The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Hotsy Totsy Burlesque lures a new audience with a bawdy take on ‘Doctor Who’ at the Black Cat

The 11th Doctor (Handsome Brad, left) and Amy (Cherry Pitz) act up in “Boobies in the TARDIS.” (Ben Trivett)

Tassels and pasties aren’t always enough to get people in the door. You gotta get a gimmick, and sometimes that gimmick wears a bow tie and can travel through space and time. That’s the idea behind “Boobies in the TARDIS, ” a “Doctor Who”-themed burlesque show that will slink its way onto the Black Cat stage Friday.

Hotsy Totsy Burlesque’s tribute to the long-running BBC series is produced by Cyndi Freeman (who hosts as Cherry Pitz) and Joe the Shark. The evening consists of multiple acts, each its own story; a loose plot, involving the Doctor and Cherry Pitz’s birthday, ties it all together. The Doctor, a human-looking alien who travels in a ship called the TARDIS and occasionally changes bodies, appears in his 11th incarnation alongside Earth friends Amy and Rory.

Freeman and Joe know how to combine nerdy and dirty. The New York-based Hotsy Totsy has done burlesque takes on “The Golden Girls,” “Game of Thrones” and 1978’s “The Star Wars Holiday Special,” to name a few.

The approach is a gateway drug of sorts.

“There are a number of, for lack of a better term, nerd-themed shows,” Joe says. “A themed show brings in people who might not approach burlesque otherwise.”

Wary burlesque virgins lured by the theme have nothing to fear. The key to successful nerd burlesque is true affection for the source material coupled with a solid knowledge of the canon.

“We blow [fans] away quite often because we’re not just making fun of the show, we really love the show,” Freeman says. “We get to make fun of our favorite characters and use lines from our favorite episodes.”

There are, of course, risks to portraying characters whose fans obsess over detail and continuity.

“The first time we did ‘Doctor Who’ we had a sonic screwdriver that someone had lent us,” Freeman says of the Doctor’s trademark gadget. “Three people came up to us and were just adamant that we had the wrong sonic screwdriver.”

“Now we make sure we have the right things,” Joe says.

Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW; Fri., 8:45 & 11 p.m., $12-$15; 202-667-4490. (U Street)