Sunday, 18 July 2010

Ministry of Burlesque High Tease at Lowry Manchester

Hello Guys and Dolls

This week has been largely uneventful, other than possibly the most important/ prestigious performances of my burlesque career so far. I think I need to go into a little back history here for the significance of this event to make sense so bear with me. *Cue Scooby Doo flashback wobbles*

Back in the day I was a singer in an indie rock band, I discovered pretty quickly that the easiest way to get a cheer/ keep the crowds attention was to remove an irrelevant item of clothing every so often, a coat, a scarf etc. I stole my methods of removing my items of clothing from the pin up ladies (and lady boys) in Irvin Klaws films like Tease-o-rama. I knew of burlesque only in the guise of Gypsy Rose Lee and war era variety shows/ strip tease. Many many years later I became aware of the new wave burlesque scene although I thought it only an American phenomenon.

It wasn't until early 2005 that I discovered the UK movement, mainly through discovering The Ministry of Burlesque, whilst looking for pin up models for a photography project. I guess looking back that was an important day for me. As I browsed the site and learnt more I was intrigued. I had long since stopped performing with a band, having found it too hard to co-ordinate diaries with 3 other people. Burlesque presented itself as the most perfect package of creative expression, a way to combine performing, costuming, music and visual theatre. I read everything I could get my hands on, watched a million videos and musicals and I debuted my first solo act later that year. Looking back I was still pretty naive to the intricacies of burlesque then, I never expected it to become such a consuming part of my life.

So in a round about way what I'm trying to say is The Ministry of Burlesque has shaped my life from the first moment google helped me stumble upon it. Burlesque has shaped every aspect of my creative working life and not to mention the amazing friends I have made through it. Herein lies the gravity of being asked to perform for MOB at High Tease Manchester.

I always suffer with crippling nerves before gigs, even after this many years on stage in some form or another. This was the worst ever, I was absolutely petrified. This was compounded by the fact I'd been asked to perform my 'Silent Siren' act, my most choreographically difficult act (involving single foot spins and snap stops in 6" heels!). As a side note, I actually put my 'Silent Siren' act together in the hope of getting booked for high end classic events like High Tease. Another layer of terror was added when I clapped eyes on the venue, I walked across the massive courtyard in front of the Lowry crying 'but it's so BIG and I'm so small!'. Don't get me wrong I've performed in big venues before, I performed in front of 500 + people at my second ever burlesque gig, I've performed Shakespeare in my undies, but I had never done anything like THIS before!

A small relief at least was being on the bill will a few people I know well, Red Sarah (one of the warmest and most encouraging burlesquers about) who I perform with often at Red Rocks and Dr Sketchy's and Dani California, my favourite glitter snail. Although Dani was a mixed blessing as far as my nerves were concerned. We were both performing in the showcase slots (how MOB get to see talent new to them) which is branded as 'The Battle of Burlesque', it is not actually a competition but I was concerned about the audience directly comparing myself and Dani as we both usually perform very different styles of burlesque, but as I was performing my 'Silent Siren' act we were much more on the same page than usual. Dani is a trained ballet dancer and she uses this to most glorious effect in her acts. I am not, and generally my acts are less dance and more vogueing. My 'Silent Siren' act is one of the few where I dance, it uses balletic and ballroom style movement to get the most out of my 1920's style ballroom floats/cape. I'm not sure if the audience did compare us or not, but in the end I was really glad Dani was there, all I remember about our little section of the show was watching Dani, her giving me a hug before I went on and us high fiving after, my actual time on stage is pretty much a blur, although thats possibly due to all the spins!

I'm afraid this blog is really a round up of my experience at High Tease rather than the show itself, I didn't really get to see much with it being a proper theatre show with wings and all. What I did see was great, I particularly enjoyed Red Sarah's Casanova (as always) featuring the new sock garters I made her to hold her knife, and Blanche DuBois dubious tassel! Persia Porzia's bubble act was also captivating reminding me of a 1900's french illustration, I imagine it was amazing from the audiences point of view (a wings view often spoils a reveal). Sadly I didn't get to see either of Kittie Klaw's acts, I look forward to seeing her 'Seaman Thompson' act on video. The musical acts of the evening were a highlight for me actually (possibly because I'd already been on stage and calmed down by that point!) Dolores Delight was a little fire cracker and def an inspiration for my sing and fling performances. Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer was hilarious, cant wait for his next album, history of dance music is genius! Jim Devereaux as 'This is Elvis' was also awesome, his mannerisms and voice are spot on and his jumpsuit had me drooling, I heard they were made by the same tailor as Elvis'!

So there you go, the most important event of my burlesque career so far, I think it went pretty well, I had a great time anyhow and all the MOBsters were blooming lovely. I was proud to sit at the post gig drinks table with such luminaries, def an experience I wont forget.

Here are some piccies from the event by Tip Top Photography, you can see the full set of pics from the whole night on Flickr.



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