Admit it. You’re curious.
If you’re not turned on by the feel, shine and snug (really, really snug) fit of latex against the supple curves of a woman, then you’re at least curious to know how anybody manages to squeeze themselves into a full body catsuit. Add heels so high your run-of-the-mill stripper would cringe, mix in dance and performance art by seasoned Strip performers, and you’ll find yourself past curiosity. This is full-on captivation – also known as Girls in Rubber.
Billed as Sin City’s only fetish dance troupe, Girls in Rubber is a latex-clad group of 12 to 20 performers exploring sexual boundaries, even when (or perhaps especially when) bound by chains and hanging from the ceiling. Contrary to its name, Girls in Rubber actually includes performers from both sexes. Creator John Miller explains the troupe began in 2003 as his vision of a post-modern showgirl. It was originally all female but expanded to include men. However, the original name stuck with the group, perhaps because Boys in Rubber has a completely different connotation. OK, slightly different.
Not surprisingly, the troupe books a lot of sci-fi conventions. More unusual, Miller says, is the fact that the group conducts plenty of business within the vanilla world of corporate events. Turns out, men wearing suits love the novelty of mingling with seductive woman wearing bright red, rubber unitards at cocktail parties. Go figure.
This Halloween, Girls (ahem, and Boys) in Rubber will be headlining the 14th annual Fetish and Fantasy Ball, held at the Joint inside the Hard Rock. It will be the troupe’s second performance at the ball, having performed at the infamous Halloween bash six years ago.
The troupe consists completely of professional dancers, many from mainstream dance crew Lost Vega* Crew, while others are seasoned Cirque du Soleil performers currently working on the Strip. Miller says the characters they play at F&F are the dark, alter egos for many of the performers.
Performer Christi Fiara agrees.
The dancer says she had little insight into BDSM subculture before becoming a Girl in Rubber, and that’s true of most of the dance troupe. “As performers, we were interested in the costume side of things – corsets, shoes,” she says. “I was learning about (the subculture as a whole) along with everyone else.” Through the show, Fiara says she’s learned about the development of corsets and gained insight into the empowerment of being submissive.
The full Girls in Rubber show, performed as a one-off event at Krave years ago, includes a plotline with beginning, middle and end. The F&F performances will lack that continuity, Miller warns, but will still impress.
“(The audience) will be dazzled by the costumes and surprised by the talent,” he says. “It’s for that off-beat crowd that hungers for something different and sexy. It’s a subculture. Hopefully, we’ll help bring it mainstream.”
Miller hopes the F&F performance might help Girls in Rubber set up permanent shop in the Vegas entertainment scene. Since Fashionistas closed early last year, a void has existed for envelope-pushing shows. “This is an adult, mature, erotic show,” he says. “Some of the existing shows are just copies of one another. We’re edgy enough to compete with Zumanity.”
He adds, “It takes the right one or two people to see the show.”
Fiara agrees and believes Saturday’s performance will aid the troupe in eventually finding a permanent home. “I have no doubt this will lead to something,” she says. But even if it doesn’t, the performer says she’s simply excited about participating in one of Vegas’ largest Halloween events.
Miller says audiences can expect professional staging and lighting in the best venue F&F has had in its 14-year existence. They can also expect edgy choreography by Jonnis Tannis, a former So You Think You Can Dance finalist from Season 1 who’s worked on numbers for Vegas shows Bite and Legends in Concert.
One thing that audiences shouldn’t expect: Mariah Carey-esque rapid costume changes. Latex looks and feels like a second skin. You can’t simply jump into costume and run on stage. You have to slither into it, Fiara says. Often, performers use powders and gels to comfortably get into the costumes.
“It’s definitely a challenge,” she says. “There are no quick costume changes here.”
Despite the effort it takes to put on, Fiara says wearing the fetish gear is undeniably sexy. “(Latex) pulls everything up a bit,” she says. “It’s kind of like a corset, actually.”
Adding (and removing) layers of lingerie over the full-body suits and latex underwear help spice up the costumes for the performers. Props and heels help, too. Then, there’s the fact that the dancers are moving seductively and sometimes doing performances while suspended by double hammocks and chains from the ceiling.
Fiara finds describing the show as a whole difficult. She tries. “It’s an experience.”