High Times for Atlanta Lowbrow

Creative Loafing

August 27, 2008

“Part of the reason why Atlanta has such a diverse lowbrow scene is everyone’s really well-networked,” says Sadie Hawkins, 32, who formed Blast-Off with Barb Hays after they met in the now-defunct Doll Squad. “Also, the people here are very well-rounded. It’s not like ‘I’m a rockabilly guy!’ People are more open to exploring different things here.”

Barb Hays and Hawkins met in the city’s growing vintage-scooter scene. They recruited another vintage-scooter rider, Dickie Van Dyke, who as a drag king adds to the troupe’s neo-vaudevillian tone. In less than two years, their crowds of about 200 have outgrown the cozy confines of the Alcove Gallery in Avondale Estates. They often collaborate with another burlesque upstart, Syrens of the South.

Dames Aflame clearly is the most traditional and, it should be noted, boasts the more classic burlesque figures among its members. Which is what makes watching Blast-Off and the sometimes plus-sized Syrens of the South such a wonderful complement to the Dames’ more overt sexiness.

“We’re all just average joes with average bodies,” says Barb Hays, 43. “The sexiness comes with the total confidence in what you’re doing.” In the recent Go West! show at Alcove, Hays happily danced around in her Little Bo Peep costume. As the crowd howled with approval, she sang “I Wanna Be Loved By You” while sodomizing a small black-sheep blow-up doll with her staff.

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