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Theater & Dance

Don’t Miss: Nasty Drew and That Harder Boy Queers a Treasured Classic

Don’t Miss: Nasty Drew and That Harder Boy Queers a Treasured Classic

John Goddard

The new show is a hedonistic blend of burlesque, boylesque, drag, cabaret, and parody.

When entertainer Chris Harder decided to create a scripted burlesque performance, he told international burlesque star Nasty Canasta, "I want to do Nancy Drew, except it's going to be called Nasty Drew, and you're going to be in it." Having started in theater before transitioning into nightlife and burlesque, he saw this as a perfect opportunity to meld together his passions. "I've had every job available to a young man, from waiting on tables, to dancing on them, to laying on them," says Harder. "It's been an interesting journey creating the show."

The wholesome world of The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew seems to be the antithesis of burlesque and its celebration of sex and sexuality. Yet, Harder mines the source material and creates a hilarious, entertaining evening. "The humor of the show is a lot of my personality," says Harder. "I am super campy. I love the absurd. And, I really love Nancy Drew."

Flipping iconic figures allows him to point out flaws in American society that were glossed over by the original tales. "In the Nancy Drew world everyone owns a convertible, and everyone eats three meals a day," says Harder. "It's a part of American culture that doesn't exist anymore, and really didn't exist in the time that it was written, which is a big criticism of the books."

The disparity in cultural perception versus reality is where Harder and his cast really have fun. While honoring the originals, Harder and Canasta keep their tongues firmly planted in their cheeks delivering lines chock-full of double entendre and flairs of witty homoeroticism. They bring spice and heat with sexy strip teases, along with burlesque staples like Pearls Daily, Fancy Feast, Bastard Keith, and Mr. Gorgeous, who also tickle ribs and earn hearty guffaws with their bizarrely humorous, highly sexualized characters.

As an art form, burlesque is surprisingly autonomous. Harder wrote the script, but the program lists that all solos are the creation of the individual performers. "You make your solos, you make your costumes, you choreograph it, and then you really just book it out," he says. "It's a community industry, and I don't think there is any other performance community that supports themselves in that way."

While queer friendly, Nasty Drew and That Harder Boy's most refreshing aspect may be the mixed audience it draws. "I think people love to celebrate sexuality," says Harder. "Once someone gets that first taste of burlesque, they finally get that it's not just about the body. It's about how we tell these stories onstage with the body, which can be smart, funny, and sexy, but still provocative."

Catch Nasty Drew and That Harder Boy at the Laurie Beechman Theater through May 15, 2016. For tickets and information, please visit

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