Oh hey there, darlings! It’s moi, Frenchie Kiss, and I’m just back from the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend 2014. My mind is positively racing with all the beautiful and dirty things I saw. I could go on about my many rhinestoned thoughts, but Holli-Mae Johnson, in all her expert glory, has asked me to focus. Specifically, to focus on two things I know best: Groups and Troupes. I have the unique advantage of straddling both (ha!) and winning titles as a Chicago Starlet and as Jett Adore’s duet partner, so on Saturday night, during the main pageant, I focused my attention on the Groups and Troupes categories to report back on how they did. Since we’re going both ways, let’s get started.

21st Century Burlesque Magazine Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend 2014 Coverage is sponsored by Fancy Feather.

Fancy Feather

This year, groups were organised differently. In the past, we’ve had Duos and Groups categories, so duets performed together, and groups of three or more performed together. I’m not sure why the numbers changed this year, but as someone who’s competed in a duet and in a large group, I can say they are just not the same. This change was odd to me. And the oddity was highlighted by a big follow spotlight with a category filled primarily with duets and only one trio.

All the ‘groups’ left their hearts on the stage, but it was the duets that truly spoke to me because of the chemistry and connection that occurs between two people.

Best Group

Number one in the chemistry department (and in my heart): Kitten LaRue and Lou Henry Hoover.

Kitten LaRue and Lou Henry Hoover competing for Best Group at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend Tournament of Tease 2014.  ©Don Spiro
Kitten LaRue and Lou Henry Hoover competing for Best Group at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend Tournament of Tease 2014. ©Don Spiro

I must admit a teensy bit of bias when it comes to these two. Their reputation preceded them and I absolutely could not wait to see what all the fuss was about. They did not disappoint with their joyful suicide pact disco, ‘Last Dance’. No one does high camp with the same *wink wink* and sophistication they do, and I was ready to drink their Drano cocktails. My money was on them to sweep this category, especially after their performance, and I was looking forward to having them join the Best Duo club. They did win ‘Most Comedic’, and regardless of their titles, IMHO they’re still in the Best Duo club. Jett and I have already started planning our future double-dates with them.

The title winners: Land of the Sweets (Lily Verlaine, Trojan Original and Paris Original).

Land of the Sweets - Lily Verlaine, Trojan Original and Paris Original - competing for Best Group at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend Tournament of Tease 2014. Top image ©Chris Harman/Harman House Photography. Bottom image ©Don Spiro.
Land of the Sweets – Lily Verlaine, Trojan Original and Paris Original – competing for Best Group at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend Tournament of Tease 2014. Top image ©Chris Harman/Harman House Photography. Bottom image ©Don Spiro.

This group was gorgeous and polished in a way that made their experience of performing this act obvious. They are strong dancers and performers, and they had every detail nailed. I applaud them for bringing their A-game (or tea-game, as it were), but Lily was the feature here and I didn’t necessarily see them as a group so much as three people doing a beautifully choreographed act.

Giving us togetherness: Circus De Moccos.

Circus de Moccos competing for Best Group at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend Tournament of Tease 2014. ©Don Spiro
Circus de Moccos competing for Best Group at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend Tournament of Tease 2014. ©Don Spiro

Coppelia Circus and Gilbert De Moccos were serving up some serious clown bizarre realness, right down to their big smiles and red wig reveal. They had charm and warmth for days. More than anything I could feel them having fun together on stage, and that is what worked best for them.

Flapping, twirling and bending gender: Lola Frost and Rita Star.

Lola Frost and Rita Star competing for Best Group at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend Tournament of Tease 2014. ©Chris Harman/Harman House Photography
Lola Frost and Rita Star competing for Best Group at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend Tournament of Tease 2014. ©Chris Harman/Harman House Photography

This is another pair that had fun together on stage, and again, I loved them for it. They came at us with women’s and men’s flapper style because, why not?  Then they took their fun, their dance and their panache and gave the audience what it always likes – twirling. Why have one twirler when you can have two? Despite Rita’s tassel loss, she kept it up right to the end and Lola diverted focus, just as any good partner would.

Best Troupe

Moving into the ‘the more the merrier’ realm, this was the category with girls, girls, girls! As a Chicago Starlet this is well within my comfort zone, and it thrilled me to my showgirl core to see all the ladies working together, from classic show pony formations to getting down with big butts.

Carrying on the showgirl legacy: Ruby Revue.

The Ruby Revue competing for Best Troupe at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend Tournament of Tease 2014. ©Chris Harman/Harman House Photography
The Ruby Revue competing for Best Troupe at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend Tournament of Tease 2014. ©Chris Harman/Harman House Photography

Here again I must admit some bias because the Ruby Revue (RR) girls are like sisters with us Chicago Starlets. We sometimes even share advice from our burlesque mama, Michelle L’amour. So I was extremely proud to see them high-stepping, head turning and kick-lining in precise formation. The RR are always together, working hard and playing hard. Their cohesion was apparent when they took the stage, right down to their feathery multi-coloured costumes. It was no surprise they won this title! It was also no surprise they coordinated their post-show evening gowns to the colours of their costumes. Well played on the details, ladies. (In addition to this win, Ginger Valentine and Missy Lisa, founders of the RR, each took home individual titles. It was a good night all around for this troupe.)

More showgirl realness: Burlesque Noir.

    Burlesque Noir competing for Best Troupe at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend Tournament of Tease 2014. ©Don Spiro
Burlesque Noir competing for Best Troupe at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend Tournament of Tease 2014. ©Don Spiro

They call themselves ‘Dirty Rotten Showgirls’, but they could also be called ‘Sweet Fan Formation Showgirls’. I really liked them taking a classic sailor aesthetic and the classic feather fan concept, then making a slight left turn with it. Using smaller, red hand fans, they created fan formations inspired by Busby Berkeley. I can’t wait to see the pictures from this one because they were serving it up beautifully.

Even more showgirl style: The Cheesecake Burlesque Revue.

The Cheesecake Burlesque Revue competing for Best Troupe at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend Tournament of Tease 2014. ©Don Spiro
The Cheesecake Burlesque Revue competing for Best Troupe at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend Tournament of Tease 2014. ©Don Spiro

I love Singin’ in the Rain with my whole heart, so I was with The Cheesecake Burlesque Revue from the first beat of their music. They took that into a cover of Rhianna’s Umbrella with formation lines and flower petal umbrella tricks. And, as with the other three troupes I’ve discussed, this spoke to my showgirl heart. Aside from a few umbrella mishaps, this act was charming and cheerful.

Then taking a sharp turn away from classic showgirls: Don’t Blink Burlesque.

Don't Blink Burlesque competing for Best Troupe at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend Tournament of Tease 2014. ©Don Spiro
Don’t Blink Burlesque competing for Best Troupe at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend Tournament of Tease 2014. ©Don Spiro

Nothing says ‘we are not doing classic’ like dancing to Sir Mix-A-Lot’s Baby Got Back. These girls were showgirls, but they were out to prove that they could do it their own way, complete with dark costumes and a visibly pregnant troupe member. Funnily enough, none of them really had big butts, but I appreciated their enthusiasm and their reminder that we all love curves.

That’s it from me, darlings! I’m off to dreamland where I’ll be thinking of the two, threes and many mores…

Frenchie Kiss

Category Awards

Best Group: Land of the Sweets
Best Troupe: Ruby Revue

Top image ©Chris Harman/Harman House Photography

http://www.BHoFWeekend.com

Read more Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend 2014 Coverage here!