Alyssa Kitt recaps the Perth International Burlesque Festival, also starring Vicky Butterfly, Medianoche, Lola The Vamp and Lillian Starr…
There are few moments as special as the time of year when artists travel across the country and the world to get together to take their clothes off in the city of Perth. The Perth International Burlesque Festival is in its fourth year and it’s the second time that I’ve been a part of the festivities. I was super excited to be one of the fancy ladies on the poster, headlining the festival.
Opening Night – Corsets and Couture
The festival tours around some regional cities the week before the consecutive shows kick off in Perth. The grand opening night party, Corsets and Couture, was held in the beautiful little back-alley speakeasy style venue called the Laneway Lounge. As the evening began the eager audience were greeted with showgirls clad in sky high feather pieces, standing tall with grand smiles, with mingling models in wearable art and a fashion parade. The evening was hosted by none other than Famous Sharron – an MC with the most perfect Australian diction.
The performances kicked off with statuesque newcomer The Sugar Duchess, and in between sets strummed the sultry jazz band The Jessie Gordon Quartet. I was lucky enough to perform my tassel-tastic tribute to Jennie Lee live with the band, complete with improv shimmy section. The iconic Australian burlesquer Lola the Vamp teased and pleased beneath the largest parasol I’ve ever seen in her ‘Oriental Fantasy’ number. Medianoche (or Mazza Nacho as we have dubbed her in Aussie slang) closed the show with knee-slamming perfection, performing her orange butterfly number.
A few standouts from the night included Perth local duet Tipsy Twosome – Fifi Fontaine and Lulu Liquor – who whipped out a fabulous 1920s number; Sydney performer Maple Rose rocking classic showgirl with a cheeky twist; and festival headliner Trixi Tassels performing a sensual chair dance.
Dark of the Cabaret
For Friday night’s show we headed to the very grand and opulent Fremantle town hall. Dark of the Cabaret was perfectly suited to the historical and allegedly haunted venue. Fremantle was built by convicts and the dark acts fit in well with the energy of the building. PIBF was lucky enough to snatch up one of Australia’s most loved MCs, the ostentatious songstress and deeply debaucherous Aurora Kurth, whose delightful accent, quick wit and out-of-this-world rendition of the Queen of the Night aria had me clutching my seat in pure adoration!
My favourite numbers of the night included Ruby Slippers’ puppy-play Cruella Deville act, Sassy Limbs’ sexy spider contortion, Lila Luxx’s lyrical Anne Boleyn execution, and Bunni Lambada’s hilarious homage to one of Australia’s notorious outlaws, Ned Kelly.
The headliners for the evening did not disappoint; Vicky Butterfly’s ‘Night Flowers’ had me screaming until my voice was hoarse – LED has never been so impressive and magnificent. Vicky really is a creature from another world; ethereal and magnificently jaw-dropping. The standout of the whole night was Lillian Starr’s ‘Feed the Horse’, one of the most powerfully strong fetish pony acts amazingly backlit with strong steps. This woman’s musicality and concepts are so diverse and unique.
I had an early night because Saturday morning workshops began showgirl early. I taught my ‘Beautiful Bumps and Golden Grinds’ class to a room full of eager burlesque newcomers who got the full force of my historical obsessions while sweating and having fun! Lillian Starr taught her ‘Dance Like Madonna’ class and Lola the Vamp her ‘Behind the Mask’ workshop.
Glitter, Garters and Tease
The Saturday night show is the time to bring on the glitz at the beautiful Astor Theatre (which even has its own burlesque performer ghost). Opening the night, Lola the Vamp performed ‘Enter the Dragon’ with the most ridiculously oversized dragon!
My favourite performances included Dolores Daiquiri’s ‘Melon Tease’ – really classic burlesque at its best, Lulu Liquor’s ‘Terminator’ (which she will be taking to the New York Burlesque Festival this year), and Lila Luxx’s ‘Big Black Boa’.
Medianoche came out to perform in the most visceral, Swarovski-veined dress and flawed everyone with her ‘Toxique’ routine. Sin in an hourglass is an understatement – this woman is pure sex and a living doll.
I performed my slow and sombre de-petaling – ‘The Cherry Blossom Tree’. It was lovely to get to perform this number in Perth and I’ve got to say big cheers to the lighting team because they were on point that night! Vicky Butterfly brought the house down with her ‘Swan Bride’ routine, the closing number of the Saturday show. Her fan work really is astounding; she makes those fans look weightless and her soft elegance exudes warmth and depth.
We were so thrilled to hear festival producer and headmistress of Sugar Blue Burlesque A’dora Derriere announce that she is having a burlesque baby very soon. Biggest congratulations! Coco Poppin and A’dora really do put on one hell of a festival. They are amazing organisers, true ladies and just so darned thoughtful.
After we packed down and had a quick celebratory glass of bubbly, we headed to the after party to relax, see some fabulous gogo dancing and hang out with old and new friends. Magnus Danger Magnus was master of ceremonies for the after party and is one of the most talented and fun MCs in Australia. After a few boozy late night conversations and a good boogie we retired for the evening.
No rest for the wicked (or the mildly – okay, really hungover) as it’s up nice and early to head to the vintage markets. A fabulous collection of local vintage collectors, designers, high tea, student showcases and a sneaky peepshow in the back – with some great newcomer performers!
We mingle longer than we normally would because after we leave, we know the festival is over for another year. We bid adieu to our international headliners, and see-you-laters to interstate performers. The Aussie standard in burlesque is only going to get higher and higher with such fabulously produced festivals.
Quoted in major international newspapers and held in high esteem and affection by the international burlesque community, 21st Century Burlesque Magazine has documented the contemporary burlesque scene since 2007. Founded and edited by Holli-Mae Johnson.