The Dallas Burlesque Festival has a special place in my heart. Not only is it produced by three of my best friends, Black Mariah, Ginger Valentine and Missy Lisa, but it’s a weekend that’s dedicated to burlesque in my home town. I love seeing the festival grow each year, attracting more and more of my favourite national performers. It is also worth noting that DBF is where I performed my first act in the air, which has since become a sort of a signature for me. I’m deeply thankful to this festival for letting me try out my wacky ideas, and helping me find my voice as a performer. This year was the fifth annual Dallas Burlesque Festival, and I’m proud to say I haven’t missed a year yet.
Unfortunately I was not able to attend Thursday’s pre party, or the Friday night show, but I employed the help of ‘King of Boylesque’ Russell Bruner to fill you in on what I missed…
Thursday, February 7th
I flew into Dallas in time to catch a beautiful Texas sunset. A special treat, especially considering I don’t usually see the sun much in February in the Northwest where I’m from. I waited and had the pleasure of being picked up by Ginger Valentine and Missy Lisa. They took me to the Belmont Hotel, which had a nice room with a funny looking chair that looked like a split lima bean.
I was told there was a pool, so I dumped off my bags, put on my old timey swimming trunks and went looking for it. I ended up accidentally walking into the middle of the attached restaurant, which I felt would have been a good spot for a pool. One of the wait staff came to my assistance and redirected me.
I found the pool, but I didn’t end up swimming because there were too many children being children. I made a suggestion to the front desk that they allot some time designated to be for Adults Only sometimes… Like all pools should be.
I redressed myself and got ready for the intimate pre-party Thursday night get-together. Black Mariah picked me up, kept me in good company and made sure I stayed well inebriated throughout the night. I love her for treating me so well and adding to the wonderful Southern Hospitality I’d been enjoying.
At the pre-party I saw performances by Missy Lisa, Ginger Valentine and Renee Holiday. Missy Lisa did a classy striptease number with a top hat, tux and cane. I’m a sucker for beautiful blondes, classic style and cane work, so I was in heaven watching her take the stage and take it off! Ginger Valentine did an ever so graceful classic striptease. I was surprised when I heard later that GV was dealing with a back injury. I wouldn’t have guessed that from her smooth graceful movements on stage. I got lost in her expression and eye contact as I was sitting up close. She left me stunned. Renee Holiday was a triple threat by MCing, singing and dancing. She sang beautifully and completed the kick-off to start the Dallas Burlesque Festival proper.
Friday, February 8th
I woke up just before noon and tried to go swimming again. There were still children in the pool, so I just skipped it and left to go to the House of Blues early for Tech Rehearsal. Tech Rehearsal was fun, and since I was early I got to check out who was going to be in the show later that night. The staff were real nice, helpful and on top of things throughout the evening too.
By showtime, the place was packed with event-goers and also partiers that wandered in from the Mardi Gras Celebrations in all the rooms at the House of Blues. The room was so full, I was only able to watch some of the show peeking in from the backside.
From the noise and the looks on their faces, I could tell the audience was having a great time. It was especially a treat to hear the roar from the crowd when Jasper St. James took the stage. Part of it was that the ladies in the crowd really knew how to express their glee vocally, and it was a good act that connected with the entire room.
The show cast included Suki Jones, Marla Mab, Ruby Rockit, Minxie Mimieux, ShelBelle ShamRock, The Dirty Blonde, Theresa Michelle, Sweet T, Renee Holiday, Jasper St James, MaryLynn Mayhem, Marilyn Monrouge, St. Stella, Lady Jae, Erik Edmund Niewiarowski, Ruby Lamb, Roo LaLa and yours truly. Everyone did fantastic work and made the evening spectacular!
After the show, I went out with some of the cast for a bite to eat at a place called Fuzzy Taco, Pink Taco, Fish Taco, Velvet Taco, Slippery Taco, or something along those lines. I ate four tacos. They were delicious!
I had to leave Saturday morning, so I missed the Saturday Show and Sunday’s Award Ceremony. I ended up sending a pre-recorded acceptance speech for winning the Artie Brooks Award for ‘Comedic Excellence in Burlesque’.
I wish I could have stayed for the rest of the festival. I was sad to have sent a pre-recorded message to accept the award I won. Funny enough, I got a call on Sunday night and it was a pre-recorded message from Artie Brooks congratulating me in a dream. I’m uncertain if it was brought on by my guilt or if in fact the ghost of Artie Brooks found a creative funny way to congratulate me and return the favour. In any case, I’ll make sure to be there for the entire festival next time!
Saturday February 9th
Hi, it’s Angi again.
