When Bad Is Oh-So Good

What can a group of gutsy amateur dancers show folks about burlesque? Good girls can strut their stuff, too.

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“Will they or won’t they?” Back in the 1800s, a burlesque show was expected to caricature the more serious aspects of life, to yuk it up. But in modern times, it’s all about stripping down. A group of hard-working Las Vegas gals is making sure there’s no way in hell you or anyone else will chuckle as they do their seductive striptease. And without a professional dancer among them, they’re not what you’d expect.

Good Girls Gone Bad is a troupe of women whose daytime work lands them in all corners of Las Vegas’ entertainment industry—event promoters, cocktail waitresses, public relations managers, models—and who perform choreographed sets at nightclubs, tackling something they weren’t sure they could do, but were willing to try.

“You’re never too old, and it’s never too late to do something you’re passionate about. And a lot of us are moms and have day and night jobs,” says Kalika Moquin, founding member by night, and by day a partner at JackColton.com and at the DJ management company Blackout Artists. “This was a great opportunity to step outside the box and do something different. [And] who knows?” she adds. “Next year we may form a ski team.”
Moquin, 31, inadvertently created Good Girls Gone Bad following a client meeting with Gallery nightclub about tweaking its programming.

It was nearly a plain-old burlesque show of professional dancers until Moquin chimed in with a fresher concept: What if they threw girls onstage who were novices, but were well-known industry professionals who could pack a house with their contacts?

Moquin reached out to women she knew and ended up with a core six, although sometimes the ranks swell to as many as 14. The only prerequisites for joining was a fat Rolodex they could use to fill a performance space with friends and clients, and some semblance of a dance background, be it a high school cheerleading or ballet when they were 13. But what goes unspoken is that each good girl who pretends to go bad should also have a healthy dose of self-esteem and maybe a wee thirst for the limelight. It’s the latter that helps this nonprofessional group look anything but amateur.

“We’re all really outgoing, and we all have really big personalities,” says Jenna Abraham, 25, a cocktail server at the nightclub XS and model, with two young children. “I don’t think any of us has a shy bone in our bodies.”

But smart, hot, brave women alone do not a burlesque group make. They needed moves. So they hired Jennifer Romas of JRR Enterprises, a longtime Strip choreographer who runs the entertainment at Gallery. She also recently choreographed scenes for Think Like A Man 2 and is herself a dancer.

“They’re all super sexy and super talented. I’m honored to be working with these girls,” Romas says. Noting that rehearsals are sometimes challenging since she only works with pros, she praised the Good Girls Gone Bad ladies for having fun and looking great while doing it. “It’s not easy [to dance]. They come off as classy, sexy, beautiful girls … I’m so proud of them.”

In a practice before their most recent show at Gallery on July 15, the girls looked a lot more professional than their daytime titles suggest. Wearing dance warm-ups that make Flashdance’s Jennifer Beals seem like she rehearsed in a burka, the girls showed off their toned bods in crop tops, bras, short shorts and sparkly heels. Boas and giant feathers dotted the sidelines of their rehearsal space as Roma worked them through a vamped-up version of “Hey, Big Spender,” one of three numbers planned for that night.

The girls execute some 60-80 choreographed elements in a 3-minute song—shimmies, bumps-and-grinds, a teasing removal of a glove or stocking—all while actually dancing. If you don’t dance, cramming all that in your head and making it happen in heels can seem as impossible as a hockey player slapshooting a puck while skating backward. But like athletes, these girls make it look effortless. Well, mostly: Every now and then someone shimmies when they should’ve shook. “To be honest, this is very intricate. And these girls are killing it,” Romas says. “Yes, you girls are hot!” she hollers at them. “It’s all about the tease.”

So, what’s it like to striptease for friends and clients? “The last performance was my first, so I was really, really nervous,” Abraham says. “The costumes, the shoes, the lights, the spacing … then the curtain goes up,” she says. It can be a bit much. But clearly the nerves don’t show. “Some have said, ‘You’re better than the real Pussycat Dolls!” Moquin says.

And what about negative feedback for these daytime professionals getting down to pasties at night? Both say they haven’t heard a peep. “If they don’t like it …” a smiling Moquin says, choosing not to finish the sentiment. “Everyone who comes [to Good Girls Gone Bad] is going to see a good show. Everyone looks great up there.” She’s right.