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Warhol’s world and lacy lingerie

As a couple of amiable and aging widowers, we love to ramble around Berkshire County and environs in search of new people and cultural experiences. These past couple of weeks were no exception.

We hit events from the Steiner School Holiday Handcraft Fair to a burlesque show, from the offbeat and off the beaten path Dream Away Lodge in Becket to Pecha Kucha’s 20 slides in 20 seconds at the Berkshire Museum.

Our one out-of-state trip was to Hudson, N.Y., to see the black and white images of Andy Warhol at the Hudson Opera House. And we had a couple of other stops along the way.

We did the Hudson trip and burlesque show the same day, and these two events stood out.

Warhol on the Hudson

We met in Great Barrington, Smithsonian magazine’s “best small town in America,” and drove over to Hudson, fast becoming one of our favorite haunts.

Our destination was the Andy Warhol photo exhibit at the opera house, built in 1855 as Hudson’s first city hall and now New York State’s oldest surviving theatre.

But our first stop, as usual,was for a few quiet moments at Parade Hill, a small park overlooking the Hudson River. Located at the end of Warren Street, this little oasis, with its expansive westward view, silent monuments and sedate benches, is the perfect complement to this resurrected district of art galleries, restaurants and antique shops.

Next up was to get a swallow of coffee at, where else, Swallow Coffee. We took a window perch and watched all the passersby, an interesting mix of townies and tradesmen, dog walkers and day trippers. Truly a front row seat on America. We would occasionally guess about who some of them were and where they were going.

A short stroll up the street to the opera house and we found ourselves back in the 1960s. Photographer David McCabe, a rather cherubic fellow, was hired by Warhol to document a year in the life of that rising New York City art sensation.

But McCabe told us Warhol never used the photos because McCabe staged most of them, and the artist felt that perhaps he was ceding control of his own image, something he famously preferred to keep for himself. So the 2,500 photos were stuck in a drawer for 40 years until some were first published as a book in 2003, 16 years after Warhol’s death.

The 33 photos on display feature pictures of Warhol, both alone and with other avant grade personalities who populated his universe, if only briefly, including a young Mick Jagger and Salvador Dali. (In truth, to the wild and eccentric Dali, Warhol was only a small blip in his universe.)

The exhibit tells the story of Warhol’s life at the Factory, the East 47th Street building that served as his studio and gathering place for his circle of friends, colleagues and hangers-on. But it’s clear from the book and exhibit, Warhol considered his greatest creation to be himself.

The area’s best burlesque

Leaving behind the black and white world of Andy Warhol, we headed next to the very colorful world of lacy lingerie and flesh offered by Gypsy Layne upstairs at Spice Dragon in Pittsfield. Expecting not much more than a few pretty faces and a little titillation, we found the performance to be lively, professionally done and very entertaining.

The troupe – consisting of five lovely young ladies and three lithe young men – sang, danced and told ribald stories to an audience of about 100 hand-clapping, cheering enthusiasts. It was mostly a saucy cabaret, with a lot of Hoochie Koochie and wild dancing, but there were occasional bouts of well-choreographed and executed modern dance, especially one number featuring all the dancers fully clothed and wearing expressionless white masks.

Who goes to a burlesque show, you might ask?  Well, your grandmother could have been there. There were folks of all ages.

Most of the patrons did seem to be in their 30s and 40s, however. And contrary to what many people believe, there were just as many ladies in the audience as gentlemen.

By the way, as we expected there were plenty of pretty faces and other delicious things on display – both male and female – but, as we’re learning, with most good burlesque, there was more singing, dancing and jubilation than titillation in this very fun evening.

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Posted by on December 27, 2012. Filed under Arts and Entertainment,Columns,Opinion,Travel. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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