At last we bring you Part Two of our Regional Burlesque Guide. This month we have for your delight and delectation guides on London, South East, South West, East of England, Ireland and Wales brought to you from friends of Burlesque Bible both old and new. Who says the gifts have to end with Christmas?!
Burlesque in London with Kiki Kaboom
Big Names – Miss Polly Rae, Kitty Bang Bang, Luna Rose, Fancy Chance, Banbury Cross
Hot Spots - Boom Boom Club, La Reve (Cafe de Paris) and Bete Noire (Madame JoJo’s), The Double R Club, Burlesque in Your Kitchen, Proud Galleries, Camden, Volupte Lounge
Ones to Watch - Ginger Blush, Betsy Rose, Crimson Skye, Burlexe
Classes - Jo King and the London Academy of Burlesque, The Cheek of It, Missy Fatale
The burlesque scene in London is huge, and teeming with talent. What I love about the circuit today is the crossover of skills and influences from the worlds of burlesque, cabaret, variety and circus, all informing and shaping the performers living and working here. London acts are so varied, from sizzling Vegas-style striptease to blazing satirical and political neo-burlesque. From character comedy and cabaret, to live vocals and vintage aesthetics, with pyrotechnics, aerial, ballet, clown and everything else sprinkled in between – right now it seems the only limit is your imagination. There is a staggering variety of nights and venues to choose from as an audience member, be you seasoned aficionado, alternative thrill-seeker or burlesque virgin. With this wealth of choice some venues do struggle sometimes, so I think it’s important the performers they employ fight to keep the good ones going. And while some may balk at the inexorable rise of burlesque and cabaret into mainstream culture, in my opinion, it’s a really exciting time to be working in this industry.
There are so many fantastic burlesque artists based here, it is really hard to only pick a handful. Amber Topaz, Vicky Butterfly, Roxy Velvet, Audacity Chutzpah, Laurie Hagen, Missy Fatale, Beatrix Von Bourbon, Agent Lynch, Cherry Shakewell, and many, many more – all performers and producers I admire and love to watch, but there simply isn’t room to mention them all in detail here. Here are just a selection of a few Big Names, and a couple of Ones to Watch.
Miss Polly Rae – you can’t mention burlesque in London without acknowledging the work of its international breakout star, Miss Polly Rae. Her Hurly Burly Show took London’s West End by storm in 2011 and she is now teasing audiences Down Under with a run of shows in Sydney. The Hurly Burly Show started out years ago as a small burlesque cabaret in the former Soho Revue Bar (now The Box), and it’s down to her passion, vision, hard work and determination that she is now – rightly so – a superstar. London should be very proud of her. http://www.misspollyrae.com/
Kitty Bang Bang - Kitty is an amazing performer. One of those can’t-take-your-eyes-off-her ladies. One of the best, if not the best, dancers on the circuit, her acts are always beautifully choreographed, spunky, sassy, sexy, often quite literally on fire, and always with her trademark rock and roll edge. Plus, the lady can drink most people under the table. Big in London, big in Europe and I have no doubt, soon to be big all over the world. Which for such a small person is no mean feat. http://www.kittybangbang.com/
Luna Rosa - Aaaaah Luna. She is an absolute beauty. The epitome of sleazy exotica. She has carved out a niche for herself that is all her own; her acts are distinctive, hypnotic, detailed and hot as HELL. http://www.exoticlunarosa.com/
Fancy Chance – I effing LOVE Fancy. She is completely and delightfully crackers. Hailing from the US but having made London her home, the lady has some serious striptease skill, but she also is the inventor of some of the most hilarious, clever and original acts it has ever been my pleasure to watch. She is a burlesque terrorist clown beyond compare, and is never anything less than brilliantly entertaining.http://fancychance.wordpress.com/
Banbury Cross - London’s very own blazing blonde bombshell! Banbury’s star has been rising steadily at home and abroad and she is constantly in demand throughout Europe. Her acts are always glittering with panache, beautifully costumed and brimming with sex appeal. A fierce presence on the international stage.http://missbanburycross.com/Banbury_Cross/About.html
Unsung Heroes – every last amazing bloody techie that enables us performers to get on stage and do our thing. I really feel that those backstage never get enough recognition for what they do. Invariably they are only ever noticed if they get anything wrong, but without these people we’d all be dancing in the dark. Without music. Or a chair. Ha! Often in the London clubs they have to do the work of what should be a team of people (Stage manager-cum-pick-up-person-cum-sound-engineer-cum-lighting-supervisor-cum-payment-authoriser – sound familiar anyone?), and don’t get the thanks they deserve. So to Sean, Taz, Amory, Andy, Jake, Rhian, Maud, Kirsty, Paul, Matt and every other backstage worker in London – this one’s for you: thank you.
