Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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June 2011

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The Viper Vixens – Las Vegas

(c) Stephen Thorburn

On Friday night, John and I went to the Viper Vixens show at O’Shea’s on the Strip. It’s billed as “burlesque ninjas” and I’d heard about it from a friend of mine the previous week. When we scored tickets, I was thrilled.

The short summary: beautiful women dancing with weapons and taking their clothes off. Also, one guy. Who is also quite built. Really, though, the women are the well-deserved focus of the show.

There are five female performers: Sidewinder, Cottonmouth, Black Mamba, Diamondback, Copperhead, and one male: King Cobra. Each woman performs solo (or featured) with her weapon of choice: Sidewinder’s is a cowgirl-with-a-whip show, Cottonmouth uses a bladed fan, Diamondback is a staff wielder (and pole dancer!), Copperhead uses sai, Black Mamba is a crossbow gal, and King Cobra mainly performs crossbow tricks with Black Mamba.

Cottonmouth is a phenomenal singer and performer– throughout the show, she sings the rock songs that the dancers perform to, and her voice and energy are top-notch. Cottonmouth is unusual in that she doesn’t show her bare chest in the show, though she certainly gives some nice, alluring half-peeks. I’m not as entranced by her weapon performance– I think if you’re going to use “steel fan” as your weapon trick, you might as well go big and turn it into a Vegas-style “big fan dance” with a twist. This also would have gone really well with her “peekaboo” style of performance.

Diamondback is the “staff expert.” There wasn’t much in her performance that any high school flag corps performer wouldn’t do…. until she gets to “the big staff.” As in: the pole. Oh, yes. Diamondback is a pole dancer, and a good one. I love pole dancing to begin with, and she did a marvelous job of showing off the strength and acrobatics needed to work in this particular medium (geek note: pole dancing originated in circuses, not strip clubs).

California girl Sidewinder is the only blonde in the troupe (not that it matters), but her lighter looks gave her the only costuming break from the black-and-red that the rest of the dancers use. For her solo performance, she used a whip with what sounded like cheesy amplified whip-crack sounds (I don’t know– it just sounded off). But, oh my– she did a cowgirl-esque performance that was just gorgeous. Tip: sit in the second row of seats. The front center seats have been blocked off for stage use, and the dancers use it! Nothing quite like having a whip-wielding blonde grind in front of you to get your attention on a Friday night!

Black Mamba and King Cobra perform together using crossbow tricks, and their “solo” was a wedding recreation/balloon-popping deal. Quite fun and cute. These two performers had a lot of chemistry on stage that obviously stems from being newlyweds in real life. Although he’s well-built, King Cobra keeps the striptease focus on the women, and plays more comic relief in that part of his performance (stripping down at one point to reveal bullseye-printed boxer shorts!)

I have to say, my favorite performer was Copperhead because throughout her performance, her moves were precise and well-executed, and she had this kind of eternal smirk on her face that I just adored, and this was true not just in her solo, but also in every ensemble performance she did. Her solo performance was her sai, which was interesting… And her “shedding skin” part of her strip performance was so appropriate, I think I may have laughed out loud. But neither was as interesting as the second half of her solo, when she hopped up onto a suspended ring to do acrobatic tricks on the ring. Very beautiful work.

Tickets are $49.50 per person (a bit pricey for a burlesque in a non-headline casino, but worth it for a unique, highly geek-friendly show). Since they just opened, they’re doing a lot of promotions through their Facebook page and through And if you’re in town and want to go, drop me a comment here. I have a discount coupon for $20 off two tickets and I’ll gladly pass it along to the first commenter who isn’t a spambot.

Photo: © Stephen Thorburn.

Free RPG Day was a Hit

This year, I organized the 4th Edition D&D games for Free RPG Day at my local comic book shop, Avatar Comics and Games.FreeRPGDay

It was a huge hit. We decided to run the current season of D&D Encounters, through session #6 (the most recent session played until then). That meant about 6 hours of 4th edition, but I planned two “relief DMs” to come in and help out, and I figured it would be a lot like last year, when I showed up to help and wound up playing all day because we didn’t have enough players.

Well, not so this year. Apparently, the last year of studiously working my Summon Player ritual has paid off. I think we had about 20 gamers come play the encounters. Some are old friends– the gal waving hello in this picture is from my old game group in California– she and her husband (our DM) and daughter (future gamer!) happened to be in town and she stopped by to play.

Most of the gamers we had are new to the game or 4th edition. We had a few who already played in our Wednesday Encounters group, including some who were there to get the first sessions which they had missed. And some were brand new to the game or had only come for freebies and stayed for the fun.

I highly recommend, especially if you’re using Encounters as a way to get people to come play, to have a “catch up session” mid-season. This lets some of your walk-ins bring their new character and get the XP for playing the previous sessions. It also lets people who had a character they don’t really like try the campaign out with someone new.

For one of the encounters, we had just enough players that I decided to split the table in two. My friend Mike took one table, and I took the other– we had 3 players on Mike’s and 4 on mine. It was a minor disaster. Both parties ended in a TPK– whoops! It’s a tough encounter to begin with, probably the toughest in the campaign so far. When we played it in our regular encounters group, the DM had massively softballed the encounter in response to player lobbies (we were worried about one of the kid players losing her PC).

One of our Wednesday players who came to play also won a pack of 4th edition D&D stuff, all of which he can happily use in the Encounters games and beyond!

For the shop, it was a great day. In addition to our 4th edition table(s), they had Pathfinder, Dresden Files, Castle Ravenloft, and I even saw a miniatures game going on in the front corner. They did brisk sales all day, massively outpacing last year’s sales for the same event.

Oh, and I picked up a few fun games while I was there, including a D&D accessory and a quick-start for a zombie game! Overall, a massively fun game day, and well worth giving up my Saturday.

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