s Well to preserve her corpse. Rebecca Fey Collins’ turn as Zorya Vechernyaya hoisted her into the sky as the Evening Star, as she fell, twirled, hanged and seduced from an aerial silk performance.

On a more frenzied note, Triple Jay’s Mad Sweeney showed his leprechaun goods via a pot-of-gold thong. Iris Explosion embodied college hitchhiker Samantha Black Crow, laying out her memorable monologue on theology and heritage, albeit with far more nudity. Taradise was the only performer to tackle a “new” god, slipping into the ‘50s polka-dot dress of Media (who also assumes the form of Lucy Ricardo from I Love Lucy…read the book). Leg kicks and creative use of aprons ensued. Logan Laveau’s turn as Egyptian cat deity Bast appropriately mirrored feline body language, with lots of slinking, prowling and predatory maneuvers.

Finally, Jack Sullivan channeled the violent, dark aura of Slavic god, Czernobog. Instead of slaying cows, Sullivan hammered nails up his nose and laid on a bed of spikes with a watermelon resting on his chest. As a finale, Cheezmo smashed the massive fruit with Czernobog’s hammer, giving credence to the meta-reality that the only pain gods feel is when followers stop believing in them.

For a deeper insight into the night, check out expert photographer Drew Reynolds’ (NSFW) photos in the gallery above.