It’s now about 12:30 a.m. Around two hours ago, I was in a bowling alley in Asbury Park, N.J. watching a self-proclaimed “Nice Jewish Girl Gone Bad” take most of her clothes off, toss a pack of bacon into the crowd that had just finished being rubbed suggestively on her ass, and then take off a final layer of clothing, only to reveal her boobs, which were covered in nothing but pasties with more strips of bacon dangling from them.
My housemate Joey (also Jewish, currently vlogging and tweeting for Elan Magazine about his ongoing experience practicing Ramadan this month) is a Jersey local. The closest thing to a synagogue in Joey’s life, as far as I can tell, is Asbury Lanes, a combination bar/bowling alley/punk music venue. When Joey told me the other night that there was going to be an event at The Lanes called “Nice Jewish Girls Gone Bad,” I was certain we had to go.
So we went. It was a rough crowd, I have to say. The house was far from packed and the crowd was, shall we say, D.O.A., a fact which stand-up comedian and ringleader Susannah “Goddess” Perlman couldn’t help but continually ream us for. Unfortunately, most jokes about the crowd took the form of insults directed at the state of New Jersey, something most of us didn’t totally appreciate.
The act promised burlesque, but delivered more stand-up and musical comedy than anything else. There was some burlesque (aforementioned bacon included), but most was so over-the-top absurd that I had a hard time getting interested in those parts of the show. And for a heterosexual male college student, I think that says a lot. One act began with a few lines from Fiddler on the Roof, but quickly devolved into two girls dancing around the stage, slowly taking off Ultra-Orthodox man costumes. Another featured the girls dancing to a song called something like “Eat my Hamentashen,” the preamble to which explained that hamentashen look kind of like vaginas. Thanks for that, ladies.
This Jewish mother’s horrific nightmare was conceived of by Perlman seven years ago as a one-time event for edgier-than-thou publication Heeb Magazine. (Of course). They’re currently on tour, performing pretty much every night for the next couple of weeks.
My overall impression was that there was a sort of over-reaching, but then not really reaching that far at work here. The humor was basically the type of humor that relies on the fact that Yiddish sounds funny and repeating Grandpa’s jokes, like “They tried to kill us! We survived! Let’s eat!” The humor didn’t get any farther than the kind that gets spat out by counselors at Jewish summer camps while they attempt to emcee an all-camp talent show. The major difference here being that Goddess Perlman curses like it’s nobody’s business while girls dance around behind her and show off their nice Jewish boobs.
Perlman kept talking about how their big goal was to break stereotypes. Aside from the boobs and the jokes about how Jewish girls have DSL (dick-sucking lips, for those who haven’t had the opportunity to stand around a keg drinking from a solo cup recently), no stereotypes were broken. Rather, they were reinforced. And, anyway, I spent my high school years in NFTY, where stereotypes about Jewish girls and their DSL abound. The girls were all light-skinned, dark-haired and as Ashkenazi as they come. Jokes were essentially updates of Borscht Belt Humor and I couldn’t help but think about how they were all doing the most stereotypical thing possible at ever turn. They just happened to do it with their shirts off.
But, hey, Perlman told me she’s been at this for seven years and I’m looking at their website and it says they perform all the time and some of them have been MTV and Comedy Central. Maybe it was just the crowd. I’d like to see them again sometime, to find out if a better crowd helps.
I did definitely enjoy myself and, if nothing else, I can confidently say that was the most bizarre Motzei Shabbat of my life.