September-October 2011: 9th Annual New York Burlesque Festival

Update: Read my diary of NYBF published in 21st Century Burlesque here

So much to write! I was over the moon to be accepted to perform at the 9th Annual New York Burlesque Festival, getting to see live performances from some of my favourite burlesque inspirations such as Nasty Canasta and Little Brooklyn, and to explore New York City for the first time. I spent 5 days with my chap Edwin Flay, walking till near feet-bleeding point, uptown and downtown and all over every type of -side, taking in as much as we could! Edwin being an escape artist, some of the sightseeing included Harry Houdini-related points of interest, including his grave in Brooklyn (left) and an exhibition of Houdini-related paraphernalia at a magic shop in Manhatten (right):

And then, of course, there was the Burlesque Festival! I performed on the Friday night Premiere Party at Brooklyn Bowl – yes, the venue had bowling lanes right next to the stage! It was kind of awesome when the (sold out!) venue was packed to see hundreds of people roaring and cheering the burlesque, while to their right people continued to bowl, pretty unfazed by the flesh and fabulousness around them.

Here’s a pic of the venue snapped at the tech rehearsals before the masses arrived. In the dressing room I met fantastic performers Lillian Starr from Sydney, Australia and Honey Cocoa Bordeauxx from Texas. It was awesome to meet performers from different countries and cities and chat about the types of burlesque that are popular in our own cities – really interesting stuff! Later that night both of them wowed me with their performances – Honey can shake it like no other and what Lilian does with a pie has to be seen to be believed! The audience went nuts for both of them, deservedly! I was little worried about how my performance of Thatcher, such a British icon, would go down with the New York crowd but they were very vocally appreciative and as I’ve been described as “seriously frightening” by Burlesque Beat  I consider my first New York appearance as a success!

One of mine and Edwin’s favourite performers on the night was Bonbon Bombay from Montreal, who blew us away with this incredible act of character and puppetry:

I caught up with Bonbon the following night at the Saturday Spectacular show at B.B. Kings. I wish I had some pictures to post of the wonderful acts that I saw but as it was completely packed and I was standing, I had to jump to be able to see anything at all! I can say that Murray Hill did a fine job as usual as host, that I enjoyed Nasty Canasta’s Bambi act and it was a treat to see the World Famous Pontani Sisters in action.

There isn’t nearly enough space for me to describe how New York blew me away, the people were incredibly friendly, the city was constantly abuzz with vitality and we ate, saw and walked our way through a really memorable trip. A short diary of my trip has now been published by 21st Century Burlesque here so you can catch up on my take on the festival and see some pics!

 

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September 2011: Burly Q & a bit of hosting

In Edinburgh near the end of the Fringe I was contacted by the lovely Audrey Hepcat from one of my favourite UK cabaret shows – Burly Q in Sheffield. I was delighted that they wanted me to be a part of their September show, and even more pleased that I would be sharing the stage with two of my favourite performers, Audacity Chutzpah and Laurie Hagen.

In early September we all travelled up to a delightful proper working men’s club with exactly the right atmos for an enjoyable night. Here’s Audacity with a running order from the 70s which we found in our dressing room – Old skool!

The audience, as they tend to be in the north were AWESOME, enthusiastic and welcoming. I performed an act I don’t do very often, How to Burlesque the British Way, and my debauched rock groupie act Rock & Roll Heart and they went down a storm. The finale act, Audacity & Laurie’s double fan dance, was bth graceful and pant-wettingly funny. You can see how much here:

On September 14th I did something a bit different: I hosted (and tech’d and performed at!) Cirque du Surrealism, a weekly cabaret show at central London restaurant Salvador & Amanda. It’s nice to host a show as I don’t get to do as much of it as I would like, and even nicer to work with a variety of sideshow, circus and street artists whom I hadn’t met previously. Hopefully I’ll be back there again before too long.