Boom Boom Club – from its beginnings at the Proud Galleries a few years ago, to a riotous 2 year run at The Bathhouse, to storming Bestival 2011 and now a sell-out run of shows at The Old Vic Tunnels, Boom Boom Club is trail-blazing, hell-raising cabaret gold. http://boomboomclub.co.uk/
La Reve (Cafe de Paris) and Bete Noire (Madame JoJo’s) – the producers of these shows consistently programme the best burlesque and cabaret in town, week in, week out. It’s always a pleasure to perform at their nights. http://lareve.co.uk/
The Double R Club – twisted Lynchian cabaret, dark and surreal, with cutting-edge, racy performances. Testament to the love, hard-work and vision of the producers, Rose Thorne and Benjamin Louche. The Double R Club on facebook
Burlesque In Your Kitchen, Proud Galleries, Camden – appreciative, outgoing and open-minded audiences – often with the fabulous, potty-mouthed Ophelia Bitz at the helm – lovely staff, great food, and a fun, relaxed atmosphere.http://www.proudcamden.com/kitchen
Volupte Lounge - one of the first burlesque supper clubs, Volupte is decadent, intimate and serves some exquisitely naughty cocktails. They run a huge variety of shows 5 nights a week and on weekend afternoons, programming burlesque, live music, cabaret, magic and circus. A venue where many a performer gets their first break, it is invariably a treat to come back to. http://www.volupte-lounge.com/
Ones to Watch
Ginger Blush - I love le Ginge! Her routines are consistently inventive, engaging, elegant and funny. London Burlesque Week’s Best Newcomer of 2010, she stormed the festival a year later with her tribute to Elizabeth 1st, and deserves to be huge in 2012. http://www.gingerblush.com/
Betsy Rose - Betsy is an absolute dream of a girl, a vintage beauty through and through, and a simply gorgeous performer. She is quickly rising through the burlesque ranks and she is already established on the European scene. I only call her one to watch because I think she is about to go stellar. And she is also the latest Hurly Burly Girly recruit in Polly’s show. http://www.missbetsyrose.com/
Crimson Skye - Crimson’s back baby! While Crimson is in fact one of the most experienced performers on the circuit, having began her career as a burlesque performer back in 2005, she took some time out from the scene but is now back with a crash, bang and an almighty wallop. Look out especially for her one-woman show this year – ‘Death Row Diva: the Final Account of Crimson Skye’ which debuted at the Lowry in August 2011. http://www.crimsonskye.co.uk/
Burlexe - not a performer but a new concept for burlesque performance, in the context of a narrative theatrical show. Created by Howard Wilmot and based on the the true stories of the incredible women who created burlesque (and of those currently working in the burlesque and striptease industries) it is a combination of stories, song and tease. Burlesque performers currently acting in the production include myself, Fancy Chance and Luna Rosa, but there is a rotating list of special guest burlesque stars who perform their acts in the show. After 5 sell-out performances last year, Burlexe now has a monthly Soho residency so watch this space! http://burlexe.posterous.com/
Jo King and The London Academy of Burlesque – Sadly, Jo has left the UK to shimmy on the shores of Spain, but she does occasionally travel back to teach. If you can get an hour or two with this woman, grab the chance. She is burlesque royalty with over 30 years of teaching experience, and her past pupils read like a roll-call in British Burlesque (Polly, Luna, Audacity, Crimson and myself, to name but a few!) The school currently run a fantastic range of Party Pieces, tailor-made for hen and birthday parties, and taught by her specially selected teachers. http://www.londonacademyofburlesque.com/
The Cheek of It - has a good reputation in London, for classes, courses and hen parties. Recent graduates include Hotcake Kitty (one of the stars of the Evening of Burlesque UK theatre tour) Shirley Windmill and Tabitha Taboo (both Newcomer winners at London Burlesque Week last year). http://www.thecheekofit-burlesque.com/
Lastly, Missy Fatale runs a great Burlesque Siren course, as well as being a swing dance teacher par excellence! http://missyfatale.com/
With a very special thank you to the lovely Banbury Cross
Burlesque in the South West with Missy Malone
Big Names - Keda Breeze, Fifi Fatale, Missy Malone
Hot Spots – Coco Boudoir (Bath), Hoochie Coochie (Bristol), Kinky & Quirky (Torquay) Ministry of Burlesque’s High Tease (Bath) Missy Malone & Friends Burlesque Revue (Cheltenham)
Ones to Watch – Alexandra Hofgartner, Dolly Rose
Burlesque Schools/Classes – Pink Kitten Dance School (Bristol) Missy Malone Fandance Workshop (Cheltenham)
Since I moved from Edinburgh to Cheltenham 4 years ago the South West scene has definitely grown and expanded a lot. There were only a couple of shows in Bath and Bristol and not many South West based performers at that time. It is still a relatively small scene when compared to other areas of the UK but it is producing some truly wonderful shows. When I moved to Cheltenham there was no burlesque whatsoever! I was determined to introduce this area to quality burlesque and so far all the shows and workshops I have produced in the last two years have sold out, so there is a real hunger in this, region that’s for sure!
