Bazuka Joe’s Best of Midwest Burlesk Festival Diary
21st Century Burlesque Magazine has documented the contemporary burlesque scene…
The irresistibly cute Bazuka Joe and his fellow superhunks, Ray Gunn and Jett Adore, were featured performers at the Best of Midwest Burlesk Festival in February. Joe shares his festival diary from the fun-packed long weekend…
Wednesday, February 8th – 10:30pm
Well, here we are again at the Best of Midwest Burlesk Festival! This marks our third year at BOMB, which incidentally was our very first festival ever! Since then, it’s the festival we most look forward to each year and has become a huge family reunion. Ray and I arrived by plane just in time for Mr. DuBois (aka Chris Massey) to whisk us away straight to tech rehearsal. While Ray teched his newest act, I sat in the audience dreaming about once again seeing my burlesque crush, Perle Noire, who was coming in as headliner. I daydreamed in doodles on the back of my plane ticket about how we’d combine our names one day: “Mr. Bazuka Noire”, “Mr. and Mrs. Bazuka Joe”, “ Mrs. Perle Joe”…
Wednesday, February 8th – 11:50pm
We finally settled in at Nadine DuBois’ pad, which will eventually house Lola Van Ella, Sammich the Tramp, Ray Gunn, Jett Adore, the three Hoochie Coochie Girls, Lynx the Animator, Midnite Martini, Buster Hymen, and me! Wow, what a sleepover! I’d say it’ll be about thirty minutes before we’re all drunk!
Thursday, February 9th – 1:00pm
Day One! This year, BOMB decided to hand over the artistic duties for the Thursday night show to Lola Van Ella and Sammich The Tramp, a la Beggar’s Carnivale style. (If you ever get a chance to visit St. Louis, you HAVE to see it in person!) It was a mind-blowing mix of live-action silent film, burlesque, and variety acts; no host, no talking, just straight up action the whole way through! Lots of last minute costuming and rehearsing (shock!) It wouldn’t be a show day without some kind of chaos! The weekend’s performers are all trickling in, filling up the local homes and hotels – thanks to the other Lili’s Burlesque crew, Ophelia Flame, Gina Louise, Karen Vieno Paurus, Summer Clearance, Sweetpea, Ely Lachman, Switch, CoCo Dupree, and AJ the Bodyguard. Endless hugs and kisses and I’m already covered in glitter!
Friday, February 10th – 1:15am
You will NOT believe it! Tonight’s show was incredible. The audience had no idea what hit them, and the instant all the performers ran out into the house during the opening act, the whole place was in an uproar! As is the way with live theatre, curveballs get thrown your way. (We’ve all been there, right?) The DVD player decided not to work for an act midway through the show. Sammich to the rescue! On a pitch black stage, she comes running out from the wings and performs a completely improvised set armed only with a flashlight to buy time until the projection was fixed. The audience was howling with laughter. I’ve never seen a flashlight used in so many ways! (Most of them dirty!) Midnite Martini celebrated her birthday today, and in true Beggar’s Carnivale birthday fashion, she got cream-pied on the ass. What a mess! Okay, gotta go – Pop rocks shots are waiting for me in the kitchen. The best of blend of pop rocks and vodka straight from the bottle! (I blame Midnite for instigating…)
P.S. Jett arrives in about an hour; he missed the whole night!
Friday, February 10th – 4:30pm
Ouch! I woke up with such a hangover – damn those Pop Rocks shots. But we had a great brunch with Big Mama Red, David Bishop, and Foxy Tann, and now we’re all set and ready to get to the theatre. Two sold out shows tonight back to back. It’s show time!
Saturday, February 11th – 10:20am
Last night’s shows were a huge success. Both had a really solid line-up and offered up some very unique formatting – playing with acts overlapping each other, straight up swing and Charleston dance acts, an insult comic/magician, and Nadine Dubois sang with six fantastic back-up dancers. Both shows truly channeled the spirit of vaudeville and variety shows; it’s so refreshing to break away from the standard format.
Of course the hazy part comes with the after party! Perle Noire started filming her candid video blog (Did I mention lately I have a huge crush on her?) while the Hoochie Coochie Girls ran by wearing a two-person snowsuit. Why would that even exist?! Oh, and I can’t forget to mention a room full of burlesquers taking late night glamour shots – not pretty!
Tonight are the last two shows of the festival (Booooo!) I can’t believe how fast it’s going. My nerves are already setting in too. No matter how many times I go on stage, I still get ridiculously anxious. You know how it is – if you didn’t feel that way you wouldn’t be doing it, right? It’s a special blend of nervousness, excitement, and the high you got from the glitter you inhaled backstage! Back me up on this one, folks. Big, deep breath… Okay, here goes!
Sunday, February 12th – Noon(ish)
Groggily waking up from last night’s spectacle. Every single performer was polished, well-rehearsed, and commanded the stage. I can honestly say there wasn’t a single throw-away act the whole weekend. The live band, The Southside Aces, surprised us all when THEY decided to strip down to bright red union suits and played the rest of the show in their undies – hilarious! Perle of course, was stellar. She had the audience on their feet, clapping and dancing in the aisles. I seriously don’t know where she gets all that energy! After the show and an epically long load out, we were all starving. All the burlesque guys took to the kitchen and made LOADS of spaghetti and pizza for the crew. Meanwhile the girls were lounging, drinking, and learning all about some new sexual techniques. I won’t say what, because you might be reading this while you’re eating, or in church, or around nosey children. But trust me, there were a LOT of hand gestures and miming.
Sunday, February 12th – 4pm
Well, it’s time to say goodbye. We’re at the annual sledding party and the performers are leaving one by one. It’s like the last day of summer camp and you have to say, “so long” to the friends you grew so close to in such a short time.
“I can’t believe we’ve only known each other for a few days.”
“It seems like it’s been forever.”
You give your final hugs and kisses, and you promise to keep in touch, and you’re already reminiscing about the weekend while you’re thinking about your next act, and you’re going home exhausted and broke, but inspired. And you remember why we do this… Because it’s worth it.
Find out more about Bazuka Joe and the Stage Door Johnnies at
21st Century Burlesque Magazine has documented the contemporary burlesque scene since 2007. Founded and edited by Holli-Mae Johnson.