Kallisti, House of Burlesque

Kallisti House of Burlesque is a high-end establishment in downtown Moscow, and its grandiose begins right on the doorstep. It occupies an imposing stalinesque building that naturally draws the eye from its neighbours on the street, and keeps it there. During the day it is a building without marker; at night, lights flood its front so even shadows may not thieve its grandeur. The interior within is lavish with nods to the wickedly decadent, its complementary mix of soft and severe differentiating it from the seediness of a strip joint. The main area comprises of a bar and small stage, with a separate room for the restricted performances (this is set up more like a theatre; see below), and its motif is the seductive portrait of a burlesque dancer biting into a golden apple.

As a business model it shouldn’t really work. It operates a strict no-touch rule, but bends the tease to scandalous levels; it delights, titillates and seduces, then smiles and says no. Kallisti’s performers are untouchable, beyond the reach of the nouveau riche and CCD giants alike — despite every last dollar to their name. Strangely, this has made it more popular; it plays right into the current elitist conscious.

Since its opening three years ago, Kallisti has grown a solid reputation for offering the highest calibre entertainment in the most exclusive setting and is renowned for pushing the boundaries of risqué (and for its rather beautiful performers), but never tips into the territory of a strip-club nor a brothel. Among the city’s young billionaires it is a popular haunt; particularly to kick a night off. Given its prime reputation and offer of privacy, it’s not unheard of for important members of the CCD to visit either.

“Kallisti had an air of vintage. Damask inlaid the walls, and the furniture was solid, luxuriant – and expensive. The bar itself was extravagant, back-dropped by antique bottles glittering wealth in the soft light, but it was the stage the seating was positioned to worship. The private arrangements walked a fine and purposeful line between comfort and straight-laced formality; Kallisti encouraged coy promises through fluttered eyelashes, incidental touches and husky whispers. But it sold seduction, not sex. If you wanted an anonymous fuck in a bathroom, or to act the voyeur peeping on the exploits of strangers, there were plenty of venues within the Red Light District to accommodate. In an age where every fetish was catered for, Kallisti was foreplay; the naughty, clandestine kind that left you breathless. And wanting more.

Along the farthest wall, cordoned off, a grand door led the way to the theatre; for those who stumped up the cash for admittance to the midnight show, which was still a few hours away. In the meantime the entertainment was the lightly teasing, wickedly cheeky kind. Most people thought of burlesque as the art of striptease, and Kallisti embraced that whole-heartedly, but it found its earliest roots in parody. Travesty. Sly and subversive mockery. When Ori surveyed this decadent kingdom, that was what she saw.”

Kings of the Castle
Kallisti’s Private Theatre


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