Keda Breeze has a CV that many burlesque performers would envy, not only has she shared a stage with the one and only Dita Von Teese and performed around the world to critical acclaim she is also an astute business woman who runs the ever popularHoochie Coochie Kabaret and the Pink Kitten Dance School, both in Bristol.http://kedabreeze.co.uk/
Fifi Fatale is a beautiful, glamorous showgirl who can boast a recommendation from 80s pop sensation Adam Ant! Fifi is both a burlesque dancer and a model and has been performing since 2008; she performs all over the UK and is a regular at Proud Camden. http://www.fififatale.com/
Missy Malone - With seven years of burlesque experience, I have been fortunate enough to share the bill with such big names as Kitten De Ville, Dirty Martini, Kitten on the Keys, Mimi Le Meaux and Immodesty Blaize. I also toured with The Damned as part of their Twisted Cabaret tour in 2007 and now have my very own show The Missy Malone & Friends Burlesque Revue which tours Theatres around the UK, to sell out success! www.missymalone.co.uk
Coco Boudoir is a bi-Monthly Burlesque and Cabaret event at Chapel Arts, Bath that has attracted such big UK names as Vicky Butterfly and Beatrix Von Bourbon. The night is all about glamour and sophistication so dress to impress. For more information about upcoming events visit their Facebook page
High Tease is a show of exceptionally high standards put on by the internationally renowned and well respected Ministry of Burlesque.http://komediabath.ticketsolve.com/shows/9127958/events
Hoochie Coochie Kabaret is the brain child of Bristol’s Keda Breeze. The night includes a wide variety of burlesque, circus and cabaret entertainment from around the country, as well as the option for dinner and an After Party if you are not ready for bed and feel like dancing into the wee, small hours. http://www.hoochiecoochiekabaret.com/
Missy Malone & Friends Burlesque Revue – as I said before, when I moved to the South West there was little option for the burlesque enthusiast and I was determined to change that, bringing a unique brand of burlesque to the region with my own show.http://www.missymaloneandfriends.com/
Kinky & Quirky – If you think Devon is nothing but a sleepy holiday location, think again! Mark and Sarah Bell have been working tirelessly for years to bring the best of burlesque to the South West and 2012 promises to be an amazing year for Kinky and Quirky with big names, big events and lots of fun! http://www.kinkyandquirky.com/K—Q—Events.html
Ones to Watch
Alexandra Hofgartner is a captivating performer and a skilled aerialist. I predict big things for her in 2012! http://www.alexandrahofgartner.com/
Miss Dolly Rose hails from the Wild West, where she began performing in 2008. She has since flown the coop to blossom in the bright lights of London town. Dolly brings a charming combination of old school glamour with a touch of innocent humour to her performances. For more information go to her facebook page
Pink Kitten Dance School was founded by Keda Breeze in 2004 and provides classes in burlesque, pole dancing, circus skills and boylesque! http://www.pinkkittendanceschool.com/
Missy Malone Fandance Workshop/ Missy Malone and Leyla Rose Burlesque Workshops – I run regular workshops and we can be hired for special events. Boys are welcome but you will have to get stuck in – no watching! www.missymalone.co.uk www.missymaloneandfriends.com
Burlesque in the South wih Miss Cherry Pop
Big Names - Joe Black, Lottie Bon Bon, Beulah Bell, Domino Burlesk
Hot Spots - The ‘House of Burlesque’ The Kings Theatre, Divine Decadence, Retro Bombshell Burlesque
Ones to Watch – Alabama Love, Miss Ruby Rebelle, Anathema.
Classes – Burlesque Star: Portsmouth, Retro Bombshell Burlesque: Bournemouth, The Art of Motion: Southampton.
Who ever said that seaside towns were sleep is sorely mistaken! Over the last 5 years burlesque has wound its way through to the deepest southern tip of the UK, grabbing our imagination and our hearts. From cheesecake cabaret to dark vaudeville the scene is teeming with variety to accommodate the ever growing audiences hooked on the risqué thrills and productions once only ever found in big cities! I am proud to have seen, over the years, so many performers excelling in their art form. Long live the bohemian thrills and the dream of running away to our very own circus!
