Burlesque Idol has been winging it’s way around Australia at a break neck pace under the steady hand of producers Sarina de Fuego and Lola LaBelle, with host Michael Wheatley charismatically wielding the mike. This is not just an Australian affair, but part of an international showcasing stretching from the UK to the US, which should not be surprise with many a seasoned Australian burlesque performer making inroads into these performance circuits.
Adelaide had its chance to showcase the up and comers in the Burly arts on the 28 March 2015 at the Nexus performance space.
First up we had a stunning kick off with Aurora Blue, slinking onstage to some dirty low blues tunes, resplendent in black satin & trimmings. Gyrating and smiling through almost carnivorous teeth, it was a smooth and engaging performance.
Briar Rose was up next who combined alt-girl style with traditional routines to sassy jazz. She is very elegant on stage and teases the audience, however the connection could probably be strengthened if she allowed herself to move more like the bass drum, and less like the hi-hat rhythms.
Desert Rose is often a surprising performer, and her entry with a mink coat to John Barry Bond-esque sounds had us settling into a certain frame of reference. Then to our surprise, all was discarded as B-52’s “Love Shack” burst through the speakers, and we were treated to a very aerobic Go-Go Girl mix-routine. For me personally, if we can get a few less predictable saxophone tunes, and more interesting musical choices with routines to match, the better the burlesque arts will be. Is it what the standard “I want classical burlesque” crowd want? – this is a debate I should probably engage in another piece for this blog…. Needless to say I think things need to change and get contemporary.
Speaking of which, classical ballet trained Lilly Evelyn bought us a Black Swan inspired routine that moved from piano laden dark ambience to a metal onslaught carrying the same tune. Graceful, effortless and a wonderful example of a performer applying skills from one medium into another.
Lyla Dash bought us back into some classical territory, keeping it cheeky and fun. And while her skills in both nipple tassel & ‘ass-el’ twirling was beyond doubt, the pace of her performance matched the Beatles tune selected, in that it seemed to be over way to quickly. I think she can afford to slow right down and tease us for much longer.
Again cracking the typical burly mold, Miss Kiki brought us her Mr Cheese physical comedy routine over fine British show tunes and Monty Python standards, with diversions into Marvin Gaye. It was all very Victor Victoria (for those old enough to remember Julie Andrews for things other than Sound of Music) . Vaudeville and cabaret are key parts of burlesque, and in fact historically were more prominent parts before the stripping element came to the fore, and this is ground she is clearly keen to reclaim. Heaven knows, burlesque needs a good shot of humour – it takes itself far too seriously quite often.
Velvet Chase brought us into animatronic heaven with a wind up doll routine – which interestingly is quite common in burlesque and yet seldom have I seen it done with such attention to detail (special note to the “Made In China” stencil on her derrier!). Aptly underpinned with Regurgitators “Polyester Girl” this routine was a pleasure to watch, and richly deserved was her “Runner Up” award at the end of the night.
I was initially quite nervous that Viola Verve’s routine would be a too close a follow up to Velvet Chase, her being adorned in a classic French clown doll attire. However such concerns soon faded as she employed many miming techniques that clearly differentiated her routine from the former. It was equal parts disturbing yet fascinating in the manner she managed to maintain “soulless doll eyes”, which occasionally would transition to softness and sensuality before withdrawing back. It was a clever introvert/extrovert dynamic that a number of people noted.
Lastly Vivienne Von Coffin swanned onto the stage to solo clarinet beat jazz, adorned in purple velvet for an elegant and measured classic burlesque introduction. Before we knew it she was down bare, the tempo was up and a rockabilly tempest was unleased, highly synchronised Go Go moves combined with mock snarls and generous smiles. Vivienne was a very polished in her routine and this was reflected in her taking the Burlesque Idol Tiara for the night – probably a timely leap off point as I think she is clearly making that transition to benchmark performer.
Burlesque Idol will be back again next year, and a wonderful opportunity for the serious amateur to make a concerted footfall on the journey to the professional.