Pick Your Poison!
What: A night of drag king and burlesque performances
When: 10 p.m. Saturday
Where: Tubby’s Bar, 4350 Fowler St., Fort Myers
Admission: No cover; 21 and older only
Information: (239) 274-5001 or
All of us could use a little spice in our weekend routine.
So how about having a little fun while you shake up your gender role perceptions? A new show called “Pick Your Poison!” presented by Hen House Entertainment in Fort Myers this Saturday promises to do both.
It’s a new burlesque and “drag king” troupe that’s a Southwest Florida first. According to its founder, it fills a unique niche in the area. Jodi Hahn, who goes by the stage name Autumn Skye, formed the group after moving here from New York and discovering a distinct lack of entertainment choices for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. What choices did exist tended to cater less to the ladies, she said.
Getting out there
Hen House seeks to expand those choices for that population, as well as the horizons of adventurous or curious folks who just want to experience something a bit sexy, edgy and fun.
“Let us be your first time,” said Billy Table, one of the lovely ladies who performs as her alter ego King William. She’s also the driving force behind TwoThreeNine.com, a new website providing listings for cultural and entertainment events in Fort Myers.
“We want everyone to feel welcome,” said Hahn. “It was created primarily as something to instill more life and provide representation for the lesbian community.” However, men are certainly invited, and might find it a refreshing alternative to more familiar adult entertainment choices, she says.
Layers of fun
Autumn Skye delivered a preview burlesque dance performance last weekend as the finale for a feminist art event hosted by Cool Hand Luc’s in Fort Myers, a funky new coffee and ice cream café that’s proven a cultural event fire hose of its own. Donning a fedora and red-sequined gown, the petite beauty batted lashes and bandied flashes of shimmering underclothes, accompanied by a sultry Nina Simone tune.
The vaudevillian display seemed a welcome antidote to an all-or-nothing culture where to admire the female form as a form of entertainment one can choose a strip club on one end of the anemic spectrum or an art museum on the other.
Table explained, “The way we perform, you can come up to us, we’ll give you a kiss on the cheek, you can kiss us on the cheek, give us a dollar. It’s not offensive — it’s fun.
“You don’t have to be a woman, you don’t have to be gay,” Hahn said. “You just have to have an open mind. You’re not going to see something that’s going to give you nightmares.”
A royal drag?
Although they don’t occupy a mainstream role, drag queens have enjoyed a good degree of visibility with the help of such iconic figures as RuPaul and breakout films such as “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert “and “The Birdcage (La Cage Aux Folles).” The cultural landscape, though, has yet to warm up to their male-impersonating counterparts.
People love burlesque today because it incorporates all the old-school glamour, satire and highlights the female form — it’s something that many women can actually see themselves doing.
Baby Doe, burlesque star
People dress and perform in drag for different reasons. A common theme between kings and queens, though, is an exploration of identity as a dynamic process rather than a fixed state. They often strive to caricature certain accepted gender-associated traits, rather than aiming for a dead-on imitation of the other sex. The basic point is to create an illusion that engages audience members to find some space for play within their expectations.
“There’s a unique beauty about someone who can be a drag king,” said Hahn. “If you take a pretty girl, and you’re able to make her handsome at the same time — how many people can do that?”
Your cup of tea
The women of Hen House assure us that between the female burlesque dancers, the drag kings, an assortment of music and styles and a healthy dash of humor, there will be something for almost everyone. That’s the story behind the name of the show, “Pick Your Poison!”
“It’s a variety show,” explained Hahn, “so there will be burlesque dancers and drag kings. But within that, each performer is very different from each other. Whatever you’re into, whether you’re a guy, a girl, or straight or whatever, if you open your mind up enough, you will find something that is your cup of tea.”
Hahn also said she hopes by being a powerful presence in the community, the group will increase awareness of LGBT issues and help people struggling with their sexual identity to feel less alone. Compared to New York she said, “People are much more in the closet” in Southwest Florida. She hopes to develop some energy with Hen House and when the time is right, ultimately establish a pride parade in Southwest Florida.
“It’s ludicrous we don’t have one. … I think people should be done being quiet. This place is changing a lot,” she said. “And this is going to be a tidal wave.”