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It’s got bump, grind and class

Special to The Times

The latest burlesque show to buzz clubland might be heavy on the booty-shaking, but it never crosses to the crass.

Maybe it’s the male dancers, or the live music from a six-piece jazz band, but Harlottique, the new Wednesday night revue at Pearl nightclub in West Hollywood, is more about cheeky fun than sinister sensuality.

In the tradition of the Toledo Show, Forty Deuce and the Pussycat Dolls, Harlottique offers a celebration of the female form. And with the manner in which the dance numbers showcase the beauty of the booty, you can’t help but smile.

“Those are the crowd-pleasing moments,” says AlexSandra Wright, the show’s creative director and executive producer.

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Harlottique -- a term Wright says is bastardized French for a dainty harlot -- doesn’t stop there. Choreographed by Philip Lightstone, the show mixes it up with powerful and often shirtless male dancers.

“I like the fact that it’s got a feeling of an old-style cabaret, it’s got some history,” says Steve Scarduzio, an L.A. club owner who caught a recent show. “And the male dancers are awesome. They really add to the whole experience.”

Although a work in progress with room to grow, Harlottique has big ambitions. The jazz band backs a male and female vocalist and the half-dozen dancers. Through songs ranging from Harry Connick Jr. originals to ditties made famous by Etta James, the show tells a story about what happens when a man loves a woman and vice versa.

“I really want to give people a different experience than anything else that’s out there,” Wright says. “So we carry a story through the entire show, and everyone comes out feeling something.”

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Mostly, happy. And that’s where the rump-shaking comes in. Although the dancers are outfitted in risque costumes, there is a definite innocence to all the bumping and grinding. Unlike say, Christina Aguilera’s “Dirty” video -- where you feel as if you might catch something just viewing it -- Harlottique has more fun with titillation than clobbering you with the obvious.

And each of the dancers gives their all. Like the talented Carolina from Forty Deuce, Harlottique’s breakout star is Sonia Iannetti, who shakes with unbridled joy.

“It’s my favorite style of dance,” says Iannetti. “I call it saucy jazz. I am really comfortable doing it. Once I’m up there, I forget everything around me.”

The fact that all the action happens in a small supper club with a runway surrounded by seats -- giving everyone an up-close and personal view -- makes the experience intimate and fun. Live jazz, blues and soul give the entire experience a speak-easy feel, and by the time the show’s blown by, usually in about 45 minutes, you’ll find yourself still tapping your toes.

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“You’re given a full show; you can have dinner or just drink,” says Danno Metoyer, a Harlottique regular. “I can bring my buddies or a significant other and still have a great time. I wouldn’t be afraid to bring my mother here.”

On Dec. 1, they launch their Christmas show, with the dancers performing such numbers as “Merry Christmas Baby” and “Santa Baby.”

“The show has truly been a labor of love, blood, sweat and tears,” says producer Rikki Hughes, Wright’s business partner. “People who come to the show comment that it has an East Coast feel, as if it’s full of culture that L.A. isn’t ready for. But I know L.A. is ready for a classy, entertaining show.”

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Harlottique

Where: Pearl, 665 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood

When: 8:30 (dinner show) and 10:30 p.m. (lounge show) Wednesdays. Closed Nov. 24.

Price: $20, cover; $6, valet. 21 and older.

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Contact: (310) 358-9191

Heidi Siegmund Cuda can be reached at weekend@latimes.com


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