Joe Black is in a league of his own. Portsmouth’s neo-vaudevillian, real life Disney villain, the gin-addled courtesan, the anti-christ of cabaret and the one and only waltzing cynic…Captivating enjoyable filth… People come from far and wide to see this charismatic eccentric entertainer! Seemingly unable to fit into any particular category, Joe defies description and has taken to stages across the world. http://www.misterjoeblack.com
Lottie Bon Bon is a buxom British Burlesque performer that firmly has her heels in the creative world. Lottie Bon Bon performs her inventive, tongue in cheek acts with gusto and guarantees value for money. Prepare to be entertained by her creative concepts which combine the traditions of the great British comedy with her innovative and original style. Think quintessential postcard humour meets Marilyn Monroe; funny but sexy! My personal all time favorites are The Queen, Mrs Lovett and Attack of the killer trouser snake from Mars! Lottie’s Facebook page
Beulah Bell – The delectable Southern belle Miss Beulah Bell’s classic yet cheeky look makes her the perfect Burlesque showgirl! Teamed with over 10 years dance & drama performance experience she lights up the stage & captivates the audience! Performing all over London & the UK with venues including – Volupte, Madam JoJo’s, Southampton Guildhall and Café De Paris to name a few. 2011 was a massive success for Beluah and with a recent television debut, what a fantastic start to 2012! She has been dubbed ‘the closest thing ever found to a real life sparkle in human form!’
Domino Burlesk guides you through a decadent and magical realm, an ethereal and intoxicating world of evocative stories and cautionary tales. A dark, elegant dream world full of secret chambers, exotic lairs and smoke filled opium dens. Originally from Vancouver and with a history in the performing arts she draws on her passion for the exotic and the unusual, theatrics and olde-world glamour. http://www.dominoburlesk.com/
The ‘House of Burlesque’ The Kings Theatre, Portsmouth. Joe Black hosts his own sell out residency in the lavish Edwardian Kings Theatre, in Hampshire and is, without doubt, a true pioneer in Vaudeville entertainment. Also, if you get the chance, do check out The Villains Show where mister Black teams up with avant-garde artiste Mr Pustra. Set in the dirty streets of Berlin, Sideshows of Coney Island, numerous graveyards and other unspeakable locations, Villains is utterly charming and irresistibly dark, with stunning ‘Tim Burton-esque’ styled illustrations, hair-raising songs and deliciously black humour. A visual feast for all. http://www.kings-southsea.com
Divine Decadence is a fabulous, brand new cabaret spectacular brought to you by the producers of the highly acclaimed A Night of Lamour. They bring you the cream of professional burlesque and cabaret performers in beautiful and sumptuous surroundings. Your evening will be hosted by the sensational burlesque compereDivine Miss Em, whose West End musical experience and cabaret performances around the world guarantee a slick and sassy evening. For more information and booking. www.volupte-lounge.com
Retro Bombshell Burlesque has hosted an array of sell out shows in Bournemouth over the past 3 years. From The Vaudeville Circus, The Burlesque Blitz, Hollywood Sirens and The Butterfly Ball just to name a few, they effortlessly show off local talent and the very best of UK burlesque, bringing magical surroundings and a very late license keeping you glued to the dance floor, jump jiving to the sound of the big band and swing dj. www.retrobombshell.com
The Hop Garden Burlesque and Cabaret Show are all set to bring another hugely succesful event to Canterbury hosted by a woman who will make you feel gloriously giddy, Miss Daisy Champagne. It will be held at The Ballroom, Orange Stree 16th February 2012 7.30pm. Best dress competition and free 30 minute burlesque lesson before the show! For more info visit their Facebook page
High risqué Southampton’s newest production is a collective of like minded burlesque performers, promoting a positive image of burlesque showcasing the many talents of the group and their friends in the entertainment field… They also collaborate with The Art of Motion and so debuting new talent and unique group performances. ‘’We aim to provide a night that’s fun, full of variety and involves the audience in the process of creating a great show with cabaret, belly dance, comedy, magic, singing and so much more.’’ For more info go to their Facebook page
Proud Brighton Ballroom is a seductive speakeasy in a small but perfectly formed venue at Brighton Ballroom. Proud puts on a weekly supper club with cocktails and great tunes to follow. Hosted by the wonderful Paul Roberts and featuring mesmerising perfomers such as local girl Chi Chi Revolver, and the gorgeous Annette Bette, if you are looking for a night of intimate sophistication this is definitely one not to be missed. http://www.brightonballroom.com/
Ones to watch
I predict great things from the sensational Alabama Love she has already excelled in creativity and style producing slick and amusing acts!
It’s also hard not to notice the delectable Miss Ruby Rebelle with her fire breathing buxom vaudeville beauty. For more info go to her Facebook page
Last, but no means least, the ‘head to toe’ tattooed sultress that is Anathema… with show stopping ideas, she really is the poetic, storytelling, burlesque performing daughter of earth.