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August 2011: Edinburgh Fringe Festival

It’s August 8th, I’m in Edinburgh and will be here for the whole month working as a sound engineer, stage manager and performing at various cabaret shows around the city. I’ve already performed in several shows, here is where you can catch me if you’re in this beautiful city between now and August 28th:

August 8th: Itsy’s Midnight Kabarett – Speakeasy at the Voodoo Rooms, midnight

August 9th: Voodoo Revue – Ballroom at Voodoo Rooms, 8:10pm, Kitty Cointreau’s BraHaHa at Just the Tonic at The Caves, 10:45pm

August 10th: Voodoo Revue, 8:10pm

August 11th: Kitty Cointreau’s BraHaHa, 10:45pm

August 12th: Kabarett: Alternative Variety – Speakeasy at Voodoo Rooms, 7:15pm

August 13th: Kabarett: Alternative Variety, 7:15pm, Itsy’s Midnight Kabarett, midnight

August 14th: Itsy’s Midnight Kabarett, midnight

August 16th: Kitty Cointreau’s BraHaHa, 10:45pm

August 19th: Itsy’s Midnight Kabarett, midnight

August 20th: Itsy’s Midnight Kabarett, midnight

and more dates to come, including appearances at Gorgeous George Cabaret Club

If you’re in the mood for musical cabaret shows, I highly recommend Tricity Vogue’s The Blue Lady Sings Back, the FREE Ukulele Cabaret with a different line-up of specials guests from around the Fringe every night and kazoos!, the fabulous and sexual Eastend Cabaret, and the glorious Moonfish Rhumba.

Also, don’t miss Mat Ricardo in his new show Three Balls and a New Suit, a finer entertainer you will never see.

Must dash – but I am expecting to meet very exciting people soon, will update as and when!

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August 2011: A roundup of Edinburgh Fringe

Wow, what a month! I’m now back in London and really only just recovering from the frenetic intense cabaretti performance chaos that was the Fringe. I can’t clearly explain or detail everything that I was involved in so here are the highlights:

Reverend Bear & Dr Whisky

Kudos to these guys, not only did they write a song called “Bears will Fuck You Up” which I am still singing (to myself) and includes the line “bears are really smart and they will eat your ass for food” they performed it on the night of this headline, and they still managed to get audience in after their Fringe venue decided to change its name in the middle of their run. Plus they’re really good blues musicians who can improvise in Bavarian as well as English and riff on UK politics.

The Jane Austen Argument and Amanda Fucking Palmer, and Neil Gaiman

I get a bit gushy about meeting these fabulous people and the conversation I had with Neil about kazoos over on my sound engineering blog here  but here is a pic to prove it really did happen. And it was amazing.

That’s AFP to the left, with Tom (with the black wings) from The Jane Austen Argument next to her, and his bandmate Jen on his right. AFP sang Creep accompanied on ukulele (and it was amazing) and they sang Bad Wine and Lemon Cake together and it was more beautiful than a ukulele night in a curtained-off part of a pub in Edinburgh has a right to be. I heart them.

Till next year’s madness!

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July 2011: The Fling and Thatcher at the Zoo

It’s always a joy to perform with friends, and on July 2nd I got the chance to do just that, performing with burlesque star Beatrix von Bourbon, gentleman juggler extraordinaire Mat Ricardo, burlesque powerhouse Khandie Khisses, firestarter Lydia Darling and musical madcaps Moonfish Rhumba at The Fling festival in Chelmsford, Essex. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as I was a little unsure of what Essex audiences would make of my particular brand of burlesque, but I had nothing to worry about. The festival was charming, with little afternoon tea tents, a fabulous Bollywood dance tent and our cabaret tent, as well as live music and lots of other fun and games. The audiences were well up for our show, and it was a pleasure to hang out with my friends on a lovely sunny day.

Here’s a picture of me and Lydia taken by Mat Ricardo. The showgirl troupe who were sharing our dressing tent thought we were doing an Absolutely Fabulous act…we were just dressed as we do normally…

Photo by Mat Ricardo Photography

This one is of Mat showing Beatrix how to do the famous tablecloth pull, which he uses in his show. She got it on the first go!

This last photo of me was snapped by Mat just after I came off stage after performing Rock n Roll Heart, which ends with me cascading beer over myself. We decided I looked like a 70s porn star who’d had a hard day at the office

Photo by Mat Ricardo Photography

On July 8th I trotted off to one of the last places I expected to perform: London Zoo. Over June and July ZSL London Zoo hosted an evening event called “Zoo Lates”, which included a twisted cabaret as part of the entertainment. I performed Thatcher (the “political animal”) to audiences of attentive, if at times slightly bemused, people. The best part though was that I got to see the new penguin enclosure – look, penguins!

