Aspen Reign and Keira Reiley went to new artistic heights to secure their top finishes at the 2008 Penthouse Gold G-String Awards.
Somewhere, Hailey Heart’s former fiancé is probably weeping. Just weeks after calling off her walk down the aisle, Heart strutted onstage at the New Orleans Penthouse Club’s eighth annual Penthouse Gold G-String Awards, the nation’s premier contest for exotic dancers. The chopped-down wedding dress she was sporting showcased all that her ex was missing. “I had this big ol’ fancy wedding dress, but that didn’t work out,” Heart said backstage, fortifying herself with a redheaded slut—a shot of pink schnapps, cranberry juice, and Jagermeister. “So I tore that dress up into a ‘November Rain’–like dress and went from there. When I first did it, I wanted him to see the pictures and be like, ‘That was the dress!’ ”
The weekend after Mardi Gras is typically slow for gentlemen’s clubs in New Orleans, but the Gold G-String Awards at the Penthouse Club were standing room only—again. “When everybody quits partying after Mardi Gras, we’re ready to go,” said Schevelle, a featured dancer. “It’s like, ‘Wake up! Don’t be going to bed, guys. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.’ ”
Invited showgirls compete for the coveted jeweled G-string, medals, and bragging rights. “This is probably the best contest out there right now,” said Aspen Reign, a perennial favorite. “Penthouse is a great name to put on your résumé.”
Mark Allen, operating partner of the New Orleans Penthouse Club and founder of the Gold G-String Awards, credits Aspen with inspiring a new generation of showgirls. “What burlesque once was, Aspen is,” Allen said. “Aspen is the epitome of what our business is about.”
For this year’s festivities, Reign reprised her “Rock Me Amadeus” Marie Antoinette show. While lit by strobe lights and a rack of votive candles, she shed an elaborate turquoise-andsilver ball gown, wig, and mask. She writhed to Buckcherry’s “Crazy Bitch,” then lathered herself up in a giant champagne glass, gleefully slinging suds across the tables. “We’ve all gotten along really well,” she told us about her fellow competitors. “It’s stiff competition—better than last year. All the girls are putting on great shows, which I like. I’d rather go to a competition where the girls are making an effort.”
The 2008 cirque du soiree set a new standard for athleticism and creativity. Three of the other contestants were back from 2007 as well. Keira Reiley described her ’07 cheerleader routine as “real peppy and fun,” then added, “This year, I wanted to bring my sex appeal.”
She did. During an elaborate James Bond–inspired show, she balanced on an aerial hoop and rappelled out of sight. “It’s a lot of work, as you can tell,” Keira said afterward, showing off her bruised shins. “It’s a challenge to get up there, hang upside down, and not kill yourself.”
Judges awarded Aspen the overall gold medal and Keira the silver, a repeat of their one-two finish at the Miss Nude World competition in December. “I just want to cry from joy!” Keira said. “I can’t believe it. Again, it’s us two at the end.”
These are a few of our other favorite moments: Schevelle was introduced with a recording of Scarface antihero Tony Montana, then strutted onto the stage with a toy Tommy gun, a purple zoot suit, and a killer body. She disposed of a “body” wrapped in a rug before revealing her purple G-string. “My inspiration is tough guys,” she told us. “It’s a combination of training and street dancing.”
Schevelle also had a few words of advice for aspiring dancers: “If you want to do well in a contest, you’ve got to take care of yourself and work out. I perform these shows throughout the year across the country, so by the time the contest comes, I usually have an idea of my top three or four shows. I throw those out there and have as much fun with it as I can.”
Shay Lynn donned a black-and-red top hat, bustier, and fishnet stockings in a cabaret salute toMoulin Rouge. Then, while perched upside down in a spectator’s lap, she wrapped her thighs around his head. “The place was packed, and when they enjoy, you enjoy it,” she said. “This was only my third competition. I’m very new at this. But I like it. I love it, actually.”
Newcomer Pason drew on years of formal ballet training. She performeden pointe—balanced on the tips of her toes—in a pink tutu. She initially wore her hair up like a proper ballerina, then let it fly to System of a Down. “I want to combine the very artistic and technical with the very sexy and erotic,” she told us. “I like being known for being different. I have fun, and I get to play and come up with things and keep tweaking them until it’s where I want it. I like having creative control.”
Pason also explained why she prefers exotic dancing to ballet: “You actually get to have interaction with the audience. If you’re just playing a character in a [ballet] company, you’re in your character. Are you going to narrate and look toward the camera? Usually not. It’s fun to be able to play with the crowd and feed off them. It helps you become a better performer, because you figure out what works.”
Rachelle Laree, who had five monkey tattoos across her lower back, trotted out in a monkey costume to music from The Jungle Book. Then she walked on her hands, stood on her head, and dropped to pop the worm. After, she prepared a banana split like you’ve never seen. She smeared vanilla ice cream, caramel syrup, and whipped cream on herself, then deep-throated a banana.
The idea was, as she put it, “to evolve from a funny, spastic, breakdancing monkey into whipped cream and ice cream, then take a sexy shower in my monkey barrel.”
Rachelle summed up her excitement at being at the awards thusly: “I have such a passion for entertaining. It’s my art. When I’m happy, I want to dance.”
Rachelle was beyond happy when her chimp act won the overall bronze. “I’m so honored and grateful to even be here,” she said. “I’m in shock.”
So was everyone watching.