By Erik Sofge

Miss Piggy at Talk Nerdy to M3 (Credit: All photos by author)


As Comic-Con photo galleries can increasingly attest to, geek culture and exhibitionist cosplayers are as inseparable as a slashfic-starring Superman and Batman. But nothing inside or lined up outside a convention center compares to the hardcore nerdity on display in Talk Nerdy to M3, a burlesque show performed by Rogue Burlesque and Sirlesque that recently ran for two nights at Harvard’s Oberon Theater.

Some of the show’s gags were straightforward: a Dalek from Doctor Who with an erection and Aquaman distracted by a can of tuna. Others were inspired, like Rogue’s aborted striptease (she touches an audience member seductively, then runs away screaming “I’m sorry!” after he collapses) and a Weird Al Yankovic drag king sliding floppy disks down her body.

What was surprising was how well stripping and superheroes go together. There were enough rapid-fire references to cartoons, comic books, video games, D&D and even board games to fill a bag of magic holding. And yet, it felt like alt-burlesque should, with nerdy iconography settling comfortably into the self-aware sex appeal of performers who are in on every joke. And nothing, it turns out, draws the gaze like a female Axe Cop, whose clothes come off — but whose moustache doesn’t.

Here, for anyone too busy, far away or “cool” to attend, are photos of Talk Nerdy to M3:

In an early test of the audience’s subject matter expertise, a suspendered, fez-wearing Dr. Who reveals a cheeky reference from the BBC TV show. (“Bad Wolf” was a recurring phrase, as well as a character.)

Performer Dixie Douya’s strip-tease starts off glamorously enough.

But soon, Dixie Douya is dancing against a slideshow backdrop of tragically dorky childhood photos, eliciting a challenge that all nerds face: growing up.

Talk Nerdy to M3’s narrative follows a shut-in son and his mother at the fictional Ober-Con. Here, a convention-going cosplayer cleans the stage during intermission.


A stripped-down Aquaman discovers that, against all odds, the girl he’s been pursuing has picked him over a mostly nude Batman and Superman. Spoiler: She’s a mermaid, and Batman and Superman wind up making out.

Another precision-guided reference: Axe Cop drops mid-routine to get the comic/cartoon character’s nightly allotment of rest.

A janitor at Ober-Con is inspired to superheroics. Later, she stops a robbery and cluelessly showers the crowd with money.


Buffy takes down vampires positioned throughout the theatre.


In the most straightforward routine of the show, Buffy is disrobed by a vampire (Spike, presumably).


A perfectly orchestrated money shot for Nintendo fans: While making her way to the stage, a female Mario finds a gold question-marked box suspended from the mezzanine. She, of course, punches it.

Mario discovers a fire flower.


Firefly’s Captain Malcolm Reynolds is too busy shooting Captain Hammer from Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog to strip.

Miss Piggy takes an inclusive stance when her seduction of Kermit is interrupted by a pervy Beaker.


In the show’s closing act, the protagonist introduces his mother to his new girlfriend: a Weird Al cosplayer wearing an SNES controller as a necklace and caressing herself with floppy disks.

The surreal finale features a group number, with the Yankovic drag king joined by pun-embodying backup dancers: actual cat ladies who are catty towards Yankovic and who finally strip her of even her accordion.

A doctor (Who), a Kryptonian and newspaper reporter step out of a police box during the final bow.


Erik Sofge is a technology, science and culture writer based in Massachusetts. His work has appeared in Fast Company, Men’s Journal, Popular Mechanics, Popular Science and Slate.