8 am. It’s very early and I’m waking up to an ocean view; it’s undoubtedly difficult to motivate. As someone who keeps extreme showgirl hours, I’m usually an ‘up at the crack of noon’ type of lady, but tonight’s main event leaves little time for sleeping in! I make a pot of coffee and stare into the Galveston Bay for one last moment before starting my journey home.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of driving through Texas via I-45, you know the two most interesting things between Houston and Dallas are Buc-ee’s (the gas station/convenience store Mecca and home to the Beaver nugget) and The statue of Sam Houston (which looks JUST like a ghost from a Scooby Doo cartoon). Unfortunately, I have time to stop at neither today (but suggest you check them out should you find yourself travelling that way). Steven Wright is my co-pilot today, and he makes me giggle all the way home.
3 pm. I get back to Dallas just in time to meet rigger Barry Kooda at the House of Blues. Each year I watch in awe as he literally climbs onto the lighting grid and rides it up about sixty feet to rig my silks into the ceiling. This guy definitely lives up to the badassery of his name. It’s ironic that he won’t stay to watch the show as he claims it makes him too nervous. With everything good to go, I head home to shower and to pack my things for the evening.
7 pm. I arrive back at the House of Blues for tech and the first people I see are Missy Lisa and Ginger Valentine, two of the producers of the show. We spend a few moments catching up and I let them get back to setting up the vendor tables and preparing for the show. After a quick tech, I settle into the dressing area and begin getting ready for the show.
The night begins with a pin-up pageant, which I unfortunately miss while getting ready. Pin-up model and burlesque performer Jennica Lynnlee emerges as the winner of Miss Dallas Burlesque Festival Pin-Up 2013, and is crowned by last year’s winner, Mary Lynn Mayhem.
As I’m not on until later in the show, I get the pleasure of watching most of the show from the side stage area. Vintage vixen Miss V Haven (Houston) and comedian Edmond Birch (Chicago) serve as the night’s MC’s. The show kicks off with a stellar opening act by The Ruby Revue, featuring singer Renee Holiday with her back-up dancers and finishing in a confetti cannon explosion (who doesn’t love a confetti cannon?!) The tone has been set, and the bar is sky high!
Bettina May is on next and she looks ravishing in her pink and black gown. Athena kills it with her ‘Voodoo Queen’ act. Her floor work is raw and unapologetic; she works her voodoo magic on the crowd and they eat it up. Lula Houp-Garou was another highlight for me. It’s not just her hoop skills that impress me, but her ability to create and execute an act; from concept to costume to choreography, it’s all spot on.
Donna Denise and Ms. Redd are the epitome of glamour on stage; they sparkle in their beautiful corseted costumes and are crowd favourites. Before I know it, it’s time for me to take the stage. It’s always a joy performing for my home crowd, and tonight is no exception. It’s nights like these that make me proud to call Dallas my home.
After the show, everyone heads upstairs to the Foundation Room, where an after party is in full force. Inside there is a crazy dance party happening, but I spend most of the night sitting on the balcony, sipping wine and chatting with friends until it’s time for last call.
Sunday February 8th
Sunday is here, and it’s decidedly lazy. We have a hankering for bottomless mimosas, and head to Prime Bar to meet some folks for brunch. I’m joined by Roxie Le Rouge, Black Mariah, Courtney Crave, Bonnie Lou, and Edmund Birch. We indulge in Banana’s Foster French Toast, Gumbo Benedict, and mimosas – did I mention the mimosas?
Sunday evening is the Awards dinner. The attire is formal, and everyone looks marvellous in their suits and gowns. There is a buffet style dinner, champagne, and the promise of one more night of world class striptease. Needless to say, I’m a very happy lady.
Edmund returns to host the show and is accompanied by Renee Holiday this evening. Missy Lisa performed ‘Wipe Out’, my personal favourite of her routines. This high energy act features assles and tassels, and never fails to make the crowd go nuts. Roxie Le Rouge performed a classic routine which showed off her musicality and beautiful lines. I love watching this lady dance. The always glamorous Ginger Valentine delivered another jaw-dropping classic styled performance, and Stroker Ace added a touch of comedy to the evening, transforming from a caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly. April Showers oozed sex appeal and glided across the stage in her glittering gown, and local legend Tammi True (who once headlined at the Carousel Club, the striptease venue owned by Jack Ruby) took the stage for the finale.
The evening’s awards were voted on via fan vote, and included awards for Hottest Body (Tana the Tattooed Lady), Class Act (Donna Denise), Most Sensual (April Showers), Sweetest Lady (Sweet T), Dirtiest Dancer (Suki Jones), and Comedic Excellence (Russell Bruner). I was quite honoured when I was called on stage to receive the Future Legend award, and thrilled when Tammi True herself presented me with the award, along with a t-shirt and signed 8×10!
The show is over, but I’m not quite ready to call it a night, so I invite a few friends over and we order more food and grab a few (okay, maybe more than a few) bottles of wine. It’s the perfect ending to the weekend. This year’s Dallas Burlesque Festival was the best yet, and I can’t wait to see what next year holds. Thanks again to the producers, stage crew, and all the performers who make this weekend happen. See you next time!
Angi B. Lovely
To learn more about Dallas legend Tammi True, visit this site.
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.