In early April, this little showgirl packed her most sparkly G-string and lampshade headpiece into a suitcase and travelled 8,800 miles to the Texas Burlesque Festival in Austin.
Nearly 20 hours of flight later, I was in the heart of Texas and getting ready to participate in one of America’s biggest and best burlesque festivals, produced by Lynn Raridon and Coco Lectric.
Upon landing, I was greeted at the airport by the lovely Stacey Rutledge. I sat in awe listening to her thick, awesome accent and drooled as we drove past In’N’Out Burger and What-A-Burger and immediately fell in love!
The festival kicked off with a bang on Thursday night with the ‘Nouveau Nuit’ show featuring new, exciting neo-burlesque acts! What struck me from this first night was the sheer enthusiasm of the audience; they were so loud and responsive to the performers which created an electric atmosphere.
A special shout out to Sista Selva from New York who was the standout performer for the evening with an incredibly entertaining half-man, half-woman act! Best of all, it was performed to an amazing RnB song which is very much my style. Well done Sista Selva!
Another standout performer on the night was one of the producers of the festival! I’d seen Coco Lectric perform in Australia last year but it was great to see her perform in her home state – her intensity, her choreography and her style make her the most captivating performer.
The next show was Friday’s ‘Legends Night’ starring the gorgeous Marinka, a veteran and legend in the burlesque scene. It was also my night to perform and pop my international cherry with my favourite act ‘Lampshade Blues’.
When the time came to take the stage I have to say I was pretty nervy, but boy did the Texans make me feel at home. When the lights came up and my elaborate lampshade-headpiece was revealed there were ‘ooohs’, and when I did my seductive glove peel there were ‘aaaahs’. Then it all went dark and very quiet until the lampshade lit up and – the crowd roared! It was very humbling for this Aussie chick and of course, once I finished, I wanted to do it all again!
The final performer for the evening was Marinka, Queen of the Amazons and she brought the house D-O-W-N. At 78 years old, this gorgeous legend had everyone clapping, cheering and teary eyed. She strut the stage performing a gorgeous, sexy striptease bursting with confidence and grace.
Saturday morning we got up bright and early to nurse our hangovers and have brunch with Marinka over mimosas and pancakes.
It was eye-opening to catch a glimpse into her life as a showgirl. She talked about her schedule of four shows per day and five on a Friday, equalling 28 shows per week. She explained the hierarchy between the feature and co-feature performers and the green light/red light system to alert performers not to strip as a policeman was in the house.
However it was Marinka’s parting words to us that left an impression on us all. After decades in the industry, she said the most important thing was respect. Respect yourself, respect your co-workers and respect your audience. Be proud, walk with your head high and don’t judge others.
Saturday night was the final night of the festival – the ‘Best of the Fest’ competition – with many remarkable performances!
Bunny Galore rocked it with her multi-tasselling-air-hostess-extreme-twerking act. Chola Magnolia was absolutely mesmerising with her style and stage presence, and Nikita Bitch Project was perfectly original and fierce in her dinosaur strip act. The festival concluded with a brilliant afterparty, however my lips are sealed as to what happened there!
I had a wonderful time at the Texas Burlesque Festival. I met beautiful people, saw amazing acts, met a gorgeous legend and learned from the very best our industry has to offer.
I highly recommend this festival to international performers as the producers, volunteers and fellow performers really take care of you from the moment you land. I’d personally like to shout-out to the generous Kat and Jon who took me around Austin, cared for me and cheered me on during my performance!
Texas, Lynn and Coco, you have created such a great and inspiring festival which I loved being a part of it and hope to come back very, very soon.
Check out #evietakestexas for all of my travelling pictures!
Evie Red x
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.