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The Show Goes Downtown


One Happy Man Murray Hill, the self-proclaimed "hardest-working middle-aged man in show business," checks out all-american girl World Famous *BOB* (left) and sexpot sophisticate Dirty Martini (right).  


Only a boob couldn't see the appeal.

It’s not like nudity has ever been scarce in the naked city. But today, it’s hard to find a hip bar without at least one night a week devoted to buxom girls in blue eye shadow, glittery heels, and pasties. Mondays, they take over Galapagos in Williamsburg; Wednesdays, Low in Dumbo and the new Show Nightclub on 41st Street; Thursdays, Marion’s on the Bowery; Fridays, “Burlesque on the Beach” on Coney Island; Saturdays, the eye-patch-sporting Miss Astrid (Katherine Valentine) hosts the “Va Va Voom Room” at Fez on Lafayette. The World Famous Pontani Sisters copresent the New York Burlesque Festival downtown in May.

It was Giuliani’s crackdown on lap-dancing, at least in part, that prompted the resurgence of burlesque in the early nineties. “When he did that,” says Keith Nelson, “performers started playing with the idea of what’s legal and permissible.” Certainly Julie Atlas Muz straddles the line between stripping and performance art; one routine ends with a toy astronaut landing on a naked Muz and planting a flag in her “moon.”

The emcee of choice is the Jackie Gleason–esque Murray “Howya doin’ kid?” Hill, who credits the rough economy and global tension with the rise of burlesque-as-escapism. “Let’s face it,” he says, “I’m certainly not going to be depressed if I watch *BOB* mix and pour a martini with her boobs!”

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