You’ve put down your money (if you wanna stay in the spirit of things, call it a nickel) and been ushered into the small, dimly-lit hall that smells faintly of lilac and perhaps a bit less faintly of beer. Finding a seat at one of the benches in front of the stage, you try not to make eye contact with the other patrons — after all, you’re not here to see them. After a moment, there’s a flash of action onstage — a beautiful, buxom brunette appears at center, welcoming you all to the burlesque. The main spotlight fills the stage as the curtains open to reveal a trim, lovely blonde, swaying to the rhythm of the music that reaches your ears, a flame dancing in her hand as she passes it along her body. This flame illuminates more than just flesh, however — it illuminates pain, disease…even death. Alluringly, she continues her dance…flowing…hypnotic…until she is joined by the brunette from before who brings her a small cup — a cup that’s contents she uses to wash away the maladies and the pain, at first gingerly, and finally with a wash of crimson that takes away all that remains of the blights upon her perfect form — you stand agape, but with a wondrous, childlike smile, as you realized both with a twinge of fear and a burst of enlightenment that the substance that cleansed this woman of her taints was the very essence of life itself — fresh, warm blood…
Sounds like an interesting show, doesn’t it? Well that’s Patricia Chica’s Bloody Burlesque — and it properly fits the bill of a show so titled. Serving to showcase Women In Horror Month, it’s also a part of an anthology of shorts for the Massive Blood Drive PSA, curated by the renown Soska Sisters. Recognizing that many people are afraid of donating blood, this year’s theme focuses on facing down your fears to serve a greater good.
Chica’s film does this in a sneaky way; using horror film lovelies Tiffany Shepis and Tonya Kay to carry forth her message, she cloaks the fear in the guilty pleasure of a burlesque show, Shepis as an emcee of sorts, and Kay as the sexy dancer.
In a clever method, Kay’s body is used as a canvas to show the different struggles many people face due to blood deficiencies, diseases, and shortages — these are marked on her quite plainly, and she uses her signature fire dance to suggestively illustrate the suffering that these things cause — and then she sensually washes away those afflictions with a scarlet torrent of blood, rising at the end with a smile and a sense of relief — relief that is also apparent in the eyes of the audience. Its symbolism is powerful, but not overbearing — quite an achievement for a public service announcement.
Chica’s direction is spot-on in giving the look and feel of an old burlesque show, the angles and lighting following her actors and the close up leers and looks of shock from the audience — all of this congeals to form a convincing and poignant picture of the need for blood donation without being preachy or boring. The film presents an important message in a sexy, bloody way to remind all of us out there that when it comes to much-needed blood…
. . .”It’s In You To Give”.
I’m paying the whole nickel for this show.
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