Hot & Heavy Burlesque tribute to Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”

By Sophia Coleman

“Hey You” Floydians out there, prepare to witness an “In the Flesh” tribute to one of Pink Floyd’s greatest albums.

In a tribute to the rock opera based on the character Pink’s life experience, the themes of abandonment and personal isolation in Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” will be interpreted by the burlesque group Hot & Heavy at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.

Viva La Muerte, producer of the show, said the conventions of burlesque will be challenged with tough subject matter involving political undertones, anger and desperation. The show is inspired by the film written by Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters, as well as the band’s mind-blowing live performances.

“It’s not a typical burlesque show in the slightest,” Muerte said. “There’s no pauses in between the acts, no sparkly costumes, and not even a lot of stripping in the show. It’s death, anger and desperation.”

Muerte said she has always been drawn to metal and classic rock and wanted to incorporate it into her burlesque acts. Many people questioned her because they were skeptical that burlesque could be performed to those genres. Hot & Heavy’s first performance was in 2009 in what Muerte called “a heavy metal variety show.”

Muerte said she was first inspired to produce “The Wall” tribute by a suggestion from a friend while watching the original film. She had the urge to tell a story through a cohesive storyline arc instead of individual acts typical of a burlesque show. The troupe’s first tribute to “The Wall” began in 2010 at the Viaduct Theatre, 3111 N. Western Ave.

“We go along with the theme of ‘The Wall,’ [like] how Waters felt closed in and isolated [from] everything that was happening,” Muerte said. “[Within our show] you see the emotions of the album and Waters’ feelings during the time he

wrote it.”

She said the company gathered most of its inspiration from the graphic live shows in the ’80s, and they even build an actual wall during their performance. There are many visual ties between the performance and Pink Floyd’s concepts, with some of the most striking taking place during performer Donna Touch’s interpretation of “Goodbye Blue Sky,” where she dons red Isis wings and a gas mask similar to the eerily angelic figures in the film.

“I identify with the fear of war and the nightmare that is in this song,” Touch said. “The overall atmosphere during the show is really intense, dark and, to be perfectly honest, a little disturbing.”

Part of the excitement is produced by the show’s atmosphere and set design. Set designer Erik Pertl was given the task of building the bricks for the 8 foot by 10 foot wall that is one of the stage’s key visual elements.

For intermission, Pertl created an “old-fashioned” psychedelic light show reflecting what Pink Floyd did in the ’60s. He said the intermission is a nod to the “pre-Wall” days when Sid Barrett was part of the band.

“It’s a relatively independent interpretation,” Pertl said. “The performers are left to come up with their own ideas and interpretations of ‘The Wall’ to project the idea and mood of Pink Floyd’s lyrics.”

Paris Green, one of the performers, said a favorite of the show is the different point of view it takes on the classic Pink Floyd album. The film and original live performances are told through the viewpoint of a man, Pink. But in the burlesque show, the concepts of Pink Floyd are shown through female eyes.

“There’s some psychosis, relationship issues, alienation and dissociation; all those kinds of subjects [are] within ‘The Wall,’” Green said. “I think because it’s burlesque, it heightens and makes it [more] raw and graphic.”

One of Green’s acts involves suicide, but she said it didn’t stop her from wearing rhinestones and sequins all over her costume.

“We’re always going to throw some glitter on it because that’s just who we are,” she said.

Muerte said the production flows by playing the first disc of “The Wall,” continues through the light show, and concludes with the entire second disc of the album. She said after the show a couple of raffles will take place. One prize is a recreation of one of the masks seen in the original live performances of “The Wall.”

The other item is a custom mini top hat by a New York designer that is covered in miniature handmade bricks, feathers, a limo and a streetwalker.

“‘The Wall’ is a part of people’s lives in a way; it’s part of culture and is a very classic album,” Muerte said. “It’s something people really identify with. We want people to come away feeling affected or feeling nostalgia for the album.”

The tribute to “The Wall” begins Feb. 9 and ends Feb. 12 at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. Advance tickets are $17 and $22 at the door. Visit Hot & Heavy’s fanpage,, for a chance to win free tickets. for more information on upcoming shows.