Archive for March, 2012

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Adelaide Fringe Review – Sex Pest

If ever there was any doubt of the need for a Benny Hill Perpetual Trophy for Excellence in Comedic Burlesque, then the cast of Sex Pest have made the convincing argument.

Heaven knows there can be a real risk of burlesque taking itself too seriously, especially with a number of “I’m a doyen in musical theatre, darling” reviewers waltzing into Fringe these days making value judgments about burlesque like it was a Gilbert & Sullivan production. We can only be thankful that cantilever productions exist to remind us that funny is sexy too – whether that be gross out funny or thought provoking funny.

Tonight’s performance kicked off with the whole cast prowling the stage like a groucho-marxesque raincoat pervert brigade, complete with novelty liquorice allsorts and accosting a not-so-innocent looking young lady sporting a nasty set of vagina dentata.

Honey B Goode was a stunning figure wrapped in diamanté brilliance and glorious to behold as she seductively unveiled herself shifting effortlessly between curiously coy & confident before indulging in some amusing aquatic exploits worthy of the flatulent 5 year old in us all. A delightful juxtaposition of old world style and low brow humour!

Lallah L’amore proved that every 1950’s housewife enjoys nothing more than having a man inside – at least in terms of her own latent masculinity as a jar of vegemite and a stick of mettwurst proved. Excellent performance.

We were then treated to what I can only describe as a riotous rollercoaster vaudevillian epic through love, lust and infidelity featuring acrobatic techno-sex, hot tangos and more bananas than you can poke a monkey’s bum at.

It was innuendo ahoy with the Gift Box girls in their sexy synchronised go-go extravaganza. Ms Merrill Beth Nisker may have wanted to “Impeach My Bush”, but can I say these girls made their own political statement to Tony Abbott by “Boxing the Jesuit”.

Peachey Dream’s “Oh Mother” presented herself all chiffon and starry eyed while nursing a young bub, heavily pregnant in anticipation of the second on the way. In another wonderful example of “so so wrong but oh so right”, her calm demeanor degenerated into a hot crumping-through-the-contractions dance routine in the deliciously trashiest of leopard print…it only spirals down from there folks, but a happy downward spiral at that.

What followed was a cha-cha charming red sequined sparkling assault, an erotic in your face routine of dance and depravity laden social commentary on censorship, Betty Blood’s merkin fixed tight and her passion well and truly popped by the end.

Lastly Becky Lou proved to be a sexy little pest indeed, in colourful Blue Bottle Blowfly attire (scientifically known as Calliphora vomitoria. Delightful, huh? See – burlesque is nothing if not educational). Poised and perfect, she was soon joined by four buzzing accomplices to a frantic jungle jazz number, where I witnessed my first ever, and maybe the last, fly blown turd conga line.

I need to mention the Pest Control stage hands (including Ms Luna Eclipse), more than just clean-up crew – they were an essential glue that held the acts together, or maybe lubricant to keep things moving? Whatever.

Seriously good fun.  Sex Pest is on for more two nights, Fri 16 March and Sat 17 March at the Nexus Theatre, Lion Arts Centre at 11pm.

Posted by Jonathan on Mar 16th 2012 | Filed in Art,Burlesque,Cabaret,Culture,Events,Reviews | Comments (0)

Adelaide Fringe Review – Anything Goes

It was a delight to see the thoroughly undead Weimar cabaret transvestite Blue Angel materialise back on Earth again as MC. She got the crowd in mood quickly, and with her opening number of “Cigarettes and Chocolate” she captured a later observation of hers “Maybe it is better to be led by our depraved unconscious”.

Cherry Lush was ripe and ready with cabaret standard ‘Mein Herr’ – but rather than have it stand as a cabaret museum piece it was personalised and woven amongst her own tales of rampant teutonic lust.

The guilty pleasure of hardcore stiletto and leather nazi fashion chic was manifested through an imposing Venus Vamp, who like one of Blue Angels lyrical chocolates (with cigarettes!) slowly shed the hard shell over an adagio 1920’s German piano tune to reveal a silky sensuous centre of pure erotic movement.

I never had considered the possibility of Weimar-styled Noh theatre, but Paloma Negra gave an emotionally raw calisthenic performance that projected an energy disproportionate to the minimalism, all over the aching tunes of ‘Wild Is The Wind’.

