Sydni Deveraux: New Orleans Burlesque Festival Diary

Thursday – September 15, 2011

We arrive in New Orleans after leaving Hawaii on Wednesday. As we hadn’t slept since 7am the previous day, we were thrilled to leave the sticky tropical heat, and were met with a kinder, more gentle heat in NOLA. I must say, I’ve never met so many men in my life that want to help me with my bags in the airport – and their southern drawls and charming smiles almost persuade me. But, I am a married lady and have my own hospitable man to help me with my luggage, and thankfully he’s spent a good amount of time in New Orleans. As soon as we checked in to the Westin we were on our way to ACME oyster house, and the only time I’ve never had to spell the name Deveraux to the hostess taking our names.

After a jaunt down Bourbon Street where I happily tried a Hurricane (too sugary!) while drinking, like adults should be allowed to – on the street, we headed to the Blacksmith shop, which I found out was built sometime before 1772. From there we headed over to the opening night party at Broussard’s and were greeted by the sounds of the big band that wafted over the conversations of the sparkly beautiful performers for this years event! I caught up with Hottie McNaughty and Iva Handful of Haute Under the Collar while we watched the girls dancing nearby.

Sydni savours a beignet. Mmmm...
Sydni savours a beignet. Mmmm...

Friday – September 16th, 2011

3am: I had my first (and sadly only) encounter with a beignet at Café Du Monde. I think my husband planned this well, because sugar tends to make me sleepy.

9am: We awoke early to explore the French Quarter. It seems like it transforms completely from day to night! The balcony iron work is so beautiful that I feel cheated by living in Seattle. You can almost smell the history wafting out of the slats in the window shutters.

3:30pm: And it’s my tech time… I almost get lost in the casino. David Bishop (“The Bishop of Burlesque”) greets me warmly and shows me my dressing room – I can’t tell you how excited I was to see who I was sharing a room with! I was greeted by the always effervescent Kitten on the Keys getting all of her things prepared for the night.

6:45pm: I arrive back at Harrah’s Casino for my call and to start to prep and get ready for my show. I pull my giant skirt out and begin fluffing the 450 yards of tulle (a lot of you messaged me to know!), listening to my music, getting ready to use it for the first time on stage.

8pm: The show starts promptly! We can hear Cora Vette’s lovely voice singing a song to welcome everyone to the show. The monitor sits just in back of the stage with five performers consistently hanging out around it. I get to catch Angi B. Lovely’s blue and black fringe number, full of energy and a great smile! After my show ended I went out to catch the end of the show, with Kristina Nekyia absolutely killing it with her Genie act! The legendary Catherine D’Lish closed the show with her infamous spider act – her ability to be graceful and seem so very relaxed while doing something that takes an incredible feat of flexibility and strength gets me every time. She’s my burlesque super-hero!

Kristina Nekyia ©POC Photo
Kristina Nekyia ©POC Photo

11pm: The Mondo show is over and we head over to the House of Blues with Kristina Nekyia and her nice gentleman. When we get there, it’s already packed, with no room for tiny Kristina to see the show, but here’s where I find out that she’s incredibly resourceful  – taking us over to the gorgeous Foundation Room (the House of Blues private space) for cocktails, and luckily access to a great VIP area to watch Armitage Shanks host a bevy of badass ladies in the House of Blues. The crowd there was insane! Every act was enjoyed and enjoyed thoroughly. I have to tell you, I was a sucker for Ms Redd’s boob tricks. Thank you, Redd. Lou Lou D’Vil performed her Bettie Page tribute act and looked gorgeous as usual. Jeez Loueez punk’d the entire house with her Rufio act – brought the house down. For a special treat, Catherine D’Lish, who is known for her classic pieces, mixed it up and got sultry with some Led Zeppelin and a bed. I don’t think there was anyone in that audience that didn’t want to be that tie, or that bed….

"I don’t think there was anyone in that audience that didn’t want to be that tie, or that bed…."  Catherine DLish  ©POC Photo
"I don’t think there was anyone in that audience that didn’t want to be that tie, or that bed…." Catherine DLish ©POC Photo

From the show everyone scooted over for the after party in the Foundation Room, sipping drinks and dancing to a very amused (yet bored looking) DJ. Girls smoked in the bathroom, just like the good ol’ days. The lights were low, but all of the rhinestones shone, closing out a great night of shows.

Saturday – September 17th, 2011

10am: Sleeping in, we hit Mother’s for a good serving of southern cooking, curing any hangover ills that might have stayed with us through the night. Meeting up with Armitage Shanks in The Shop, an art gallery, and head over to hear a little music as we walk down Frenchmen St.

4pm: We hit Acme Oyster House with Armitage and Coco Framboise (we know we’re repeating food, but Coco hadn’t been there yet!) for a late lunch before she needs to go get ready for the Queen of Burlesque competition.

7:45pm: Catch a quick chat with the ladies of Haute Under the Collar, Iva Handfull and Hottie McNaughty before going in to get our seats for the competition.

Coco Framboise with Armitage Shanks
Coco Framboise with Armitage Shanks

8pm: The show starts and Kitten on the Keys is on fire! She sings “If I can’t sell it”, and I want to buy everything from her in those moments. She’s got a great bluesy growl. The burlesque portion of the show begins with Perle Noire’s debut of her new act ‘Exotic Mystere’, a bit of sultry fire from the The Black Pearl of burlesque, and a great way to start the show! Since there’s simply too much to talk about this show I’ll talk about my personal high high HIGH HIGHLIGHTS:

1.    Medianoche’s ass-ets and lovely fan work.
2.   Peekaboo Pointe’s beautiful bead dress and her stalk of the stage.
3.   Ginger Valentine’s awesome floor work, charisma and beaming smile.
4.   Lou Lou D’Vil’s impeccable dress and oozing sex.
5.   Coco Lectric’s final dance as reigning queen of New Orleans 2010. I never thought of When the Saints Go Marching In as a burlesque song, but she proved me wrong with her rousing act!
6.    The pageant Q&A was HILARIOUS. Every girl nailed it!

Every contestant and performer brought her unique and lovely brand of burlesque to the table – I really enjoyed watching this show from beginning to end.

Ginger Valentine is crowned, with runners up, Lola van Ella and Lou Lou D'Vil   ©Derek Jackson
Ginger Valentine is crowned, with runners up, Lola van Ella and Lou Lou D'Vil ©Derek Jackson

Crowning time comes and Kitten on the Keys sure does know how to draw out the suspense. Both Lola Van Ella and Lou Lou D’Vil’s placements are well deserved, congratulations ladies!

GINGER VALENTINE IS CROWNED AS THE 2011 QUEEN OF NEW ORLEANS BURLESQUE! A fantastic end to a fantastic show – we all go to celebrate the queen and close out the festival with the Queen’s Ball.

11pm: The Republic: I arrive backstage to greet Kitten De Ville’s smiling sweet face. She’s so nice! All of the performers seem really excited to close out the festival, I see Bettina May, fellow Suicide Girl and we catch up a little – it had been five years since we had seen each other!

Sydni takes to the stage...  ©Derek Jackson
Sydni takes to the stage... ©Derek Jackson

My time to perform comes and it’s the act before Kitten De Ville! The crowd is full of energy and hearing Nadine Dubois introduce me was a moment I won’t soon forget! As in my Mondo show, I lose a pastie, but I don’t let it bother me – I threw the remaining one into the crowd as my farewell to sweet sweet New Orleans.

I want to thank all of the people who performed, attended and contributed to the festival-it was such a lovely time! Thank you Rick Delaup and Secrets In Lace for yet again creating a lovely festival!

Sydni Deveraux

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