With a school in every town you would be hard pushed not to find a creative hub to explore your burlesque desires, here are a handful of local schools:
Burlesque Star: Portsmouth. Maria Bentley has been teaching in the Fitness/Dance industry for 18 years, qualified as a Dance Teacher at Brighton University. Her knowledge and experience sets her apart, teaching techniques to strengthen and train everyday beginners to advance performers. Her classes are fun and sassy! http://www.fitnessstar.tv/
Retro Bombshell Burlesque: Bournemouth most exciting and risqué academy for aspiring burlesque artists. Classes for beginners, improvers through to specialist master classes. From silk fan dancing to military marching – diversity really sets them apart. Finding people’s niche and drive to learn a new skill can only produce confident, curious students with a passion to learn more. www.retrobombshell.com
The Art of Motion: Southampton. Trained belly dancer Midnight Iris believes that it is the best way for newcomers to be introduced to the story telling and the sultry pantomime that are most striking parts of modern burlesque. She also teaches basic dance skills and builds on the complexity of choreography in more advanced classes so that students become more skilled dancers with training that they can take to any style, not just burlesque. www.midnight-iris.com
You can contact Miss Cherry-Pop on facebook
Burlesque in the East with Cherry and Ruby
Hot Spots – Salon Rouge, The Neon Moon and Cabaret Club, No Strings Cabaret & Burlesque show.
Big Names – Cherry and Ruby, The Hot Boppin Girls
Ones to Watch – Harlow Heartbreak, Paul Preston Mills, Dolly Go-Tightly, Ginger Snaps.
Classes - Cherry and Ruby, Burlesque Norwich.
The Burlesque scene in the East has flourished over the past few years giving rise to many shining stars! The beautiful old cities of Norwich and Cambridge have played host to a swathe of international burlesque and variety luminaries with gorgeous atmospheric venues such as old churches, theatres and working men’s clubs being restored to their former glory and put to good use!
The Hot Boppin Girls are a professional burlesque theatre troupe based in Norwich (London Burlesque Festival Prize winners 2009). With their own special brand of 1950s housewife chic, join this heavenly trio as Lady Penelope Muck whips her naughty prodigies, Miss Dolly Bird and Miss Dotty Divine into shape on the road to domestic bliss. http://www.hotboppingirls.com/
Cherry and Ruby are a candy-cute British Burlesque pin-up double act specialising in sumptuous themed striptease and costumed character walkabout. Performing widely in the UK and beyond they also have a monthly residency at the sell out Salon Rougeand are founding members of the Neon Moon Burlesque and Cabaret Club. The girls also perform as solo artists Ruby Truelove and Cherry Go-Round. “Cute basques, corsetry and costumes… and they are sweet lovely girls in person too…” Immodesty Blaize. “Ooh Frisky!” Davina McCall. www.cherryandruby.co.uk
Salon Rouge in Cambridge is the region’s premier burlesque and variety night. Running for 3 years each event has sold out and it has been Pick of the Week in The Guardian and on The Times online Top 10 clubs. Past artists have included Empress Stah, Marawa the Amazing, Anna Fur Laxis, Dusty Limits, Fancy Chance, Millie Dollar, Bearlesque, Missy Malone, Kitty Bang Bang, Beatrix Von Bourbon, Vicky Butterfly, Kiki Kaboom and many more and on 21st January they have “untamed glamour from the Arctic” with European showgirl Lou Lou D’Vil flying in. www.junction.co.uk
Cirque Elan presents The Neon Moon Burlesque and Cabaret Club! A live, vaudevillian cabaret show at the subterranean luxury cocktail lounge Hidden Rooms, Cambridge. Themed for your inspiration! Music is eclectic vintage and the Dress Code is exquisite retro – Dress as your alter ego and let your imagination fly!www.theneonmoonclub.com
No Strings Cabaret & Burlesque Show is Norwich’s first and finest variety, vaudeville and burlesque event hosted by Hocus Pocus Theatre at the Norwich Puppet Theatre. They also host Boogaloo a hot and hip Burlesque Club night at Norwich Arts Centre where the emphasis is on dancing to great music from vintage vinyl DJs, interspersed with dazzling shows from the best burlesquers in the bizz!http://www.nostringsburlesque.co.uk/
Ones to watch
Harlow Heartbreak is Salon Rouge’s resident walkabout and stage artist, she is also a photographer, and is based in Cambridge. Check out her facebook page
Paul Preston Mills is a delightful dandy, compere and entertainer extraordinaire. http://www.myspace.com/paulprestonmills
Dolly Go-Tightly can be found in Cambridge strutting her stuff at Salon Rouge. Join their open group on facebook
Ginger Snaps - is No Strings resident walkabout and stage artist, based in Norwich.http://www.nostringsburlesque.co.uk/
Cherry and Ruby offer bespoke Burlesque dance and Retro-Fit classes and parties privately and across venues in Cambridge, Bury St. Edmunds and Newmarket. Seewww.cherryandruby.co.uk for details.
Burlesque Norwich prides itself on offering the highest quality burlesque workshops, classes, courses, & tuition in the Norwich area.
