Burlesque

Review: Not Just a Tit Show—Fly Honey Show Celebrates Body, Self, and Sex at Den Theatre

Photo by Anjali Pinto.

The Fly Honey Show is a vibrant reimagining of the classic cabaret in a safe space for less-heard voices to be themselves—loudly and sexily so. With over 300 all-volunteer rotating professional and nonprofessional dancers, singers, and entertainers, the performances celebrate identity and gender minorities and elevate women (cis and trans alike) to promote sex and body positivity. The Fly Honey Show is celebrating at the Den Theatre with their tenth season. The show is donating a portion of this year’s ticket sales to Ultraviolet, an advocacy organization for feminist cultural and political change.

Choreographer and creator/director Erin Kilmurray leads the rest of the Fly Honey Show’s creative team and cast in an annual extravaganza with a stunning three-hour performance, presented by The Inconvenience (a collaborative community of interdisciplinary artists).

Backed by a nine-piece live band, Kilmurray’s production highlights women, trans, non-binary, and lgbtqia individuals and allies with premiere performance acts from standups and storytelling—featuring one night only of Cherry Darling opening night—to Chicago’s first all-female mariachi band, the Mariachi Sirenas. The evening boasts a modern and interactive burlesque experience in which the performers have more ownership of their individual personas and the stories they want to tell. The collective “Hive” essentially flips audience member’s minds upside down, but in a way where they inevitably feel better and more empowered than when they initially enter the theater.

Photo by Anjali Pinto.

Three rowdy hosts welcome and celebrate “every body, no matter what body” to the Den Theatre’s 150-seat space. The host trifecta lays out a few ground rules prior to the performances, primarily revolving around respect and consent, and continue to frequent the stage as they hype up the crowd. Fully embodying the spirit of the Honeys, the hosts seemed to find a sticky spot to return to throughout the show during which their private parts tuned into a radio frequency and spoke/sang through their microphones to give their own performances. Despite the announcer’s jokes that may run a bit dry at times (that’s not a vagina joke), this show is good enough to return to twice in one season, especially given the rotating guest artists and performances. If you are looking for a fun night out that will uplift you rather than leaving you with regrets, look no further than the Fly Honey Show.

The space in which the celebration occurs is stunning in itself—the Den Theatre is decorated with a hexagonal arrangement, the stage is wooden and tiered and complete with steps and a runway—perfect for the Honeys to shake their bits all over. But do not make the mistake of thinking the performance is just a tit show. Yes, it is sexual chaos, but it is sophisticated. It is raw. It’s a celebration, and I would challenge you to try and find a space with more talent and individualized flair in one evening. Be prepared to recommit to loving yourself and every body.

See the Fly Honey Show at the Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave., at 10pm Thursday-Saturday through September 7. Tickets are on sale with tiered pricing, ranging from $22.50 to $100. For more info, call 773-609-2336 or check out the website.

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