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June 2011: Time for Tease

Among my absolute favourite London-based burlesque gigs to work at is Time for Tease, which is a decadent concoction of a fabulous afternoon tea at retro-themed underground club Volupte with equally fabulous burlesque entertainment. I started working at Time for Tease in 2009, first as a Gateaux Vivant, then also performing my own burlesque acts, and more recently, as one of the managers.

It’s a privilege to work with lovely Zoe Fletcher, the founder of Time for Tease and her hand-picked group of performers, which change every week. The intimate nature of Volupte (and the awesome cocktails) makes it impossible not to involve the audience in your act – which I love doing – and I’ve learnt and continue to learn a lot about performance watching stars such as Amber Topaz, Luna Rosa and Kiki Kaboom work the room until every person is lapping from their hands (sometimes literally).

I’ve also had a good amount of cake in my mouth and on my face as a Gateaux Vivant. Gateaux Vivants are the between-acts entertainment at Time for Tease. Taking the spirit of Tableaux Vivant as inspiration, we pose relatively naked in tasteful lingerie and use cake-based products to protect our modesty, as it were. With three poses over the afternoon, it’s nice to often make a bit of a story out of them. My stories usually involve me starting very proper, then getting greedy and shoving cake in my face, or my face in cake. The first photo is me looking relatively demure backstage at Volupte before my first Gateaux Vivant pose.

Photo by Mat Ricardo

 

The second photo by Mat Ricardo was taken just after I came offstage after my last Gateaux Vivant pose. The observant of you will note the difference! I love this photo.

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June 2011: Writing for Retrochick and a very special photoshoot

Earlier in the year I was invited by Retrochick to write a guest post for her as part of allowing her to take a well-deserved holiday. I am a regular reader of her useful and entertaining vintage blog and was delighted by the chance to write about vintage in my life. I decided to write about vintage from the perspective of my performance life, from how I started wearing vintage in my teens to how I incorporate it in my act. You can read my efforts here.

On June 11th I had another exciting invitation, this time to wear very little (no change there) and pose as an acolyte for Lottie Davies for her portrait of Tricity Vogue. The final picture, which I think you’ll agree is stunning, will be used for the flyer of Tricity’s new Edinburgh Fringe Show, The Blue Lady Sings Back. We all had to be topless for the sheet (that is one piece of material!) to be wrapped around us, and one of the best parts of the day was Lottie’s indignation that she had “so many beautiful boobs” and she couldn’t include them in the picture! You can find me at the bottom left of the picture. Also included are burlesque stars Audacity Chutzpah on my right and Ginger Blush next to her.

Copyright Lottie Davies

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May 8th 2011: Carnival Divine

Photo by Juninho

I was very excited about my debut performance in Manchester, and even more so because Carnival Divine is run by the lovely Fanny Divine with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working before. As well as Fanny I got to catch up with the effervescent Lola Pops and meet gorgeous and talented Sherry Trifle. It’s always nice to see routines that you’ve heard much about, and Sherry’s Judderman lived up to the expectation! I spent a good portion of my getting-ready time marvelling at her costume (so shiny! so sparkly!) then marvelling again at her fluidity on stage. It was lovely to see Fanny’s graceful fan dance as well, and see Lola’s fun balloon pop again. The audience were the best sort – vocal and warm without being overpowering, appreciative and generous. I had a fabulous time and look forward to performing in Manchester in the future!

The photo from the evening is of my fur-coat-no-knickers song & striptease act “Sie Will” by Juninho, you can see more of his work at http://photographerjuninho.deviantart.com/ and http://www.modelmayhem.com/300708

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April 24th – 30th 2011: Mini UK Tour

I love performing outside of London and travelling around the UK and this month I was blessed with several gigs around the time of the royal wedding – all demanding the Thatch, naturally! First stop was Roxy’s Rendezvous in Southampton on April 24th for their “Old Enough to Know Better” event.

Roxy Twirls was one of the first burlesque performers that I worked with and for at my debut performance in Southampton back in 2008, and it’s always a priviledge to be invited to perform at one of her well-organised and fun events. I wasn’t able to stay for the party afterwards as I had to dash back to London, but I did get to briefly catch up with three of my favourite miscreant performers Joe Black, Frank Sanazi and Miss Glory Pearl. Lovely!

