Phoenix's gay burlesque troupe's starring at a mega-lesbian-fest beside the ladies' pro golf championship. Could fortune and fame be next?

For now, Pulliam is the only one who makes a sustainable living out of the project. Her dancers all have day jobs or activities. Skylar is a server at a local restaurant, Devin studies business at ASU, India is learning to be a personal trainer and Gemini works at a mortgage company. But none of the women is averse to dancing topless at local strip clubs from time to time.

They are, however, concerned with being labeled as mere strippers. "We're much more than that," Devin says, "and that's not at all what we do in our show. With [stripping], we can work when we want to, go in and dance and make some money." It leaves their schedules open for rehearsals, school Ė and Gogos gigs.

Kevin Scanlon
From crackhead to dedicated burlesque promoter: Angela Pulliam.
Kevin Scanlon
From crackhead to dedicated burlesque promoter: Angela Pulliam.

It's Friday night at the Amazons topless club on Seventh Street. India and Devin are in the dressing room getting ready to go onstage. Female patrons, and there are a scattering, must walk through the area to use the rest room, a path so narrow that one nubile stripper bending over to strap on a stiletto can block the entire pathway with her ass.

It's a seedy place at first glance. The lockers are dented and covered in stickers. Scuffed patent leather platforms and discarded, orphaned thongs lie here and there. But despite the run-down appearance of the club's inner sanctum, the women are friendly, the clientele are low-key and the drinks are reasonably priced. It has a neighborhood feel, not unlike Applebee's.

"Don't mind the titties, honey," a stripper says, as a timid customer squeezes past her breasts to the rest-room stall. Meanwhile, India slips into a white string bikini top and thong, gold knee-high go-go boots, and a diaphanous white chiffon coat. Out onstage, under the black lights, the glowing garments contrast with her toasted almond skin as she sheds them slowly. Devin is there, too, in a black thong and orange mesh top that reveals her pierced belly button and nipples. Her hair is blond and curly; she looks like a very naughty 16-year-old cheerleader as she grips the pole between her thighs and swings wildly around it.

Pulliam, Gemini and Skylar show up as patrons and commandeer a large booth in the corner. They applaud their friends loudly. The performers step off the stage, and India gives a lap dance to a woman in the far corner, while a middle-aged man quickly engages Devin. They seem encouraged by the presence of their friends, and, between dances, stop by to hug hello.

The contrast between Lezbosagogo here and in their burlesque gig is marked. At Amazons, mostly men congregate to watch nude women, yet spend considerable effort to affect a nonchalant indifference to the naked bodies writhing around them. Some of the dancers look amazingly bored as they hang upside down from the pole and finger their thongs while some of the men look past them to the basketball game on the big-screen TV.

"The difference between stripping and burlesque is the difference between work and play," sighs Jo Weldon, also a former stripper. "Stripping is about money. Burlesque is about performing your sexuality, not selling it."

Lezbosagogo's members agree, only they hope to make lots of money from their brand of burlesque so they can leave lap dancing behind.

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