Taking it off in the name of health care

Channeling all of the images of an old-world circus, magicians performed magic, an androgynous belly dancer gyrated to raucous applause and women pranced around in nothing but pasties to raise money for local artists Friday.

Burlesque performers from around the District came out to the Red Palace on H Street to support “D.C.’s own sideshow girl,” Mab, Just Mab, in celebration of her birthday and the kick-off benefit for the DCVariety Social Aide Society.

Lucrezia Blozia, a vision in drag with her pink wig and green sequined dress, announced the performances with sardonic humor that drove the crowd wild, while the night’s leading lady sat on the sidelines with a grin and a steady supply of birthday beer.

“I vowed to tell everyone’s dick size,” Blozia said before announcing the first act – juggler Paulo Garbanzo. “Eight and a half inches.”

Mab created the organization after breaking a tooth while performing with the Accidental Circus in January. The sideshow artist, known for daring acts like walking on glass and hammering spikes into her face, stayed strong for that opening night despite the pain.

“I went to the dentist for emergency dental work and I used my rent money to pay for it thinking the money I would make from the tour would be enough to cover it,” Mab said. “And unfortunately it was in January during that freak cold snap and nobody came out to shows.”

After a friend suggested she hold a fundraiser, Mab considered it but ultimately decided to perform extra shows because she didn’t feel comfortable being the subject of a fundraiser.

Last April, however, Mab decided to raise money for other artists, and that’s how the original Pastie Aid was born.

“Because it was kind of a rushed affair the first time, when we booked the stage we had to come up with a name for the show. Something like Pastie Aid and the palace – the Red Palace – really liked the name so they used that,” Mab said.

With the money raised at the event, Pastie Aid was able to save two local artists from eviction. The organization later used money saved from the event to help pay off some of the medical costs of Jelly Boy – a clown who was burned in a New York apartment in July.

Mab renamed the organization about a month ago because “pasties are a burlesque thing” and she considers herself a variety artist.

“I wanted it to be a big, inclusive, tight community that all variety artists felt like could have access to this fund. That would be magicians, that would be music acts, acrobats, jugglers, fire eaters…a variety entertainment umbrella,” she said.

The event raised just under $2,000 through the $15 cover as well as donations and money from auctioned-off photos of performers and a handmade jacket, while the event in April raised about $2,865. In the future, Mab hopes the organization can raise $15,000 to help the organization’s seed fund, hoping to eventually turn the fund over to a professional fund management company.

With more than 15 performers taking the stage, the Red Palace was host to sideshow performers like Swami Yomahmi and burlesque performers like Tittie Roosevelt, a friend of Mab’s who got into performing over the summer.

“It’s a great cause. Pastie Aid was a lot of fun in April and raised a lot of money and helps a lot of people out…there’s something really fun about that it’s not just a great cause but also getting a performance from so many of D.C.’s finest variety performers in one night,” Roosevelt said.

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