This was then followed by Mathias the Libidinous who put on the Ritz and put out in a high energy Boylesque strip tease number, that was just as Dandy as his attire.

A good Cabaret needs a good dose of the funnies, and taut and terrific cross-dressing Boylesque performer Lolita La Tex took it to another level by singing a wonderful filk on “Fever” who scratched that itch with the decidedly filthy “Beaver” that left one reaching for the Canestan.

If Jim Morrison were still alive (besides being a DJ in Ibiza) he would no doubt regularly accompany Blue Angel as she showed the that musical poetry of The Doors was lacking until you introduced tap dancing, on “Been Down So Long”. God Damn indeed.

Showing you can’t keep a good man down, especially first thing in the morning, Mithias the Libidinous was back “Feeling Good” with a scarlett silk sheet bed routine that provided the slower sensuality counterbalance to his earlier energetic manifestation on stage, confirming him a performer with good light and shade in his repertoire.

I don’t doubt for a minute that what Cherry Lush wants, Cherry gets – again she personalised the song of “What Lola Wants”, made it hers (unlike some mimed versions I’ve seen this Fringe…) Combined with a gorgeous burlesque disrobing & tease she provided all the necessary sass & fun in bosom loads.

Music choice, people. Nothing shits me more than a bad burlesque musical selection – but I was filled with awe and respect when Lolita La Tex returned resplendent in a funereal noir fan dance done to Tori Amos’s cover of the Joe Jacksons “Real Men”, it worked on so many levels, one of the stand out performances of the night.

Paloma Negra then gave us an intimate performance with Henri, her trapeze bar, herself adorned in a painfully intricate shibari body harness, becoming as one with her hanging companion. A bonded aerial dance, exposed and somehow intimate and private, that made us as voyeurs to something very introspective and soul felt.

Again I was captured musically by Venus Vamps choice of Einsturzende Nebautens “Silence is Sexy” as an embodiment of neo-Weimar sentiment – the nod to the old cloaked in the new. Adorned in stylish, ubergothic vintage splendour, her Dance of Dementia connected to the emotional anguish and swings of emotion of a mind cycling between a violent cacophony of memories and stillness.

As Blue Angel finished with the Brecht/Weill “Alabama Song” – I decided I could do with a whisky or two. My demands for something cutting edge that met the definitions of “Fringe” performance were sated. Show me the way to the next little dollar indeed, Ms Angel – for I am spent.

Anything Goes will be performed 13 March, 14 March & 15 March 2012 at Fowlers Live, 9pm, $23.00.

Posted by Jonathan on Mar 13th 2012 | Filed in Burlesque,Cabaret,Culture,Events,Music,News,People,Reviews,Style,Uncategorized | Comments (0)

Adelaide Fringe Review – Bedazzled Burlesque

Look, this revue is a little late in the piece because I had to think long and hard about what I was going to write in light of other burlesque performances on at the Fringe, and how they compare.

I think we have reached the stage in the Burlesque revival where the stock standard burlesque-cabaret song book is no longer “Fringe” – it is so mainstream it is more Adelaide Cabaret Festival. If I am going to review a burlesque show at Fringe I’m going to apply a different criteria to what I might in another festival. I want, nay, I demand something different to get my attention.

Bedazzled Burlesque was too middle of the road for my tastes. It tried to be naughty at the outset with MC Madam Menage a Trois which unfortunately relied on too many clitoris jokes to which I rapidly became desensitised to and began to rub me the wrong way. At times it seemed like I was watching an old episode on ‘Allo ‘Allo.

The performers underwent numerous name changes in the performance based on character – which I thought was unnecessary and played havoc with my review notes frankly.

The good parts involved a white sequined ‘Marian’ singing a jazzy “Why Don’t You Do Right?” which was sultry & sexy, followed by ‘Carly’ with a cute and snappy bump routine to the tunes of “Big Spender”. Later in the proceedings we had ‘Natalia,’ crop in hand, giving a polished and tight burlesque routine to Madonna’s “Hanky Panky” which I thought was maybe a little too tied to the lyrical content – I would have liked to have seen more interpretative and harmonic movement. Probably the highlight was ‘Sapphire’ strutting to Christine Agiulera’s “Nasty Boy” in the sexiest routine of the night, smouldering and excellent eye contact.

