Archive for March, 2012

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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)

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