The New York burlesque dancing troupe, Dutch Weismann’s Follies, were one of the driving forces behind the birth of neo-burlesque. Learn why their shows went down in history.
Neo-burlesque and Dutch Weismann’s Follies
While The Velvet Hammer Burlesque troupe were selling out their glamorous extravaganzas and launching the LA burlesque scene, Dutch Weismann’s Follies were planting seeds in New York. The avant garde shows have gone down in history as the ‘I was there’ moment in the burlesque revival.
Their first location was set up (illegally, tut tut) in a railroad apartment and transformed it into a clandestine speakeasy. There a legend was born.
The story goes that the enigmatic figure of Dutch Weismann took a century of knowledge on the circuit and produced a wild and wonderful show. In truth, as the New York Times discovered, Tony Marando wrote, directed and produced the burlesque show.
The other producer, promoter, his friend and now international cabaret impresario, Norman Gosney, spoke to This is Cabaret about being there. He said, “It set the record for energy expended and fabulousness achieved on a minuscule budget, bringing in adoring, in-on-the-secret audiences.”
He reveals all-night parties with the cast, narrowly avoiding police busts, tin-can lighting and how the relocation to a legal venue eventually quashed the buzz. All happened in a whirlwind of debauchery before the burlesque production went down in flames. He described, “For a million predictable reasons like drugs, “artistic differences” and money, it all fell apart.”
They left a legacy of cloak-and-dagger theatrics on-stage and off, endless champagne and unbelievably decadent burlesque costumes fashioned from thrift. But that isn’t all Dutch Weismann’s Follies had to offer. It also launched such burlesque dancing careers as Angie Pontani.
She has since gone on to been crowned Miss Exotic World 2008 and is a co-producer of the New York Burlesque Festival. Yet, her first experience of burlesque dancing was on the Dutch Weismann’s Follies stage.
Angie Pontani told Pin Curl Magazine, “Dutch Weismann Follies absolutely changed my life. It was everything that I imagined show business would be exquisitely crammed into this exclusive underground show.”
She added, “I am lucky to have been a part of it and can’t wait for Dutch to mount another production! Even after the show closed in a perfect cloud of scandal, as all speakeasy shows should, many of the cast and crew pushed me to keep performing and helped me when I started the Pontani Sisters.”
Here’s to an amazing time in burlesque history and to many more clandestine times. Enjoy Angie Pontani burlesque dancing:
Check out The Velvet Hammer Burlesque Documentary and watch our quick-fire answer to: what is burlesque?
(Main image from This is Cabaret)