The Smoking Gun Revue

“Roc!” Sweet T yelled through the front doors of Connie’s Ric Rac, “Get your ass in here! Jason is about to eat some bugs!”

I threw my half smoked clove onto the ground and rushed inside. I got to the bar just as Dead Flower’s front man Mister E. (the madman behind The Smokin’ Gun Revue) stepped on stage and was bantering with the crowd.

“Citywide, as quick as you can!” I said to the bartender, who smiled and hurried back with the customary shot and pounder combo that fueled Philly nightlife.

As I downed the brownish liquid and chased it with the yellowish one, I thought: “I fuckin’ hate bugs. Why do I wanna watch someone eat bugs?!

But it was too late. This was what I had come here for. As I sat down in a chair, I watched the Clown Prince of Darkness prepare his dastardly act. And then abruptly, he began pulling live crickets from a container and started shoveling them into his mouth. I could hear the crunch of exoskeletons being demolished by incisors and canines. It made me shudder.


“WHO WANTS SOME!?” he yelled, and began throwing the crickets at audience members from up on stage.

Fuck!” I thought, “He’s aiming over here!

Sure enough (before my brain had a chance to move my squeamish body) a live cricket landed in my lap! I furiously batted at it and stomped on the ground. “Why did it have to be bugs? I fucking hate bugs!”

From there, Mister E. began eating live earth worms; he was sucking on them in the same fashion as when I first met him at the Dead Flowers Block Party earlier in the summer. The man has a particular taste for the bizarre.

I needed another drink after watching that. I went up to the bartender and said “Another City Wide please!” and I threw my bills on the counter and I downed my shot. Fucking crickets… You guys don’t understand. Roc Borja may be an adventurer, a connoisseur of interesting tastes, and an avid fan of trying new things but dammit, I am such a pussy when it comes to bugs.

The night had been both interesting and erotic so far. I had never been to a burlesque show before, so I had no idea what to expect.


Each burlesque dancer was a gorgeous specimen. Every one of them danced with a level of class that is forgotten by this generation’s “twerkaholics” and ‘exotic’ dancers. Despite the class, however, there was still plenty of ass. More than I typically see on a Saturday night. I admit that my stupid, boyish grin was hard to hide while these vixens shook their titty tassels and ass tassels (known as “assels”) on stage for us. They danced while screams of “ow ow!” and various other cat calls and whistles were sent in their direction. I felt like I was in an episode of the short-lived HBO show, Carnivale.

Aly Katz performed a very memorable and revealing version of “Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini”. Keycifer Blakk sported a tantalizing Parisian outfit, complete with twirling umbrella and frilly panties. Morrighan Oh Tulle danced the dance of the zombie surfer girl, and swung her “assles” while pouring glitter all over herself. The one and only Smurf came out in elegant white dress and goat mask and stripped down to her breasts and an alluring set of goat legs. Miss Rose wowed us with a sexy tribute to Adventure Time’s vampire Marceline and an homage to the beautiful babes of James Bond.


The music acts and sideshow performers had been great too. The musical stylings of Velvet Crayon had us transfixed for not one but two separate sets. His “Children’s song” about Old Mother Hubbard and Jack Horner stubbing his toe is anything but child-friendly. Playing all of his music himself with the use of effects pedals and dexterous fingers, he was (as always) truly impressive to watch.

Great Neck followed Velvet Crayon’s first set. Anomie Fatale sang about the devious, Eponymous doctor from Great Neck, NY and serenaded a cold hotdog for an entire song. Their hard, grungy riffs and Anomie’s melodic vocal accompaniment had me standing to get a better look. While repeating “I wanna fuck your shadow” she proceeded to strip down to pasties and panties right there on stage.

Between each dancer and musical performer Mister E. lauded the audience while Joey Patrone played DJ and warmed us up with a hearty drumroll, and Aliya Strychnine and Needles Jones kept us laughing with their risqué blend of burlesque and unique comedy.


Whatever was coming up next should be good.

“And for our next sideshow performance, the lovely Rachel Rotten!”

Intrigued, I watched as a cute, shy looking girl proceeded to dump a bucket full of broken glass down on the stage.

Broken glass?” I thought, “I hate broken glass…”

Then she kneeled in the glass.
She rolled in it.
She poured it over her face.
She walked on it.
She even grabbed it in her hands and rubbed it on her chest.

Me? I sat there with my hands on my face, half covering my eyes like a scared little girl.

Mister E. sat down next to me as I clutched my face in terror.

“So!? How do you like the show, Roc?”


He laughed at me.

“Oh man, you guys gotta come to the next show, then. I’m working on some really crazy acts with animal traps and stuff.”
“Y-Yeah?” I asked hesitantly.
“I mean, I do stuff with mouse traps and rat traps already –”
Mister E. cut off my audible shuddering
“– but I bought these minx traps. Oh! and I also have this coyote trap that I put my leg into!”
“But… Isn’t that gonna hurt?
“Yeah! But, that’s the whole point, you know?” he said, laughing maniacally before jumping back on stage to introduce the next dancer.

I had a feeling I would have to be there for that act. I smiled at his passion and enthusiasm. That same salt-of-the-earth vibe that was present at the block party was evidently a part of everything Dead Flowers did. Despite appearances and unusual talents, these people were no different than me; they were just trying to make a career out of doing the things they loved.

The bottom line:
These guys and girls will have you laughing and smiling and cheering (and maybe cringing a little too) the whole time. You’ll clap so hard that blood vessels will pop in your hands (mine did – true story). The Smokin’ Gun Revue was an evening full of seductive, provocative entertainment and depraved fun. This wasn’t your run of the mill strip-show. This is where neo-burlesque is being reborn. If you attend a Dead Flowers show there’s a good chance you’re gunna see some crazy shit. This show will leave you stimulated in more than one way (and maybe even slightly queasy), but I guarantee that you won’t be able to turn your head.

Check out Dead Flower’s here:

Great Neck’s band page:

Velvet Crayon’s band page: