Sunday, July 20, 2014

Three years of the Perth International Burlesque Festival

Headed by Adora Derriere and Coco Poppin' from Sugar Blue Burlesque the Perth International Burlesque Festival has been hitting its stride from year one.

This year I would be without Perth locals Agatha Frisky and Kitty Litteur who have escaped the cat race and are tending the stages in Toronto - where I'll soon be joining them!
I arrived Thursday afternoon and flagged down a dapper looking Charlie D.Barkle in a three piece grey suit. He took me to Maylands where one of my hosts, Perrie (Ruby Slippers) was waiting on the sunny porch steps.

With Lulu Liquer at the opening party, photo by David Wooley
Ruby accessorised my dress, adding a fur stole, black gloves, necklace and fancy updo to my vintage black velvet gown.
The opening party was great, a chance to mingle and catch up with friends from all over Australia who had made the trek West to Perth as well as the locals who are always in fine form.
From Lallah Rook we moved on to Devilles nightclub where kareoke was in full swing and Magnus was holding court on stage.
Dumplings at Darlings
We took over Darlings for late night dumplings and drinks and then retired for a thankful night in bed.
I awoke after a short five hour sleep and spent the morning sneaking around the house trying not to wake the Maylands girls. Chat their cat was quick to sense that someone was awake and came out to the kitchen to wail for food.

Chat testing the smoothie
Ruby rose to make me a super super food smoothie of banana, cacao, chia see, milk, yoghurt and bee pollen. She tested me for allergies by insisting I rub the bee pollen on my hand.

Charlie dropped by around 11:30 with a giant cardboard box that Anne and I deconstructed to create a crate, we took a tea break before Anne armed herself and painted in the wood grain.

The Amazing Anne (Flying Wolf Co) at work
My phone was still set to Tasmanian time when I  ran outside to where Anne was enjoying a peaceful moment with a cuppa. I fell to the ground in mock pain  and said dramatically "Oh GOD, I'm due at Tech and we haven't finished." As I said this something clicked and I realised... It was only 1:30 and we had another two hours before I needed to leave. Cue me slinking away to make Anne some more tea.

Almost done!
Tech was finished quickly and I headed to the Fremantle markets where I discovered chocolate macadamia infused coffee. SO good.

Freo market's Coffee Connection
Dark of the Night Cabaret was held at the Fly By Night, a large hall  in Fremantle with a spacious stage and a large backstage area. It was a subdued but happy group of performers that settled in to get ready. We shared a large mirror in the dim area, faces ducking in and out at different angles as make up was applied and hair curled.

Is it lucky to hug a unicorn?
I was debuting a brand new act which was exciting but a bit daunting. The costume is by Zoe Felice and although I'm happy with the first section and received some good feedback, the second section needs some work.
Photo by John Leonard
Photo by John Leonard

Photo by John Leonard

Photo by John Leonard
I huddled over the quinoa salad after performing with a couple of the other performers, the food backstage was impressively good and we shunned the backstage gossip to eat our way through three bowls of salad.

Post performance- eating ALL the good food!

Curtain call! Photo by John Leonard

I skipped the after party and fell into bed, this time I slept a good 8 hours, waking in time to get ready for Coco L'ectrics Kicks and Spins workshop. We grabbed a quick coffee from Uncle Joe's before hitting up King st dance centre.

Yeeeah good signwriting!
Perrie with her honey layer cake
The workshop was excellent, fairly easy choreography but a strong emphasis on musicality and building on simple movement to add complexity.

Kicks and spins!
Charlie was in the class and ran Ruby and I home so I could pick up my costume before heading out to tech at the Astor Theatre.
I was one of the first there and once the two stage kittens arrived took them through the choreography they needed to know for Erte. Casey and Jess were fantastic and took it all in stride.
I ran across to Planet Book where Anne was working and then checked out the local general store where I stocked up on post show food.

Backstage was packed but everywhere there was laughter, jokes, costume appreciation and support.
My wig had previously slipped a bit while performing but I stuck about 30 bobby pins into my hair and it felt fairly solid- and itchy!

Backstage with Coco Lectric
I was feeling confident with my Erte act as tech had gone well but unfortunately by the time the kittens had cleared the stage and ran to where I was standing in the wings, Asher the emcee had finished his intro and the music had began. I told the kittens to just "GO!" and strode out looking calmer than I felt.

Photo by John Leonard
Photo by John Leonard
The girls (I imagine) followed me out and sadly one of the four veils detatched from my neck, but we persevered and after I realised what had happened - I have a clear image of Jess's apologetic face as she raced past me with the detatched fabric- I just kept going and tried to focus on the choreography and the new end.

Curtain call! Photo by Rachael Barrett
 Backstage I hunched over and devoured my hommus leading Bella de Jac to check that I was ok!

When not eating all the hommus I was posing with Virtue Van Tassel
The Afterparty was indecently close, at the bar across the street. Alyssa Kitt held court on a couch (her feet were sore) Bunni and mr Lambada joined us for a while and Ginger Leah Rye perched on the chaise couch.

Posing with Alyssa Kitt and Ruby Slippers
Sarah Park gave Ruby and I a lift back to Maylands and I spent a while scrubbing my face free of the pancake- I had already started deconstructing, removing my eyelashes and hairpins at the bar, a sure sign that I need to go home.

Brunch at Bread in Common with an assorted group of mostly Perth natives. Bread in Common is, funnily enough, a bakery, however they do have a decent gluten free menu. I had the sauteed mushrooms with macadamia nuts and a giant banana smoothie and felt pretty much like the hungry hippo after it's eaten ALL the marbles. Amazing.

C'mon, tell me we don't pull up well!
We checked out the Retro market and then headed to a bar where assorted performers slowly arrived in stages. Most of us were past legible conversation but we tried anyway.
Ruby and I caught yet another lift with the awesome Charlie, back to Maylands where I was force fed a gluten free pizza with SIX different types of cheese, force fed meaning they politely informed me they had ordered me delicious food which made me feel like I just couldn't refuse. (who'd wanna!)
I caught the red eye with the Miss Kitty's Meow girls, it was a full flight and being someone who can't sleep on planes I spent three hours glaring at the seat in front of me and wishing I could sleep like my reclining rowmate. Instead I watched The West Wing, my new favourite binge show, second only to House of Cards.
We arrived in Melbourne at 5:45am and spent the next three hours sitting in massage chairs, wandering the airport, cartwheeling through the halls and - if you're Oopsy Daisy- sleeping on the floor.

Nothing to see here...

Thanks to Mel and Mel and the cast and crew of Sugar Blue Burlesque. You gals (And guys) know how to put on a show!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Taking it all off

It's the middle of winter in Tasmania, I'm talking frosty mornings, dull grey skies and sitting inside watching your breath turn white while your fingernails turn blue.
So, not the best time to be getting naked, in public, while reading or swimming.
But let's not let the cold get in the way of gratuitous nudity.

MONA took care not to offend the sensibilities of the Sunday dog walkers
Reading at NGR- Naked Girls Rock
Photo by CezB photography

Naked Girl's Reading was started in March 2009 by Michelle L'Amour and Frankie Vivid in Chicago. The Tasmanian chapter has been taken on by local burlesque performers Scarlett Jezebel and Velvet Sway. The theme was rock 'n' roll and I was reading two excerpts from The Real Frank Zappa Book.

Backstage with NGR producer Scarlett Jezebel
Picturing your audience naked doesn't seem prudent when you're reading, out loud, naked.
Instead, after settling on my tummy (I thought the audience needed some butt time) I focused on the excerpt I was reading, trying to remember to talk slowly and make the story come alive- Frank Zappa is not without humour and I was reading about groupies giving blow jobs and making plaster casts of band members... members.

Sitting up for the second reading
My copy of Zappa is dog eared and creased because, as I told Richard from Cracked and Spineless during the Q and A section, "I really do like Zappa." Turns out Richard does too but his girlfriend not so much. I told her to persevere, it's an acquired taste like coffee. Maybe.

Q and A session
My ex, Kier who introduced me to Zappa got too many mentions as in the Q and A I got too many questions. Kier also introduced me to ZZ Top, Kier likes all the good music. Happily all my past boyfriends have had good taste in music, I'm yet to date someone who likes crap like Eiffel 65.

Hobart at 6:50... You can just see the lights of Rafael Lazano- Hemmer's articulated Intersect on the right

After the reading came the swimming, the MONA Nude Solstice swim, part of Dark MOFO Winter festival. On Sunday morning 700 nude dickheads in 700 swimming caps took a swim at Sandy Bay's Long Beach- I don't know if the caps were for warmth or to make us more of a homogeneous mass of bottoms.

I had promised to do the swim with my friends Phoebe and Anita, Phoebe is a mate from Melbourne, Phoebe had forgotten how cold it is in Tasmania. I don't think she'll ever forget.

So many of us turned up to swim that we were divided into two groups (those who turned up before 7:20 and those who didn't) the second group stood in a long line, scouring the faces of the first lot looking for hints of pain and shock.
At 7:42am smoke rose, drums steadily beat and the beach was strewn with white towels as the first wave ran into the water. Five minutes later they were out again, gathering at drums of fire placed along the sand.

20 minutes later it was our turn, we marched to a changing room and stripped, men and women, young and old, in my group there seemed to be more young than old, we held our towels around us, more for warmth than modesty and gathered on the beach in front of a crowd of curious onlookers. We didn't have to wait long, the drums started to beat, the flares expelled plumes of orange smoke, I grabbed Phoebe's hand, she grabbed Anita's and screaming like banshees we plunged into the water.

Photo by Bec Fitzgibbon MONA

It was very very cold, we waded out to hip height, once the water was over our hips I plunged my body in, keeping my head out of the water, it was shocking, the kind of shock that makes you wonder how you're still breathing. I struck out to the pontoon, fixated on ignoring the stabbing cold that was eating away at my vagina. After the first minute, the water was bearable except for there! Phoebe and Anita followed suit and shortly after we made it to the buoys, about 50 metres off shore, the signal came to get out again.

Getting out was slower and more difficult than striking out to the buoys but once back on shore we raced to grab a sandy trodden towels and join the huddles at the fire drums.

Getting dressed was also harder but done in double quick time when I realised I had some cash on me for coffee. We gathered to watch the sun rise and talk over the experience, "exhilarating, fucking freezing, let's do it again next year."

Post swim coffee!
Can't mention Dark MOFO without mentioning the laser cats at Faux Mo. I didn't get naked at Afterlife but I figure everyone deserves to know the wonder of Laser cats.


Winter Feast and Ferris Wheel of Death

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Five years of the Australian Burlesque Festival

Five years of applications, acceptances, travel, performance and watching Australia's gorgeous, talented, fiesty performers take it off across the country.

The 2014 ABF poster
I was accepted as a relative newcomer, into Baby Bombshells in 2010, Scarlett Jezebel, then performing as a duo was in the same show and two of my friends, Danica and Daniel traveled with me from Hobart, Daniel had answered his phone to an excited phone call from the University quad after I'd received the email a couple of months before and it was enough of an occasion to warrant an entourage.

The next year the Festival traveled to Hobart's Peacock Theatre, a small ampitheatre space. We had to be quiet backstage as our chatter could be heard from the audience

In 2012 I performed my Sirenes act in the Hobart Playhouse Theatre and then brought the act to Melbourne for Empress Erotique.

Last year Launceston, the small regional city at the top of Tasmania was treated to the Big Tease and I performed my Sirenes act again, by this point I was feeling a need to retire it from my repertoire!

Ormand Hall, photo by B B Le Buff

Now five years on, it was back to Melbourne for the Big Tease at Ormand Hall on St Kilda Rd. I stayed with Scarlett who performed a pared back version of her MBT 2014 unique act in Empress Erotique on the Friday night.

Scarlett and I shared a small box room at the Victoria Hotel on Little Collins where we wedged our bags around the beds and then spent the weekend navigating the small corridors of remaining space.
A morning gym session followed by coffee, then I boarded a train to see Zoe Felice for a costume fitting, her cat providing under the door entertainment while I changed.
A tram trip up Sydney road, to seek Melbourne's worst kept secret, De Jour jeans, a shop packed with stacks of coloured denim. I joined the queue and waited to have the jeans expertly fitted to my body although in the end I just needed the ankles hemmed which took the seamstresses ten minutes to finish!
De Jour jeans
That night Oopsy Daisy and I joined a large, enthusiastic audience for Empress Erotique in Northcote, the rest of the Miss Kitty's Girls were busy being Scarlett's slave girls.
The show was a mix of darker themes with comic acts livening the line up. Fancy Piece were a stand out- the duo danced to rock anthems and paper wigs adorned their heads.

Scarlett Jezebel performing at Empress Erotique
Photo by Ange Leggas
Show morning meant a substantial breakfast in the city with Grace Cherry and a mutual friend. I stoked up my body with an omlette and coffee before heading back to the hotel to rehearse in our cramped hotel room. Tech time was strict so I dragged my massive suitcase onto a tram, for a quick trip down st Kilda road. Danica Lee was there, head mic on, running a smooth rehearsal, figuring out the best lighting and double checking our staging. We were allowed a full run through which was fantastic!

setting up backstage at Ormand Hall

Our backstage area was tiny but well lit with two long mirrors.There were stairs leading directly to the wings with a door separating us from the stage- we were asked to keep our voices down which we tried to attend to but often forgot.

With Oopsy Daisy in our tiny dressing room!
18 performers plus 3 stage kittens crowded into the room before showtime. The show was divided into three sets with 4 acts in each. Bella de Jac looking fabulously decadent in a Zoe Felice costume shouldered her pink bushy boa and flicked off the show with energy and verve- her wig gave new meaning to the Pantene hair flick.

Backstage can be stressful so it's great when everyone works together and is willing to relax and talk, headliner Lada Redstar from Berlin didn't miss a beat when she saw that Evie Red's chin strap had broken a few acts before she was due on stage. She whipped out her sewing kit and attached a hook while Evie finished getting ready. 
Headliner Lada Redstar fixing Evie's broken chin strap
I adore Evie's concept, a nod to Folies Begere girls with their amazing light bulb headdresses!
I was in the second set so managed to steal glimpses of the show from a hallway off to the side. I wasn't the only one...

Perks of working the bar at a burly show!
When it came time to perform I felt nervous but the andrenalin was kicking in, I adopted a haughty smirk and launched into my opening movements feeling every muscle in my fingers stretching stiff and taut as I searched for faces in the audience to connect with.

Photo by Ange Leggas

Photo by Ange Leggas

Photo by Ange Leggas

My act done I retired backstage to spend some time with our international headliners, Lada Redstar and Coco L'ectric. I first met Coco back in 2011 when I was stage kitten at the New Orleans Burlesque Festival. She's the sweetest person and I can't wait to see her again in Perth!

Dolores and Coco with Evie creeping in the background!

Helping Lada attach her incredible head dress
We couldn't see much from the side hallway (though we tried!) and we were told to be backstage for the final set so we could be mustered for the curtain call.

Evie's given up on trying to see what's happening on stage!

Waiting for the curtain call, Miss Kitty's Meow hamming it up!
Show over, I collected a tipsy Scarlett from the audience and headed back to the hotel- not before stopping at Lord of the Fries for a snack. Sweet potato fries you say. Hell yes I say.
It wasn't long after this that my stomach started saying Hell No.

The next morning was the start of a long day. Here's a travel hint from me to you- if you're checking out of a hotel, don't stick around with nowhere to go after show night, by mid morning I felt like a zombie!
I spent the morning with the delectable Evie Red, trading showbo stories, backstage gossip and costume inspiration, she shared her favourite Chapel st cafe where I had a sweet potato and fetta omlette, I loved the decor, bright colours and potted cacti? Yes please!

Coffee at Tyranny of Distance

I spent the afternoon wandering around the city, joyously finding a copy of Martha Gellhorn's Travels with Myself and Another in the bargain basement of Dymocks, then Oopsy joined me for a coffee, Naked Girls and Tinder gossip.
My brother collected me from Victoria, bags and all and whisked me off for dinner on Sydney Road before dropping me with brotherly love and a very reluctant hug at Tullamarine, my flight was- of course in the way that has become normal- delayed but there were screaming children to entertain our ears.

Curtain call at The Big Tease
Photo by Ange Leggas

Review of Big Tease and Empress Erotique by Kathryn Keeble from the Melbourne Observer featuring photo of by Bret Salinger and separate pic of  New Zealand's Kerry Rodda.

Thank you Dolores Daiquiri and Rosy Rabbit for all the hard work and dedication you put in each year to get this festival up and running. I can't imagine the time it takes nor the challenges you face trying to structure each show and choose your performers.
Thanks to Danica Lee who was a great stage manager, efficient and knowing exactly what needed to be done and what the performers needed to know.
Thanks to my fellow performers and to the audience without whom we would be stuck making faces to a mirror or our reluctant partners ("sure honey, that's totally sexy but can you put the feathers away?")
Here's to another 5 years!