Baltimore natives Beatrix Burneston and Adam Krandle are better known as their stage personas, Trixie Little and the Evil Hate Monkey. They perform live – usually scantily clad – while displaying different ideas of burlesque. As expected from burlesque performances, their show is made up of risqué humour and naughty choreography. Their innovation stems from breathtaking acrobatics that add a daring element to their otherwise innocuous entertainment.
Filmmaker Kirsten D’Andrea Hollander turned her camera on the duo and followed their careers for seven years in order to make her documentary Us, Naked: Trixie & Monkey. Adapting to the artists’ avant-garde nature, Hollander’s documentary is narrative-less, allowing the camera to roll during rehearsals, performances, and creative disputes in hopes that the chemistry and integrity displayed by Burneston and Krandle will shape the film.
This type of filmmaking has its time and place. Just last year, movie goers witnessed Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s political doc Weiner which showed how unfolding controversies elaborated on Anthony Weiner’s failing fate. Us, Naked: Trixie & Monkey is more comparable to Michael Jackson’s This Is It since both films shed an exclusive light on the behind-the-scenes development of music and dance. However, they also restrict themselves from fully opening up.
While Hollander’s doc successfully captures the gruelling compromises and stubbornness of an artist as well as the provocative atmosphere of the Trixie and Evil Monkey show, the film lacks other personal touches – Us, Naked would be an ironic title if it didn’t refer to the most literal aspect of the stage act. Details of Burneston and Krandle’s life are intermittently told by Murray Hill, a vague performer with the stature and charisma of a circus ringleader. When Hill isn’t seen or heard, movie goers receive limited insight before moving on, including fleeting clips with family. Apparently, the show really must go on.
There’s an audience for Us, Naked: Trixie & Monkey made up of theatre performers, enthusiastic artists, and others simply interested in off-Broadway peculiarities. It helps to have a connection with performance art to find enjoyment in Kirsten D’Andrea Hollander’s showy doc.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie