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Burlesque act inspired by banned books kicks off group's literary events in Tampa

YBOR CITY — In creating a popular literary scene in St. Petersburg under her Wordier Than Thou brand, rather than planning events that could be defined as cool and hip, Tiffany Razzano went for adjectives like weird and odd.

Now, she hopes to duplicate that success on the other side of the bridge.

Wordier Than Thou's attempted invasion of Tampa continues with Banned Book Burlesque on Friday at 8 p.m. at the Blind Tiger Cafe on Seventh Avenue.

Admission is $25 at the door.

"Take a sexy journey through a variety of banned publications conveyed through live burlesque interpretations," promotional material for the event says.

"Burlesque dance with a nerdy twist," Razzano said with a laugh. "Dances about books that were banned at some point somewhere."

Past dance themes include Harry Potter and Gone with the Wind, but as for what is on the syllabus this week: "That's a secret," Razzano said.

This will be the fourth Banned Book Burlesque and each has been well attended.

"We've had crowds walking in off the street to watch," Razzano said.

But those took place in St. Petersburg, where in its six years of existence Wordier Than Thou event attendance success emboldened Razzano to expand from a once-a-month open mic night to multiple events and open a used book store bearing the group's name in Pinellas Arts Village.

Yet past sporadic attempts in Tampa have had tepid results.

Wordier Than Thou's gatherings have primarily been traditional open mic nights or pub crawls where each stop includes readings.

Perhaps by introducing Tampa to Wordier Than Thou's more unique productions, the city's literary fans will step out into the open.

At July's Comic Con in Tampa, for example, Wordier Than Thou will present "Doomsayers," a program featuring local writers reading works that predict the end of the world, mostly tongue in cheek.

In between now and then and after, Razzano might bring any number of her fun affairs to Tampa that succeed in St. Petersburg.

She has a Fiction, LIVE! series, for instance, at which local writers submit short stories that actors bring to life on stage.

During Story Brothel that Razzano hosts at St. Petersburg bars, she rents local authors to their fans by the minute.

"We're pimping out authors like prostitutes," Razzano chuckled. "It allows for a very intimate discussion."

St. Petersburg-based author Erika Lance said she earned $80 one night.

"Tiffany is one of the most brilliantly creative people I have ever met," Lance said. "Wordier Than Thou has grown into a community staple, something to go to where you will always find like-minded individuals."

Among Lance's favorite Razzano ideas —the Literary Dating game where contestants were local authors and questions had to be about writing.

And then there is a concept Razzano is still working out: a version of the 1990s-era game show Supermarket Sweep during which contestants answered grocery store-related questions and then raced through store aisles on a shopping spree. But hers will have a bookstore twist.

"I love Tampa. A lot of cool stuff happens there and I'd like to add to it," Razzano said. "But it's been hard to get people excited about what we do. I'm hoping that will change."

Contact Paul Guzzo at pguzzo@tampabay.com. Follow @PGuzzoTimes.

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