The not-so-good parts was a brass & rockabillty version of “Diamonds are Girls Best Friend” by ‘Marilyn’, which to my mind ramped up the raunch too much and lacked the original Marilyn’s suggestiveness and subtlety. There was a lot of overenthusiastic Americana schtick with a lecherous David doing what I presume was Boylesque to “I’m Too Sexy” which was more like the embarrassing friend dancing drunkenly in a nightclub on the impression it is going to impress the laydeez…. I was left feeling a little empty by ‘Candy’ doing Ertha Kitts “I Want To Be Evil” – that song, sung, mimed or performed to, requires a certain personal projection to be convincing – and unfortunately Candy just looks to ‘nice’ and gentle to fulfil the role of a feline femme fatale man eater.

So there we go.

Maybe I could be more forgiving, but frankly I see other performers jumping the high bar by pushing the boundaries of burlesque/cabaret – and fusing the traditional and contemporary with more conviction. Maybe Bedazzled Burlesque works for corporate function entertainment, but at Fringe, I am left wanting more. Much more.

Posted by Jonathan on Mar 13th 2012 | Filed in Burlesque,Cabaret,Culture,Events,Music,People,Reviews,Style | Comments (0)

Adelaide Fringe Review – Fetish Burlesque

I have to admit- prior to me walking downstairs into the Zhivago nightclub I held great reservations about what Fetish Burlesque was going to be like. The problem with many emerging troupes trying to present a ‘fresh face’ to burlesque is that in the effort to modernise the tradition either they become some self-induglent avante-garde performance that fails to connect to the audience or they lose all the critical nuance that separates burlesque from ‘stripping’.

With no small amount of relief, I think any preconceptions and concerns were comprehensively buried.

If I was going characterise the Fetish Burlesque aesthetic – there is nice mix of Pin Up cross Punkabilly meets Industrial with a healthy nod to Traditional. Ok – eclectic, but it seems to be working for them.

First up on stage was Cookie, who had a devil-may-care attitude to suit her horns and 6 inch stilettos. Rhythmically she was very tight with the music, which tended to show off her technique with some innovative flourishes – the use of old vinyl records for a fan routine was clever. Her second performance in surgical greens eviscerating a male blow up patient of his vital organs definitely swung between erotic & high camp in a wonderful Andy Warhol Flesh For Frankenstein sort of way.

Scarlett Siren showed a definite versatility as she tore up the floor with Pulp Fiction rocking style before a nice transition into some sexy shimmering and Mo-town groove to the tunes of “Preacher Man”. Testify! Her second routine later in the night had electro-swing sensibilities, teases of belly dance even, that really convinced me that she had a well rehearsed sense of ebb & flow matched with the timing of a metronome.

Lady Vixen hammered the horror gorelesque approach as a velvet clad vampiress, lot of hand sweeps and cool menace that brought back memories of my days amongst Sydney goth clubs in the 90’s. Continuing some noir nostalgia, her second act was a murderess post-carnage with MacBethian style and knife play, which while theatric probably highlighted the risk of these routines. I think you can play them two ways – either hamming them up by juxtaposing horror with hilarity, or go completely into character and project the extremity of emotional trauma. But these routines I felt were a little too introverted, and burlesque really demands that demanding high level connection to the audience. The material is there, maybe just a tweak to the executions (hah!).

Dezzie Damned Art Deco Stylin’

The last performer to mention is Dezzie Damned, a heavily inked & elegant Pin Up Girl extraordinaire I’m sure has been stripped off the side of a B-52 Bomber or Lancaster Dambuster, such is the fire power she carries. Bustle-dressed and immaculate elegance, she performed cool controlled jazz-sass moves to “Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend” that slid into the Amphlett anthem of “Touch Myself” as she cranked up the heat. Even when she raunched things up considerably in her second act, in a tight sequin skulled corset Baron Samedi would approve of, replete with ball gag and scourge (with random acts of bibliomantic blasphemy) – something that characterised her style was that it was always unrushed, using slow measured tease and anticipation that ticks all the right boxes for burlesque. I think she has succeeded here in melding the traditional art with contemporary smarts, by no means an easy thing to do I am coming to believe.

Fetish Burlesque have one more performance this Fringe Festival on Thursday 8 March 2012 @ 7.30pm, Zhivago Nightclub, 54 Currie Street, Adelaide. $25.00

Posted by Jonathan on Mar 4th 2012 | Filed in Burlesque,Cabaret,Culture,Events,News,People,Reviews,Style,Uncategorized | Comments (0)