Let’s take a moment to give a shout out to voice actress Tress MacNeille. If you’ve watched an animated cartoon from the past twenty years, you’ve probably heard her voice. For this episode, she was elevated in the credits to the main cast, though afterwards she’ll go back to a supporting cast member. And yes, she’s been on The Simpsons for a while as the voice of the Agnes Skinner. For this episode, she voices one Belle, owner of a house of ill-repute.
Yes, it’s a burlesque house.
How does the action get to such a disreputable institution? Well, funny story. Lisa learned there was an oil spill and convinced Marge to take her there to rescue small, cute animals. Leaving Homer and Bart alone, Marge’s best advice to her husband was, if something went wrong, he should just do as she would do. And probably keep the cat out of the furnace.
An accident involving a model airplane sends Bart climbing a fence to the house of a witch. Or maybe it was a Frankenstein. Or maybe it’s the house where they take the brains of zombies and put them in the bodies of other zombies to create a race of super-zombies. You know, that house. Bart’s efforts end with him breaking a stone gargoyle after a fall off the roof and the proprietor of the house grabbing Bart and taking him back to Homer. Now, maybe if Homer hadn’t misplaced his pants and came to the door wearing a grocery bag, things might have gone better. That’s doubtful. Homer’s best idea for a punishment is to force Bart to do chores for the older woman until he’s paid off his debt.
That’s when we learn the older woman, Belle, runs a burlesque house. Bart got in due to Homer’s insistence. There’s skimpy-costumes on the women, gambling, and crappy comedians. Bart takes to the place quite quickly.
Then Bart starts encountering people he knows. Grampa is upset until he learns Bart working there is Homer’s idea. Principal Skinner, on the other hand, goes to the religious folks. You know, the Lovejoys and the Flanderses. Homer himself only learned what was in the house when Bart stayed out really late one night and he went to pick up his son.
So, Homer defends his call to let Bart work in a burlesque house…and that’s when Marge comes home. See, Lisa and Marge were dissuaded from helping when all the animal clean-up went to Hollywood celebrities and the women were left to clean rocks. Promises of kelp burgers and an Eskimo comedian sent the Simpson women scurrying home just in time to hear Homer proclaim that he had no issue with where Bart worked.
See, Marge totally does. After trying to tell Belle to get out of town (Belle and her family had been in Springfield longer), the only thing to do is call a town meeting and with the other religious types tell everyone in town about the house that needed to be destroyed. And they had photographic proof of the clientele, which includes Dr. Hibbert, Cletus, Barney, Patty (?), Chief Wiggum (twice!), Smithers (he’d promised his parents he’d give it a try), and even Mayor Quimby, it becomes clear the people attending this infamous house were more than a small group of loyal perverts; you know, not just Eugene and Rusty.
So, off to destroy the house, and the only way to stop the crowd is with a song. It’s a very burlesque-y song, the kind that always works in Springfield. If a song can convince the people of this town to build a monorail, it can save a burlesque house.
Too bad Marge missed the song. She was renting the bulldozer. And she has a song of her own, but Marge hits a brake on her machine and knocks out a wing of the house. Since the whole town is against her, Marge has to make it up to Belle now. So, Marge has to work at the Maison Derriere until her debt is paid off. She’s got a ventriloquist act.
You know, if the citizens knew about the bordello that Grampa and Jasper mention, then maybe they’d really do something about the morality of the town.