We got to the theatre shockingly early but it turned out to be a happy accident. People who enjoy burlesque also enjoy getting dressed up, and the patrons flooding into the JWCOCA foyer on Friday were dressed up to the nines. Corsets, Kitten d’Amour, waistcoats, slashes of red lipstick, even one gorgeous women in a long formal gown were part of the pre-show entertainment.
Burlesque is not stripping, per say. Clothes are removed but that’s not really why you go along. Historically, a burlesque show included individual singing, dancing and other acts as well as stripteases but in recent decades the strip has rather hijacked the term so now a burlesque show is striptease, but the classiest form of strip you can imagine. A burlesque act is a real show, with costuming, music, dancing and a story or theme. The women are performers who put time and money into the development of their acts, which they can then tour the world.
Lola the Vamp, photo taken from the ABF website.
In direct comparison to strip clubs, burlesque is actually, genuinely sexy. These women are beautiful, graceful, stylishly dressed. There is a naughtiness and seduction in burlesque that has a cross-gender appeal.
I for one found it all tremendously sexy.
At the Brisbane show of the Australian Burlesque Festival, 15 women put on 16 acts with sequins, tassels, dragons, flamingoes, ballet, tigers and a lot of feathers.
Lena Marlene, photo taken from the ABF website.
My runaway favourite was a Loulou D'vil from Finland who was just stunning and moved around the stage with a supreme confidence and grace. She also had one of the more intricate, old-fashioned costumes inspired by 1930's or 50's burlesque dancers with many layers including gloves, gown and corset that had to be removed so the anticipation was drawn out.
Loulou D'vil, photo courtesy of the ABF website.
Other marvellous acts included Rosy Rabbit, who danced to Teach Me Tiger and had a really clever costume that played a real role in her act. Lila Luxx was one of the few local girls in the line-up an I loved her act because it was a little different. The first to come out in boudoir-style dressing gown and underwear, she had clearly been a ballet dancer, gliding around the stage to Lana Del Ray’s Video Games and making excellent use of a chair prop.
I asked Chuck to come with me because, well, I figured he’d enjoy it. As a heterosexual male there was not a lot to object to about the show. His favourite was a showgirl from New York, Peekaboo Pointe who was the only performer to appear twice. Introduced by the MC as seducing the world one tassel-performance at a time her first performance was magnificent. She came on in a floor length beaded-net gown, paraded around the stage then shimmied the gown off with the most incredible flow of rustle and sparkle before showing off her infamous tassel-skills.
Other magnificent performances came from Anna Fur Laxis (2011 Miss World Exotic 1st runner up) and her good girl/bad girl act and Lena Marlane as the sexiest Mrs Slocombe you’ve ever seen (“What about my pussy?”) whose act included beautiful aerial silks.
The final show of the night was a performance by the current reigning Queen of Burlesque, who had just been inducted into the Burlesque Hall of Fame. Imogen Kelly is the first Aussie girl to have won this prestigious title and with the routine she put on was truly spectacular.
Imogen Kelly, reigning Miss World Exotic 2012.
Burlesque is experiencing something of a hey-day at the moment was you can go to classes with groups like the Scoundrelles and Brisbane Burlesque.
There is one proper burlesque club I know about in Brisbane The Velvet Cigar, in Paddington. A place I keep promising I will visit. I think after Saturday night I will have to go and take afew people along to enjoy the show.