Richard James Havis
What's going on around the globe
A striptease isn't the kind of thing you'd expect to see on the steps
of the Federal Hall National Memorial, the historic building that sits at the heart of New York's Wall Street financial centre. But that's just what happens in Whose Broad Stripes, a dance show that's being presented as part of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council's ongoing Sitelines series.
But the rightwing guardians of America's morality don't need to be unduly concerned. This is no ordinary striptease. There may be two showgirls dancing in front of the building, but the strip is performed by a flabby businessman. What's more, under his suit he's not naked - he's wearing a bizarre superhero outfit in Stars and Stripes.
The show is the brainchild of Lawrence Goldhuber, who's well known in New York for mixing dance, theatre and humour. A trained dancer - he lists avant-garde innovator Merce Cunningham as one of his influences - Goldhuber isn't too interested in the finer points of pirouettes. Instead, he has honed his skills down to one idea: make the audience laugh out loud.
Previous shows include When the World Feels Like Bacon and Julius Caesar Superstar, which danced its way from the bath- tubs of Ancient Rome to the McCarthyite Senate of 1950s. Whose Broad Stripes has it all - and in only 10 minutes, too. The show begins with musician Geoff Gersh, dressed as a Vietnam veteran and perched high up on the side of the hall, playing Jimi Hendrix's Star Spangled Banner. This screeching, almost note-perfect version accompanies two showgirls doing a fan dance down the steps. After teasing the audience for a few minutes, the music changes to Pink Floyd's Money, and the showgirls drag a rotund businessman out of the crowd and onto the steps.
The embarrassed man dances awkwardly with the showgirls before getting caught up in the moment and - horror of horrors - taking his clothes off. The man is Goldhuber, of course.
Goldhuber uses his giant mass to perform some odd dance manoeuvres before throwing wads of counterfeit US dollar bills into the audience. Some of the watching office workers clap; others rush to pick up the money.
Goldhuber says his permit for the show was temporarily revoked when Federal Hall bureaucrats got wind of the striptease. They said it was 'inappropriate' to have women stripping on the steps of a Federal memorial. When he said he was doing the strip himself, the permit was reinstated.