Bottoms Up Quad City Burlesque is billing its next show as the greatest carnival event the Quad Cities has ever seen.

On Saturday, Aug. 26 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., at Circa ’21 Speakeasy, 1818 3rd Ave., Rock Island, this won’t be your family-friendly Ringling Brothers Circus. Bottoms Up (the QC’s longest-running burlesque troupe) is bringing you a night of sensuality and theatrical entertainment unlike any other with trick ponies, knife throwers, human cannonballs, and more.

“The thing with this show, there are actual carnival acts – you have actual clowns doing clown acts, with burlesque mixed in,” Bottoms Up manager and veteran performer Evee Grey said Wednesday. You have a sword swallower actually swallowing a sword while they’re doing burlesque. Everything is tied into the circus theme.”

During intermission, there will be sideshow acts, interacting with the audience, like a woman on a bed of nails.

Grey has been in the troupe for seven years and this weekend is her last show.

“I have other obligations; my father has recently come to live with me,” she said. “It wouldn’t be fair to the troupe if I tried to do both. I can’t manage this effectively and work, and take care of my family effectively the way that I need to, so nobody needs to suffer.”

The carnival will feature 18 performers in all. Bottoms Up often has themed shows, and the September show will be an improv night plus a Lady Sativa slumber party, Grey said.

The Saturday emcees will be Steve Jennings and Evee Grey, playing ringmaster roles.

Monthly shows at Speakeasy

This year, BU has been monthly at the Speakeasy, except for June (while it focused on Pride activities).

Betsey Beau Peep is in charge of performers for Planet Funk Con (the QC’s premier comics and entertainment convention), which they’ll be at Friday at 7:15 p.m. at the RiverCenter. This is Bottoms Up’s second year of doing that cosplay (“nerdlesque”) event, where about a half dozen ladies play their favorite movie characters – including Indiana Jones, Bowser from Super Mario Bros., Gandalf (from “Lord of the Rings”) and Chucky.

They’ve never done a nerdlesque theme show at Speakeasy, but some of the characters have been.

“We’re cosplaying, but taking off our clothes,” Beau Peep said. “One of my big costumes, I could enter into a costume contest at conventions.”

For the carnival, she is a bearded lady, performing to “This is Me” from “The Greatest Showman.”

“It’s very meaningful to me, because we all have our insecurities, with what we do, and I think the type of song says ‘This is me; I accept myself for who I am’,” Beau Peep said, noting that’s the core philosophy of burlesque overall, to take pride in their unique personality and body shape.

Drop-dead gorgeous manager

BU veteran Drop Dead Red is taking over as new troupe manager.

Drop Dead Red promoting the troupe’s disco show in March 2023.

“We have a core group that always performs and sometimes, we have guest performers from other places,” she said Wednesday. “The carnival theme is super fun. Along with burlesque, I was in a sideshow for many years and so this is near and dear to my heart.”

Red was in sideshows all over the Midwest and as far as Massachusetts. That included bed of nails and fire eating, and one of those performers will be at Saturday’s show.

“We have a very full show, and it’s very heavily interactive with the crowd,” Red said of the Speakeasy sideshow. “People are already going to be up and moving so it’s a good way to be entertaining during that lull.”

A sign at the Speakeasy during rehearsal Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023.

“I enjoy the creativity of being able to perform and being able to make art come to life,” she said. “Everybody’s really good at being able to work together.”

Choosing themes for shows is a group process, Red said. They’re excited to be part of Planet Funk Con again.

The Speakeasy, 1818 3rd Ave., Rock Island, reopened in October 2022 after five months of renovations.

A totally refreshed Speakeasy reopened last October after being closed about five months for renovations and it’s much nicer now. “This space is so beautiful now and it sets the atmosphere for what we do,” Red said. “It becomes more of a special event when the venue is really beautiful.”

Tickets for the Saturday carnival are $20 in advance and $25 the day of the show. VIP seating is sold out for this production. There are three ways to reserve – online HERE; by calling 309-786-7733, Ext. 2, or at the Circa ticket office, 1828 3rd Ave., Rock Island.

Those attending must be 18 or older. For more information, visit the Bottoms Up Facebook page HERE.