Burlesque and drag performers use talents to support abortion access in Pittsburgh | Arts + Entertainment | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Burlesque and drag performers use talents to support abortion access in Pittsburgh

click to enlarge Hands Off performer Hot Toddie - PHOTO: JADE BLOOM PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo: Jade Bloom Photography
Hands Off performer Hot Toddie
Abortion rights have undergone a series of attacks throughout the country, with restrictive laws and bans being signed by legislators in Texas and other states. This has culminated in outrage over a recent Politico story about a leaked initial draft majority opinion suggesting that the Supreme Court would strike down Roe v. Wade, a 1973 decision that grants pregnant women the constitutional right to an abortion.

Since the document dropped, reproductive rights advocates in Pittsburgh and beyond have looked at ways to protest abortion rights being stripped away, including demonstrating right outside the home of SCOTUS Justice Samuel Alito, who penned the draft.

One Pittsburgh group is using burlesque and drag to show their support for abortion access.


A group of performers will present Hands Off to raise funds for Western Pennsylvania Fund for Choice, an organization that focuses on financial support for patients of the Allegheny Reproductive Health Center, a local provider of abortion, gynecological, and obstetric services. Taking place on Fri., May 13 at Glittersty in Millvale, the event will feature a number of drag, burlesque, and comedy performers. There will also be a raffle.

Guests can pay a $5 suggested fee to get in, and are encouraged to bring plenty of bills to tip the performers.

Hands Off is co-organized by Arla White, a comedian and burlesque performer, and Sam Logsdon AKA Hot Toddie, a voiceover artist and drag queen who also owns the queer publishing company, Phoenix of Alexandria.

“Arla approached me to do Hands Off. It was as simple as her asking, ‘So you wanna do a show to do something about this bullshit?’ and I immediately was in,” says Logsdon, who also works as an administrative assistant at Allies for Health and Wellbeing. “I don't think I ever typed the words ‘Fuck yes’ faster in my life.”


Both White and Logsdon say they wanted to focus on local efforts. White says they came upon an article from The Cut that listed “abortion funds to donate to based on the severity and danger of losing the right,” and knew they had to go with Western Pennsylvania Fund for Choice.

“It can be daunting trying to change laws or support vulnerable people on a national level,” says Logsdon. “Real, tangible changes start at home. You are more likely to see the difference if you set your goals to something manageable. By using our art for a local cause, too, it's going to inspire others who might be unable to protest to think of other ways to participate in direct action.”

Both White and Logsdon have a background in organizing entertainment-driven fundraisers for a variety of causes. White mentions some events she helped organize and perform in, including HaHa Hearts!, a comedy burlesque fundraiser for Pittsburgh Action Against Rape, and Fierce! Alt-Roc(k)que, a fundraiser for Fierce! Queer Performing Arts Festival, among others.
click to enlarge Hands Off host and co-organizer Arla White - PHOTO: CTG PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo: CTG Photography
Hands Off host and co-organizer Arla White
For Hands Off, the audience can expect to see pinup model and burlesque performer Eden Ivy, and drag acts Venus Doom, Lamar LaCroix, and Hot Toddie. White will host the event as “The Hostess with the Most Tits” (she makes sure to credit Eden Ivy for the moniker.)

White and Logsdon look forward to hosting the event in Glittersty, a queer-owned space that opened in February, and has since served as a safe, welcoming, sober space for LGBTQ performers and artists. Logsdon says they have been sober for almost two years, and say it is “so rare to have a space that isn't a bar for people like us to feel safe and seen.”

“We want to inspire hope, and are hoping the audience celebrates the act of rebellion with us,” says Logsdon. “It is a smaller venue, so we are hoping for a sense of intimacy with our audience as well. It's a show with a positive message, but it is perfectly natural for the audience to get emotional or feel different emotions as the night goes on.”

Hands Off!: A Fundraiser for Local Abortion Access. 7:30 p.m. Doors at 7 p.m. Fri., May 13. Glittersty. 201 Grant Ave., Millvale. $5 suggested donation. 21 and over. glittersty.com

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