Photos, video and story by Michael Antonio Castaneda
One of the finest qualities about Philadelphia is its lust for entertainment from great artists. Every Third Friday of the month at Franky Bradley’s, located at 1320 Chancellor St., you can find yourself having a very fine dinner and an even more amazing show. Lil’ Steph, a burlesque dancer in Philly, hosts one of the finest in the city.
Having never been to an event like this, being there for the Rasputin’s Room third year anniversary was a true treat. The show featured Alyson Rodriguez Orenstein, Sophie Sucre, Ruby Von Vanity, Minx Arcana and Lil’ Steph.
Lil’ Steph began performing burlesque in 2006 and has been hosting and producing burlesque shows in the city for over six years. She has also travelled the world dancing. She has performed in Philly, New York City, D.C., Charleston, Boston, Las Vegas, San Francisco, L.A. and she has been to Italy, Germany, Amsterdam and France saying, “I’ve performed at a lot of red light districts, which is Great!” Lil’ Steph was also featured in the Queen Calavera calendar for 2016, which you can purchase for around $16.
Each performance at the Rasputin Room will be different and will have different dancers, so going every month will be a great experience every time! This show will tease your heart, leaving it throbbing and wanting more. The doors open at 7 p.m., and the show starts at 8 p.m.
The kitchen at Franky Bradley’s is open until midnight on Fridays. They have a range of food from Mac & Cheese with three cheese sauce, braised ham hocks oven dried tomatoes and garlic bread crumbs. While there, I had the pleasure of starting with their Grilled Flatbread, sundried tomato pesto, fresh mozzarella and torn basil. It was a nice appetizer which could feed two. I also had the Franky’s Burger with Muenster cheese, shredded lettuce, grilled red onion, pickles, comeback sauce and Martin’s potato rill. They have pasta, soups, sandwiches and entrees, as well.
Help yourself to the many drinks from Franky’s Punch with Sailor Jerry Rum, pear puree, white wine and vanilla-cardamom simple, to their drafts like Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA, Sly Fox and many others. After the dinner and the show, there is a DJ and a dance floor to keep the party going. Enjoy dinner, drinks and a wonderful night with great entertainment.
Another View: Rasputin Room Offers Strip Tease at its Best
Photos, story by Lou Perri
When this old guy was asked to cover a burlesque show, he thought, “Why not?”
He recalled the Trocadero theatre at 10th and Race Streets in Philadelphia where burlesque was king back in the ’50’s. Then, a little guy who called himself “cheese and crackers Hagen,” was part of the burlesque shows featured there.
A Daily News obit noted: “Billy “Cheese ‘n’ Crackers” Hagan, one of burlesque’s leading comedians in the 1920s and ’30s, died Tuesday in Carmichael, Calif. He was 97.
“Hagan, whose real name was William Hagedorn, was the original baggy-pants comedian whose oversize trousers were rigged to go up and down. He was a regular in burlesque in Philadelphia for 50 years.”
While Billy Hagen’s job was to make the audience laugh, he also introduced all strptease artists on the bill.
Today, the emcee for Rasputin’s Room, featured the third Thursday of the month at a famous Philadelphia restaurant Frankie Bradley’s, is a “satirical siren,” said Allyson Rodriguez Orenstein, who offers a few jokes and sings witty lyrics to songs like “Under the Boardwalk”.
She’s no “Cheese and Crackers Hagen”, but hosting and singing some clever original parodies is an eye-pleasing way to introduce the dancers in Lil Steph’s Rasputin ‘s Room burlesque show.
The show starts off with Mika Romantic, a Philadelphia area lass whose mother was in the audience snapping images of her daughter. Mika (stage name, of course, is an international multi award-winning burlesque performer and pin-up model from a sleepy little hamlet in Eastern Pennsylvania. Mika made her triumphant Burlesque debut in New York City of Spring 2012.