The tutors are prize winning industry professionals, with performing arts degrees and over 15 years combined teaching experience. http://www.burlesquenorwich.co.uk
Linda Hadaway - beautiful bespoke, vintage inspired costumes and accessories. Visit her facebook page
With special thanks to Eddie Barcan at Salon Rougeeddiebarcan@splendidevents.demon.co.uk
Burlesque in Wales with Betty Blue Eyes
Big Names – Sandy Sure, Foo Foo La Belle, Lilly Laudanum, Lady Lollipop, Pretty
Hot Spots - The Bluestocking Lounge, Burlesque Cardiff, Angel Delites, Academy of Burlesque and Cabaret
Ones to Watch – Miss Primrose Proper, Bella Bambina, Scarlet Blush, Katie Von Cupcake, GiGi Sextone and Poppy Vanguard
Classes – The Revue Studios, Burlesque Cardiff, Academy of Burlesque and Cabaret, Ruby Room
My first experience of burlesque was in my hometown of Cardiff, the Capital city of Wales, a look through the tantalising keyhole of a ‘What the Butler Saw’ night hosted by the lovely Miss Lady Lollipop. These were, and continue to be, regular nights in Cardiff held at a variety of different venues including Migi’s, Minksy’s Showbar, The Glo bar until they finally found their home at The Globe, a unique music venue that still retains the charm of its previous life as a cinema with a modest proscenium arch stage and wide balcony and baroque decoration. A dark and brooding venue which fits well with Butler’s resident band Johnny Cage & the Voodoo Groove band and it’s variety of guest burlesque performers. www.thevoodoogroove.com
Ten years ago burlesque in Wales was very much in its infancy, a shy and unassuming creature that now and again stepped fleetingly into the spotlight, a few sporadic cabaret and burlesque nights popping up at different venues throughout Wales with the occasional visiting companies making an appearance. But over the years burlesque in Wales has grown in confidence and has gained a fierce appetite that has nurtured and produced some fantastic, innovative and creative home-grown and adopted performers.
Sandy Sure is a blonde bombshell who brings vibrant characters to life through narrative dance routines that are deliciously glamorous and delightfully funny. Her exquisite custom made costumes, crafted by her own fair hand are a feast for the eyeswww.mydelilahburlesque.com
Foo Foo La Belle is a classically trained dancer with over 15 years of performing experience, Foo Foo is especially known for her en-pointe routines, her performances are alternatively humorous, erotic, cheeky and dark. http://www.foofoolabelle.co.uk/Welcome_to_my_World/Home.html
Lilly Laudanum. Playful parodies and gory stories are Lilly’s speciality. Filled with dark and eloquent humour, flamboyance and a flavour of Victoriana, her narratives take the audience on a spectacular alternative burlesque adventure.
Lucy Purr is dark, seductive and inventive. Lucy is a lady with a mysterious presence who captivates audiences with her elegant retro looks and distinct tales.
Lady Lollipop is the epitome of elegance, splendour and beauty, Lady Lollipop’sdelicious cheesecake routines and glamorous performances dazzle all.
Pretty S’vere is a trained dancer, Pretty is a qualified Ministry of Burlesque teacher and runs classes in and around Cardiff. Her burlesque style is a wonderful mix of choreography and theatrical comedy. She is also founder of, and performs with, The Follie Dollies, a Cabaret & Burlesque Troupe who present annual shows in and around Cardiff and perform throughout the UK.
The Bluestocking Lounge based in Swansea are a production company that produce spectacular shows bringing internationally renowned performers to South Wales. Headed by producer and resident artist Lilly Laudanum along with assistant producerDeeDee DeLa Rouge, each show features stalwarts of the burlesque circuit along with the best of Welsh talent and great slots for newcomers to the burlesque scene.Bluestocking Lounge runs two types of shows: bi-monthly nights in Swansea – now residing in the city’s historic Grand Theatre, a fabulous evening that boasts an open, friendly and informal atmosphere that attracts audiences both old and new. In addition, Bluestocking run a more formal theatre-style show annually at Carmarthen’s Lyric Theatre. www.bluestockinglounge.com
Burlesque Cardiff is a production company and community dance group devised and led by artistic director Miss Foo Foo La Belle. Foo Foo produces four large themed burlesque shows every year in Cardiff which often include a glittering array of comedians, guest performers, musicians, bands, pole dancers, poets and variety performers. In addition to the show there are always stalls filled with burlesque accessories, jewellery and vintage clothes. Burlesque Cardiff nights are full of fanciful fun with a clad iron following who always turn up in their best dressed burlesque apparel. December this year offers an evening of Victorian steam powered splendour in its Steam Punk show. La Belle Époque Club, Cardiff Burlesque’s professional burlesque touring show, visits a wide variety of venues across the UK showcasing some of its best talent. www.burlesquecardiff.com
Burlesque for Social Good – The Angel De-Lites are a South Wales based troupe that have formed a social enterprise to enable them to continue to put on charity burlesque shows, perform at existing events and provide burlesque workshops to community groups such as those living with cancer, survivors of domestic violence, sensory impairments and transgender groups to name a few. The 4 piece troupe made up ofDidi Curve, Honey Holiday, Lady Moon Buns and Miss Red have been performing since 2009/10, helping raise money for charity and so far have helped raise over £16k for various charities and were VIP fundraisers for Tenovus and Real Radio in Oct/Nov 11.www.angeldelites.co.uk
Ones to Watch
And not forgetting up and coming newbie performers to name but a few among the fantastic talent that is emerging from the rolling Welsh hills. Miss Primrose Proper and Bella Bambina are two gorgeous and exciting new burlesque starlets based in Swansea who have burst onto the scene with zest and vigour.
