Books uncovered: Burlesque dancers take on classic stories, take off clothes

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From the Bible to the Torah, from Dr. Seuss to the Brothers Grimm, if you can print it, they can strip to it.

A busty troupe of literary-minded show girls have learned art’s most important lesson — if you’re going to steal, steal from the best.

That why they’re choreographing sexy strip teases that riff on classic works of literature in an act called Storybook Burlesque.

“Any kind of wonderful literature, children’s or adult, we’re knocking them down and doing nasty things to them,” said performer Cheeky Lane.

Every show is based off a classic story and each performer hand crafts her segment to portray a particular scene, character, or moment.

There’s only one criteria — strip.

“We do our interpretation, put our burlesque twist on it — we take liberties,” said Lane. “The strip tease is our only staple.”

The burlesque twist to a classic tale might not yield the most faithful interpretation, but the performers are often just as big of fans as the audience, and take care not to offend the source material too much.

“We want to desecrate it in the best way possible,” explained Lane. “We get a lot of people saying stuff like, ‘I never knew Matilda could be so sexy.’ ”

Even the shedding of clothes, be it Little Bo Peep’s pouffe dress or Jesus’s toga, helps tell the story they’re trying to share, the dancers say.

“As Little Bo Peep, I have to shed some clothes to entice my sheep to follow me,” said Storybook Burlesque dancer Bitty Bamboo. “So it’s kind of that idea, where you try to find a reason why parts of my costume should be removed.”

So far, Storybook Burlesque has knocked Dr. Seuss, the Grimm fairy tales, Roald Dahl, Shakespeare, and the Bible off of their reading list, among others.

This summer’s performance will focus on legendary Greek tales, and no myth, nor Zeus himself, will be safe.

Storybook Burlesque at Coney Island USA [1208 Surf Ave. near W 12th Street in Coney Island, (718) 372–5159,]. Aug. 31, 10 pm. $15.

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at or by calling (718) 260-4514.
Updated 4:29 am, August 21, 2012
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