April 28th saw me board a train to Prestatyn for Dr Sketchy’s Anti-Art School South Wales and a Royal Wedding-themed show, with a dominating latex-clad Kate, submissive (and loving it!) Wills and me as Thatcher as a surprise wedding guest. I love performing at Dr Sketchy events because they’re loads of fun and people produce the most amazing pictures.

I snapped a couple of phone pics backstage , a saucy Maggie pre-performance, and looking a little more demure in my after-show vintage 60s frock

It was great to also finally meet fellow performers Frank Diaablo and Georgia Honey – the evening’s heroic Wills and saucy Kate.

I wish I could have stayed longer on the Welsh coast, but after a good night’s sleep and refreshing morning swim (in the hotel pool, the beach was a wee bit chilly let alone the sea), I was off by rail again on April 29th to Bolton. Partway through the journey my father rang me from Australia to ask if I was watching the wedding. I wasn’t – I couldn’t stream the coverage on the train – but I told him it didn’t matter as Twitter and the BBC were keeping me more than informed. He told me he was proudly standing up to sing Jerusalem with gusto – a patriot to the last!

By the time I got to Bolton to headline for The Honey Pot Burlesque the train was abuzz with chat about The Dress, The Ceremony and The Kiss so I felt like I hadn’t missed a thing. The Royal Wedding spirit was continued by the acts in Bolton, with appropriately-themed, delightful acts from Ruby Heels, Diamond and Starlust and Evelyn Entice. I was enthralled by Constance Peach’s Bellini act and Susie von Garter was a most charming host. Once of the perks of performing out of London is the chance to meet and catch up with performers who I have met in the whirling virtual worlds of forums and Facebook, and Bolton proved to be just such an event.

The next morning, April 30th, I was back on the train to travel to the opposite side of the country – Torquay, for Kinky & Quirky. This is one of my favourite nights in the UK at which to perform, it’s fun, flamboyant and always has a fabulous line-up. As well as me, with the debut of a controversial new act (more on that in a bit) I shared the stage with two of my favourite comic burlesque performers, Audacity Chutzpah and Kiki Lovechild. Here’s us backstage at the Rainbow Club in Torquay – and an external pic of the venue:

Audacity looks hawt, Kiki looks slightly bemused and I am attempting to look demure in a short blonde wig…because this was part of my costume for my brand-new act England’s Rose, which is based on the life and death of Diana Princess of Wales – cue controversy! I was nervous about performing the act, which Kinky & Quirky had specifically requested, as it was the weekend of the Royal Wedding and patriotic fever was running high, but I felt it went as well as it could –  no outright boos and lots of people saying that it really made them re-consider the nature of burlesque, and a few saying it made them cry! I couldn’t really ask for a better response. Next step: to see what the rest of the UK thinks of it.

Here’s a lovely pic by Harry Duns of the beginning of my Diana act, which starts with her wedding to Prince Charles, featuring Audacity Chutzpah as my lovely bridesmaid:

Copyright 2010 Harry Duns http://www.harryduns.com/

I also performed Thatcher, and it’s not often I get to say that this act was the least controversial of my performances! I guess everyone loves a villain.

Huge thanks to Sarah and Mark Bell of Kinky & Quirky for taking a risk on my Diana act and supporting me. Long may their unique cabaret show reign supreme in Devon! I had a fantastic night hanging with my co-stars, here’s another backstage pic of us really getting into the snack box. We went crazy with the carrot sticks.

The next day I said farewell to the lovely south west coast (one day I’ll stay longer than a night) and hoofed it back to London to unpack and sleep. The wedding season is over for me, but I’ll be back on stage very soon.

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April 20th 2011: Performing at Maggie’s 1st Birthday Party

Last year a few fellow performers alerted me to the existence of Maggie’s, an 80s-themed club in Chelsea, London, with an obvious fondness for my favourite British political icon – Margaret Thatcher! Obviously my signature burlesque act needed to be performed here and so I was booked for their 1st birthday party celebrations.

I haven’t seen any photos of the night but it looked very successful judging from the amount of people there – the room was rammed full – and the amount of fabulous 80s-themed cocktails the bar staff were constantly creating for eager clientele! I did manage to get a couple of the snaps of the toilets – glitter-ball fantastic! That’s the bra for my Thatcher act on top of the toilet, I thought it was only appropriate:

Maggie’s has a very enviable collection of Thatcher memorabilia as well, including a pair of Dennis & Maggie slippers. Hopefully I’ll be invited back at some point and I can get more pictures!

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