Cardiff has a plethora of delicious talent including Katie Von Cupcake, a dark and sultry performer with a sprinkle of gothic punk, GiGi Sextone who blends song with burlesque tease reminiscent of the golden age of caberet, Poppy Vanguard, the bright eyed beauty who seduces her audience with a mere smile and a wiggle and not forgetting the wonderful Scarlet Blush whos routines are expertly crafted into unique and imaginative narratives.
In Wales the burlesque scene and its community is strong with a large and ever growing audience of avid followers. Over the years a number of established producers have emerged to help burlesque take centre stage and is home to a vibrant hub of companies and teachers:
Lilly Laudanum and DeeDee collectively known as The Bay Belles; a fantastic double act with a talent for comedy and satire, run regular classes at The Revue Studios which include a 6-week beginners class, one-day taster sessions, pastie making workshops, bra embellishment workshops and other burlesque-related classes. In addition international performers who are in town for the bi-monthly Bluestocking Lounge shows hold master classes in disciplines such as fan dance, balloon dance and classic tease. What more could a girl want? http://www.revuestudios.co.uk/
In addition to shows, Foo Foo Labelle runs workshops and classes in Cardiff that are open to ladies of all ages and backgrounds, teaching the art of the Classic Burlesque, to those who are ready (and willing!) to become an eclectic band of show girls and chorus dancers, some who then go on to become soloists. Cardiff Burlesque is a great collective community and also offers a great burlesque night out. www.burlesquecardiff.com
Academy of Burlesque and Cabaret, run by Gypsy Charms and Viva Misadventure, has led the UK’s burlesque teaching revolution, teaching burlesque in the UK since 2005 and working with National Dance Centres nationwide, as well as previously working as MoB (Ministry of Burlesque) Academy. Viva Misadventure, a new addition to the talent collective in Wales, now residing in Cardiff she offers classes teaching the staples of posing, peeling, teasing and character work, learning to pose like Marilyn Monroe, peel like Gypsy Rose Lee, tease like Immodesty Blaize and discover that inner diva, femme fatale, comedian or ‘bad girl’ – all in a day’s work for a budding burlesque artist! Viva’sclasses span Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and the surrounding areas, offering brand new six-week burlesque beginners courses and drop in day workshops alongside burlesque, showgirl, can-can and fan dance hen parties across Wales and the UK. www.burlesqueandcabaret.com
Mid and North Wales
And it doesn’t stop there……….from the far reaches of West Wales where the Ruby Room produced by the lovely Titty Amore presents annual burlesque shows to mid and North Wales, burlesque is exploding into the limelight with sheer gusto. The burlesque scene in Wales is still gaining momentum and has built a stoic presence both at home and in the UK through its home-grown talent and production companies. The future is bright as March next year heralds Wales’ first ever Burlesque Festival collaboration between Cardiff Burlesque and Bluestocking Lounge. One thing is for certain, when it comes to burlesque, Wales is definitely not a corner of the world to be over looked.
Diolch yn fawr! Betty xx
For more about Betty Blue Eyes go to her website www.missbettyblueeyes.co.uk
Burlesque in Ireland with Roxy Rhinestone
Big names Mz Epiphany Demeanour, Bella A Go Go, Roxy Rhinestone,
Hot Spots Tease Mafia (Dundalk, Co Louth), Burlesque and Cabaret Social Club (Dublin), Side Show and the Pony Girls, Gorelesque (Dublin), Boutique Burlesque (County Cork), Dublin Burlesque Festival
Ones to Watch Foxy Peacocks, Tom Riddel and the Big Spender Boys, Alexia Lace, Lily Devalle and Lucy Rhinehart.
Classes/ Schools Bella a Go Go, The Irish Burlesque School, Roxy Rhinestone
In Ireland the burlesque revival began in around 2004, and really started to take off from 2006. With the Tassel Club hosting a regular night in The Sugar Club, there was suddenly a home for performers, dancers and musicians to play out their creations, and explore the world of burlesque. The Tassel Club soon grew so big that it moved to a bigger venue in The Button Factory and was sending performers all over the country in Ireland and the UK to perform, and was featuring at music, comedy, theatre and fringe festivals nationwide.
