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Meet Bryce Bordello — and the Fine Art of Boylesque 

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Jones only knows of a few other straight men who perform boylesque regularly in St. Louis.

"A lot of them will get started, learn the dance, the moves, and then I don't know what happens," Jones says. "Maybe they just realize it was not for them."

Dick Nail-Em is one of the few who has stuck to boylesque. An engineering student who declines to give his real name, he is also under the tutelage of Sumtimes.

"I'm a heavier guy, and I never thought in a million years I would do this," Nail-Em says.

Prior to finding boylesque, Nail-Em was having a rough time. His mom was battling diabetes, kidney failure and heart disease; his studies were stressful.

"Burlesque saved me. It gave me purpose," Nail-Em explains. "To be on a stage and in front of a crowd makes me happy. I've learned a lot about myself and have made so many friends in the last two years that I'll always be happy for the chance that I got."

click to enlarge Jace Jones. - STEVE TRUESDELL
  • Steve Truesdell
  • Jace Jones.

Both Jones and Nail-Em say they hope to inspire more men to give boylesque a try.

"In places like New York or Chicago, boylesque is much, much bigger," Jones says. "In St. Louis, we are a rarity. It's sad."

Jones still loves his Cubs, and still obsesses over comic books and sci-fi. From time to time, such as when he's speaking too fast, a mild stutter develops. It all goes away when he is onstage.

There, he says, "I am not the goofy nerd anymore. My voice drops a little bit. Bryce Bordello is everything I wanted to be when I was younger. He is that person in high school you kind of envy, because they were confident, suave, smooth."

In late September Sumtimes gave Jones the lead to produce his first show, Comic-Kazi — a ComicCon-style burlesque event at the R Bar. During its run, Jones was able to show off both his offstage persona and his boylesque alter ego.

Before an audience brimming with Marvel and DC character costumes, Jones played "The Nerd." He took the stage stumbling and stuttering, wearing glasses, and carrying a backpack full of his favorite comic magazines. This performance was an homage to all Jones was, and all he is, both under the red lights of the clubs and the dawn of his mornings as an average guy.

His two worlds collided: He took off his clothes to reveal loose Superman shorts.

The audience went wild.

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