A benefit with G-strings and pasties?
That's right. Chicago Takes Off is gearing up to... well, take it all off. The sure-to-be-sexy February event to benefit Test Positive Aware Network ( TPAN ) is quickly approaching.
The idea behind Chicago premiere of Chicago Takes Off—a sexy strip tease, burlesque-style revue—has been brewing for a number of years in the minds of Dance for Life co-founder Keith Elliott and TPAN's Danny Kopelson. And yes, the hit annual event Broadway Bares, a benefit that sponsors Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, definitely served as inspiration.
'Keith and I always joked that we wanted to do something sexy, like Dance for Life Naked,' Kopelson said with a laugh.
Galas and your usual run-of-the-mill benefits are great and bring in the bucks, but really hard; TPAN is always searching and brainstorming for new and exciting ways to raise funds for HIV/AIDS education. Chicago Takes Off, produced and directed by Dance for Life founders Elliot and Todd Kiech, seemed like a perfect fit.
Professional dancers and members of the fitness and training communities will bare nearly all in the steamy show. There will be around 50 performers, both men and women, so everybody gets a little bit of what they want.
'Yes, it's a strip show, but it's really a musical revue,' Kopelson added. Sure, the common theme is that people strip, but choreographers have come together to create about 15 numbers that involve 50 cast members.
'We are taking everybody on a fantasy flight,' Kopelson said, adding that the performance will most likely include a 'Mile High Club' dance that sounds deliciously naughty. 'It's a little tongue-in-cheek. We're here to have fun.'
The event doesn't just stop after the skin-showing hoopla is over. The end of the night will feature rotation, where the audience has a chance to tip performers. Afterwards, the audience will be invited to meet the dancers and continue to party and mingle.
Chicago Takes Off will be so hot that the post office deemed the postcard invitations for the event 'lewd and obscene,' forcing organizers to put them in envelopes. 'We're probably the only HIV event in Chicago that's been rejected by the post office,' Kopelson joked.
The benefit will also be very candid, because, as Kopelson and the rest of his sex-positive TPAN crew believe, 'Sex is a good thing.'
A tremendous committee has been formed to bring all of the artists within the community together. People who have been involved in events ongoing and defunct are coming together to put on this fabulous feature. 'It's really got an interesting group. They really know what they are doing,' Kopelson said.
The current target audience is the GLBT community, but Kopelson hopes that the event will eventually branch out to other communities. After all, nudity unites. Also, TPAN hopes Chicago Takes Off will become a delicious way to celebrate Valentine's Day.
Creative ideas are already floating around for next year. But in the meantime, TPAN just hopes this year takes off. 'Hopefully, we have created an event that will work and succeed,' Kopelson said. 'We're just bringing people together to have a really good time and raise money for a really good organization.'
If you can't wait, check out the upcoming preview and the next Big Gay Cocktail Club. Also, within the week, TPAN will put up an online 'strip-a-thon' on its Web site, where people can sponsor their favorite dancer.
Chicago Takes Off premieres at the Park West on Feb. 10. For tickets, which range from $50-$300, call 773-798-9400 or visit tpan.com .