Nova Scotia

Nova Star Cruises owes Portland burlesque dancing company $1,000

Newly filed bankruptcy records reveal the Yarmouth-to-Maine ferry operator hired Redhot & Ladylike, a burlesque group that entertained passengers.

Dancing nurses, cops and housewives among 216 creditors listed in bankruptcy filing

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      On the list of 216 creditors to which Nova Star Cruises owes money, the name of one small business in Portland, Maine, leaves little to the imagination. 

      Between June and October, scantily clad dancers put on six burlesque shows each weekend for passengers on the Yarmouth-to-Maine ferry. They worked for Redhot & Ladylike, which is owed $1,000 by Nova Star Cruises after it filed for bankruptcy on April 13. 

      In the ship's Aqua Lounge, women dancers donned nurse outfits, corsets, and housewife garb. Male dancers wore police uniforms, and sometimes, not much at all. 

      "It was adult entertainment — leaving some things to the imagination, which I think is far sexier," said Redhot & Ladylike owner MissE Cloutier. 

      "I don't regret it for a second." 

      Adults-only by night

      Cloutier opened the dance school in 2010, a year after The Cat — the previous ferry service between Nova Scotia and Maine — ended. 

      She contacted Nova Star Cruises about bringing entertainment on board. After only a few meetings, she says she locked down a contract that paid her company $1,000 a weekend and gave 16 of her dancers food and a place to sleep. 

      "It was a weekend getaway to board the boat, and get away and entertain people," she said. 

      Dancers perform in the Nova Star's Aqua Lounge. (Redhot & Ladylike)

      By day, Cloutier was a hip-hop dance teacher to kids, allowing parents a chance "to relax a bit and not [be] chasing their kid around the deck."

      By night, it was adults-only.

      'The boat is rocking and we're in high heels'

      "Dancing on a boat is very different than dancing on stage, taking into consideration the waves and the swells," she recalled. 

      "I'd tell the audience, if we look like we're falling, it's not because we're drinking, it's because the boat is rocking and we're in high heels." 

      Cloutier says she's been in touch with a few Nova Scotians who want to visit Portland for some dancing lessons. 

      'It will always be a fond memory'

      The shows were meant to pull people from their comfort zones during the 12-hour voyage between destinations, Cloutier said. 

      Often, her dancers literally pulled people from the audience to take part in story narratives, depending on the costume. Those led to her fondest memories.

      Redhot & Ladylike's dancers wore a variety of costumes, ranging from police uniforms to doctor outfits. (Redhot & Ladylike)

      "So I have a set of male dancers who were pretend cops," she said. "These two ladies from the audience took over the show. That was like the best night ever."

      Cloutier doesn't expect to be paid her $1,000, owed for the last weekend her dancers hit the Aqua Lounge. But she's not worried about it. For the networking alone, she says it was worthwhile. 

      "For us as dancers, it was that little mini claim to fame," she said. "It's really sad that it [the ship] didn't succeed, but you know for us it will always be a fond memory." 

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