Romantic has performed in some of the hottest festivals and venues in the world, including the 19th Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender and the 9th annual London Burlesque Festival. She performed at the Great Burlesque Expo in Cambridge, MA where she was awarded “Most Classic” and “Bella Blue’s, “Judges Choice” in 2015. Named one of the Hottest Burlesque Acts to follow by GQ Magazine and is currently the 2015 World Champion of the Burlypicks Competition. Mika is the Artistic Director and co-founder of the burlesque troupe, “The Looking Glass Revue”. The Troupe is a classic Burlesque group that has entertained at venues such as the Hard Rock Cafe and exclusive celebrity Lounges during the Sundance Film Festival. As a Pin-Up/Alternative Model, she has been featured in such publications as: “Retro Lovely”, “Vintage Boudoir Magazine”, “Kat Club Magazine” “We Rise Magazine” “Renegade” and others.
Rasputin’s Room featured other exotic strip teasers including Nina La Voix a burlesque performer and producer based out of Brooklyn, New York.
In her bio, Nina’s “performance style is hard-hitting yet strikingly sensual. With a heavy classic and street dance background, Nina’s style often blends the classic structures of burlesque with modern/neo twist.”
She has been seen in multiple burlesque festivals, including The New Orleans Burlesque Festival, Fierce! International Burlesque Festival, and The Great Burlesque Exposition in Boston, where she took home the title for Best Soloist. In addition, you can see her on stage regularly at The Slipper Room, Nurse Bettie in New York City. Nina is also an MC and host, certified fitness professional, model, and vocalist.
A fourth dancer, also an exceptional one, is Renée Rebelle who began her career as a classically trained ballet dancer from University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She performed in works choreographed by Brian Sanders, Christine Cox, and in restagings that include “La Fille Mal Gardée” and “Napoli”.
She performed with the contemporary ballet company DanceSpora, led by Heidi Cruz-Austin. Mz. Rebelle’s theatrical training led her to the world of cabaret. She began her burlesque career with Cabaret Red Light.
She’s performed with The Cabaret Administration in productions directed by Anna Frangiosa and choreographed by Christine Fisler. Rebelle has performed at Painted Bride Arts Center, Ruba Club, L’Etage, The Adrienne, Plays and Players Theatre, and Rasputin’s Room.
Lil’ Steph is an international showgirl and Philadelphia burlesque producer. She has been producing burlesque shows in Philly for over 6 years. Lil’ Steph is producer of the monthly show, Rasputin’s Room now in it’s 4th year. Lil’ Steph began performing burlesque in 2006 and since then she has performed on countless stages across the country in NYC, New Orleans, San Francisco and LA to name a few. She has performed in numerous festivals, among them The Burlesque Hall of Fame, The New York Burlesque Festival,The Caput Mundi International Showcase, World Burlesque Games and won “Most Classic” at the Carolina Burlesque Festival in 2013. Lil’ Steph has performed in 7 countries, in cities including Paris, Rome, and London, performing at world famous venues like Queen Calavera in Hamburg, Paleis van de Weemoed in Amsterdam and with Prague Burlesque at the Royal Theatre. In 2016 she was featured in the Queen Calavera calendar with top notch burlesque performers from around the world.
She is an exceptional strip tease dancer and does an exciting fan dance to end an evening of burlesque dancing upstairs at Frankie Bradley’s, featuring a small stage with several tables and a bar which serves a variety of drinks. Lil Steph’s Rasputin’s Room burlesque show features an exciting groupof strip tease artists from the East Coast.
So Lil Steph has selected some of the best strip tease artists along the East Coast to create Rasputin’s Room Upstairs at Frankie Bradley’s, and you can also enjoy a wonderful dinner in the restaurant on Chancellor Street in downtown Philadelphia.
According to a website, “The transition from burlesque on the old lines to striptease was gradual. At first, soubrettes showed off their figures while singing and dancing; some were less active but compensated by appearing in elaborate stage costumes.”