Once The Tassel Club moved to London there was a gap, which needed filling fast and the crew who built and grew with The Tassel Club began their own night, produced expertly by Lord KXB The Burlesque And Cabaret Social Club, which was exactly as it says it was. A club, a social, a night out, with a speak easy laid back vibe with music, a house band and some performances. But this grew so the show moved back to TheSugar Club where it is today, once a month, hosting the top talent in the country and selling out each show.
In 2010, six years of burlesque was celebrated at the Dublin Burlesque Festival, a weekend long event produced by myself Lord KXB, Mz Epiphany Demeanour, Dominique Devine and Bella A Go Go. It was a highly successful night and 2012 will be even bigger. In the last 3 years shows have popped up nationwide and not just in the capital, with nearly every major town hosting at least one burlesque show every few months.
The Queen of Irish Burlesque, Mz Epiphany Demeanour was at the heart of the growth of burlesque in Ireland. She was part of the first Tassel Club shows, and now theBurlesque and Cabaret Social club. Her acts are famous for their elegance, poise and classic beauty. Mz Epiphany Demeanour on Facebook
Bella A Go Go is one of the most fun and versatile performers on the scene. From classic fan dances, to hilarious comic stretches with her batty Character Miss Dotty Pots, Bella can go for farcical to glamorous in seconds. Her acts are detailed, pristine, executed perfectly and always highly entertaining.
Blackbird is the creation of a diverse performer named Emily. Emily is an accomplished musician, dancer, performance artist, and aerial performer and is currently in full time training in Circus School. Her range of skills and creatively is clear in her evocative and mesmerising burlesque acts and she is also a performer to watch in the future.
Roxy Rhinestone – I began in Burlesque in 2005 with The Tassel Club and revel in the comic. With skits and strip teases based on Wonder Woman, Snow White and Pulp Fiction to name just a few, I have performed nationally and internationally as well as at top comedy festivals.
Tease Mafia in The Spirit Store Dundalk, Co Louth was a regional show which hosted a regular event with local performers. Facebook page
Burlesque and Cabaret Social Club has become the capital’s staple show. It began as a Speak Easy night occasionally happening in the Sycamore Club, with the Burl Esquire Band, but the demand grew so it moved to the Sugar Club, Dublin’s home of burlesque on Leeson Street and became a monthly show and has been going steady now for over 2 years. It combines top Irish performers, as well as several international acts, and always nurtures up and coming talent. http://burlesquecabaretsocialclub.com/blog/
Side Show and the Pony Girls showcases some of the hottest Irish and international burlesque and striptease artists, plus variety acts, novelty numbers and comedians. This spectacular show is hosted by the capital’s favourite Drag King Gringo O’Hara, accompanied by Dublin’s cheekiest burlesque troupe, The Pony Girls.
Other shows include Gorelesque, based in Dublin, which does exactly what it says! Its Gore and Burlesque combined, perfect for Halloween!
In Co. Cork visit the Crane Lane, for Boutique Burlesque which hosts fabulous Swing and Jazz Music, some amazing performers to entertain late into the night.
In 2010, the first Dublin Burlesque Festival took place in venues throughout Dublin City, with the Burlesque and Cabaret Social Club in the Sugar Club opening the weekend long festival. It also included afternoon tea, and vintage fashion shows in the Mercantile, Dame Street, and vintage markets, burlesque cinema, performance competitions and awards show. It will take place again in November 2012. http://www.thedublinburlesquefestival.com/
Ones to Watch
The stunning Foxy Peacocks is a beautiful red head from Co Cork, involved in Boutique Burlesque Show there. With her Jessica Rabbit frame she oozes old school glamour and sex appeal. Her acts are stunning and she also performs in a double act that is both fun and playful.
Tom Riddle and the Big Spender Boys are amazing. Tom won the special ‘Heart of Burlesque ‘ award at the Dublin Burlesque Festival, due to his array of talent and his dedication to assisting other performers. A professionally trained dancer, he is responsible for the choreographing of the Big Spender Boys, a fully male burlesque troupe. His creativity and skills makes him a performer to watch. Facebook page
Alexia Lace has been working hard on the burlesque scene for a couple of years and is constantly creating new acts and new concepts for her performance, challenging herself with new skills and producing well rehearsed acts. Her background as a professional actress also lends a lot to her acts and ensures she is always engaging to watch.
Lily Devalle and Lucy Rhinehart. These girls perform individually as well as together. Their rockabilly edge makes them stand out. Their acts are like watching short stories, or poems unfold on stage, always stunning, despite sometimes shocking and grotesque elements!
Bella a Go Go teaches classes often, as well as hosting vintage markets.
The Irish Burlesque School is great for beginners, with classes on a regular basis starting for basics building to a first performance. http://www.irishburlesqueschool.com/
Roxy Rhinestone – I also teach classes and workshops.
* The profiles above are written from the point of view of each individual performer. If you would like to see an event, performer or class added to this then don’t hesitate to get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org and we will endeavour to include them in the future.