Australian Burlesque Festival: Adelaide
Adelaide is known as the city of churches, and as we arrive it’s cold, overcast and rainy. Driving to our hotel we come across a shop called ‘DIRT! Fashion’ and we take mental note to go and pillage their discount stripperwear when we get the chance.
After a few weeks of shows our muscles are beginning to feel a bit fatigued. Headed by Dirty Martini, we decided to instigate an official warm-up of Cecchetti Ballet onstage to Hotline Bling. It definitely got our muscles ready for cartwheels, dropsplits, high kicks, and of course, all the Fosse goodness.
‘Wow. What a powerplant. With an inbuilt motor.’ Dolores Daiquiri‘s music has the cutest cheesy 60s voice over that we mime side of stage as she stalks the stage in her towering orange headpiece.
Jacqueline Furey and I are peering side of stage, shivering and waiting to tread the floorboards of this super old theatre. I was thanking my lucky stars that my lilac costume was nothing but a glorified fur coat and was forcing everyone’s hands into the muff to keep them warm before they went onstage.
We had a massive troupe on this night – the Gin House Floozys, headed by Adelaide’s Peaches and Gin. Sapphire Snow, in a costume that I had been dying to see up close for a long time, with peach fabric and intricate beadwork by the impeccable Zoe Felice.
I start to get my first niggles of a sore throat, but with the showgirl briggage throwing vitamins my way, I suppress the flu for Darwin. Casualty number three, however, Bella ‘The Dac’ de Jac, manages to smash out some intense early nights to make sure she is well enough to be onstage for the Darwin show.
Australian Burlesque Festival: Darwin
As you fly into Darwin, you feel the heat emanate from the tarmac before you step off the plane. Cue unceremoniously stripping layers. Darwin is at the top end of Australia. It’s hot, remote and known for two seasons – raining and not raining.
We are here in winter, which means its not raining. However, as we step off the plane Zelia Rose perfectly describes it: ‘hot as balls.’ We strip off our post-Adelaide layers, down to our smallest outfits because we didn’t pack anything small enough.
As the luggage conveyor belt chugs into action, disaster has struck. My big orange suitcase that contains all my costumes has split open and I can see all my expensive show-knickers hanging out the side. It has been unlovingly taped together with two pieces of stickytape ironically stating, “Fragile.”
After about an hour of tears and pleading with QANTAS luggage services to either replace or fix my dear bag, I rejoin the cast with three “loan” suitcases, and the promise that my bag will be fixed before we fly back out.
We stayed in an apartment with a palatial view, which inspired us to have a few home nights. A big showgirl cookup (did I mention that our entire cast is incredible cooks), cocktails on the balcony, and Zelia and Elena Gabrielle choreographing hair-flicking dances moves atop swivelling bar-stools. We even managed a day trip to the stunning pools of Lithgowe National Park (although I believe we may have shocked the locals).
By this point in the tour we have become truly well acquainted with the entire cast. Elena has introduced us to porn bloopers, Zelia has been given a new title ‘The Master Bogan’ and Jacqueline has firmly won the title of someone who can sleep anywhere.
By this time, I’m also pulling my hair out trying to get my master’s assignments handed in – in no small part with great thanks to my noise-cancelling headphones. I’m just finishing my last paper for the semester as we head off to the Darwin Entertainment Centre.
Darwin is best known for its overwhelming male gaze – ten to one male to female. Mostly miners. You feel the testosterone and this equates a very rowdy audience which our emcee handles with ease. Funnily enough it was two women out of the audience who walked out halfway through the show quoting, ‘That’s not burlesque. I’ve seen the movie.’ Bye Felicia!
Elena Gabrielle was in her top form on this night as the Darwin audience really enjoyed ‘interacting’ with her onstage. What goes down surprisingly well is Elena’s Diva Medley here. Elena possesses such powerful vocal range, which she demonstrates in her aural montage of the biggest moments from the divas – Celine to Britney, Whitney to Christina. It blows me away every performance.
Huge props to Lila Luxx, who stage manages in a g-string after opening the show (a consummate professional). Jacqueline Furey really brought the house down in Darwin with her on fire Medusa boa fan act – scary slit eyes – with a huge amount of space to fling her big fans.
The Darwin show was our smallest cast of the whole tour but one of my favourite stops, especially after my orange suitcase was returned to me in full working order.
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.