by Jim Gladstone
On Monday, July 11, Broadway Bares, the slick and sexy series of burlesque extravaganzas that’s raised millions of dollars for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS over 24 annual performances is, for the first time ever, being mounted outside of Manhattan.
Taking place at San Francisco’s Club Fugazi as a benefit for the Richmond/Ermet Aid Foundation, the show will feature Jai Rodriguez, American Idol’s David Hernandez, trans performer Cassandra Cass, Queer as Folk’s Randy Harrison (currently starring in the national touring company of Cabaret) along with a gaggle of local go-go and take-it-off talents.
Created in 1992 by Jerry Mitchell—then a dancer in shows including The Will Rogers Follies and Brigadoon, now a two-time Tony-winning choreographer (La Cage Aux Folles, Kinky Boots)—Broadway Bares has become a sexy staple of the New York theater scene.
The San Francisco production, cheekily themed “Tech Tails”, is fully endorsed by Mitchell and helmed by Deb Leamy, a 2015 transplant to the city and veteran onstage and behind-the-scenes participant in several years of New York Bares events.
“When I first moved here, I was just out of a long relationship and wanted to get involved with a project that would help me grow some roots and connect to a community,” says Leamy, whose own stage credits include being an original cast member in 1999 Tony-winning review Fosse. “I called Jerry. He was very supportive and he pointed me to Richmond/Ermet as the charity most aligned with the types of events and causes that Broadway Cares supports.”
Six weeks of rehearsals and countless behind-the-scenes hours have added up to what Leamy says is a show closely modeled on the New York events, with opening and closing production numbers bookending ten individual acts in which a striptease is worked into a clever tech-themed scenario. As in New York, says Leamy, the ecdysiasts skew more male than female.
“We don’t have spectacular production values at a New York level yet,” says Leamy. “But we’re hoping to turn this into an annual event that will grow more and more elaborate.”
Patrons are urged to come prepared to supplement their ticket fees with additional charitable donations, which can be conveniently deposited in performers’ outfits throughout the show.
Broadway Bares SF: Tech Tails
678 Beach Blanket Babylon Boulevard, San Francisco
Monday, July 11